Wild salmon prices in Alaska and British Columbia rise on lower landings

Sockeye salmon landings in Bristol Bay, Alaska have been strong recently, but harvest outlooks from the Copper River area and the Fraser River in British Columbia, Canada, are hurting the overall market, according to recent catch reports.

The preliminary harvest from the 17th Copper River District commercial fishing period was 55,743 sockeye salmon, and 35,390 sockeye from the 18th fishing period, both well below the anticipated salmon harvests.

“This year's Copper River Chinook and sockeye salmon runs are well below last year's runs, well below forecast, and in the context of the past couple decades, these runs were bad and average, respectively,” said the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

“A decrease in overall catch has many Alaskan processing plants running at 50 to 70 percent capacity right now,” said Rob Reierson, president and CEO of Victoria, B.C.-based seafood distributor Tradex Foods, in the company’s “3-Minute Market Insight” webcast. “With a smaller than normal run, offers will be limited and prices will be firm moving forward as processors speculate high prices ahead.”

As a result, Reierson expects a price hike of 15 to 20 cents per pound on this year’s sockeye salmon, compared to last season.

Plus, in British Columbia, the Fraser River sockeye run is “tracking at levels well below expected, compared to the pre-season forecast,” said Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

However, more than 33.6 million sockeye salmon have been landed in Bristol Bay so far this season, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game reported, and the total salmon catch in the region is more than 34.3 million as of 15 July.

Radio station KDLG, based in Bristol Bay, reported on Tuesday, 19 July that the run in Bristol Bay has eclipsed 42.8 million salmon, including 5.7 million in Ugashik District, more than has ever been caught in that area before – but those numbers could not be independently verified by SeafoodSource.

In addition, the two billionth salmon in Bristol Bay’s 133-year fishing history was caught last week. “Since the inception of Bristol Bay’s canned salmon industry in 1884, its fishermen have landed 1.99 billion salmon, 93 percent of which were sockeye,” ADFG said prior to the two billionth catch. “Fishermen will achieve the 2-billion-salmon milestone when 2016 total harvest reaches 10,033,455 salmon.”


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