May 20, 2014
This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – A huge question mark hangs over the sockeye salmon market. More after this —
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Salmon fishermen were back out on the Copper River yesterday/Monday hoping for a catch of 33-thousand sockeyes. The first 12-hour opener last Thursday was slow going – 510 landings yielded a total take of 27-thousand reds, down 16% from the forecast, and just 1,000 kings. Advance prices for the first fish dipped a bit to $3.50 a pound for sockeyes and $6.00 for kings. That compares to $4.00 and $6 to $7 last year.
There is skittishness among sockeye salmon buyers due to uncertainty surrounding a potentially huge run to British Columbia’s Fraser River. Fishery managers in Canada expect the sockeye run to top 72 million fish – the result of a 2010 red run that was the biggest in almost one hundred years.
But the buzz word is ‘uncertainty.’ The sheer range of the projected run calls the entire forecast into question – from a low of just over seven million to the whopping 72.5 million.
For Alaska, the timing of the Fraser run is problematic, as it typically occurs in August, a few weeks after the state’s major sockeye salmon fishery at Bristol Bay. That could delay buying for frozen fish, the bulk of the Bay pack. It will be a matter of ‘wait and see’ – or more likely – if – the big sockeye run shows up at the Fraser River.
Turning to Alaska’s largest herring fishery at Togiak in Bristol Bay, the final tally is just over 25-thousand tons or 96% of the catch quota. That’s more buyers wanted, says Fish and Game area manager Tim Sands –
They had kind of a goal set for the season that added up to 23,570 tons. Some companies went over, for whatever reasons, so that’s why we ended up taking more than we thought we’d take.
No word on Togiak price but it’s likely to be under $100 a ton. The herring will continue their run up the coast to Norton Sound, but a lack of buyers has stalled or stopped fishing in many westward regions.
Thanks to the assist from KDLG.
Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods. Ocean Beauty has contributed over 10 million meals to the U.S. Food Bank network, and is committed to ending hunger in America. www.oceanbeauty.com In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.