More bad news for Alaska salmon season

Published on
April 18, 2017

Buyers have been concerned about lower supply and higher prices for Alaskan salmon since the start of the year, and when Alaska Department of Fish and Game projections were released in mid-March.

Those projections showed that sockeye salmon is expected to drop from more than 52.8 million fish last year to nearly 40.9 million fish this year. King salmon will also drop from 401,000 harvested in 2016 to a projected 80,000 fish in 2017.

Now, new ADFG data for the 2017 Bristol Bay sockeye salmon season will add to their concerns about already high prices on wild salmon inventories. Around 27.5 million sockeye salmon are potentially available for commercial harvest, compared to 37.3 million last year. In addition, the overall run for the region is projected to be 41.5 million sockeye, a steep drop from the 51.4 million sockeye landed in 2016. 

“Last year, the total run for Bristol Bay was the second highest out of the last 20 years. When you are having the second-best season in 20 years, you can’t do that every year. It is natural variability,” Tim Sands, Nushagak and Togiak manager for ADFG’s Commercial Fisheries Division, told SeafoodSource. “The forecast for this year is still above average: the average [commercial harvest] is 31.5 million fish.”

However, buyers are still concerned about low inventories and high prices on 2016 salmon, leading into the 2017 season. 

“There is very little [frozen inventory] left. We are all anxiously awaiting for the new season,” said Steven N. Chartier, vice president of sales and marketing for Peter Pan Seafoods in Seattle, Washington. 

“Demand far exceeds supply,” echoed Cassandra Squibb, chief marketing officer for Copper River Seafoods in Anchorage, Alaska, saying that frozen salmon prices are around 15 percent higher than they were a year ago. “This will be a trend well into the season.”

Despite the concerning sockeye news, Alaska’s overall pink salmon forecast is forecast to surge from 39.4 million fish last year to 141.9 million this year, benefitting processors of canned salmon, smoked salmon and other products.

Plus, Alaska coho salmon will jump from 3.8 million fish last year to a projected 4.7 million this year.

Contributing Editor

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