Professor Gunnar Knapp, University of  AK/Anchorage

Professor Gunnar Knapp, University of AK/Anchorage

Fish Radio
April 10, 2013

This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch … Good outlook for Alaska salmon, especially sockeyes. More after this –

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Alaska trollers have been out on the water for king salmon all winter, and in a few short weeks, the 2013 salmon season will officially kick off at Copper River. Market conditions appear favorable at this point, especially for sockeye salmon. That was the take home message by University of Alaska fisheries economist Gunnar Knapp at a meeting in Dillingham.

Knapp cited three key factors for the short term outlook:  lower sockeye harvests with strong demand, strong canned salmon markets with low inventories, and strengthening prices for farmed salmon.

Alaska wild salmon tends to follow the price trends for farmed Atlantic salmon, which now accounts for two-thirds of world supply.

Other positive trends for Alaska show a steady increase in the value of pink salmon – nearly two-thirds of the pink pack was frozen in 2011 instead of going into lower value cans – that compares to less than 20 percent being frozen in the late 1990s.

Almost all of the frozen pinks go to China – but not to be eaten by the Chinese. The salmon is made into fish portions and entrees and other products and sent back to markets in the US and Europe.

Knapp’s 10 year overview shows that the dockside value of Alaska’s salmon harvests jumped from $164 million in 2002 to $603 million in 2010. The wholesale value surged from $466 million in 2002 to $1.5 billion in 2011.   He points out that there has been significant inflation, and a dollar had 30% higher purchasing power in 2002 than it did in 2012.

Knapp credits the good showing by the Alaska salmon industry since 2002 to sustained and effective niche marketing, diversifying and expanding markets, new products, improved quality, and increased appetites for salmon around the world.    But going into the 2013 salmon season, he always cautions that  only one thing is for sure —

Cut:  The most certain thing is something will happen to surprise us.

Learn more about Alaska salmon in China this week at ComFish,

Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods, celebrating 103 years of partnership with Alaska’s coastal communities.  In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.