Russia expects another record pink salmon catch in 2019                                                                  Credit: SeafoodNews


All of Bristol Bay opened up to salmon fishing yesterday/June 24 as sockeyes swarmed into the region’s five fishing districts.  A sockeye harvest of nearly 27 million is expected at the Bay this summer, down 8 percent from the 10 year average.

As always Alaska salmon competes with fish from around the world and this year California kings will be in play.

Reports are hailing the best king catches there in a decade after three disastrous fishing years due to droughts. No numbers yet but the return is being called historic and west coast markets are thrilled with the fish.

The kings usually run from May to October.

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For Alaska pink salmon the biggest competition will again come from Russia.

Alaska’s humpy harvest is pegged at 138 million, nearly 100 million more than last year, and Russia predicts another huge haul.

“If Alaska and Russia both realize their forecasts it’s shaping up to be a pretty strong harvest for both regions. So it will be interesting to see how the market reacts.”

Garrett Evridge is an economist with the McDowell Group. Just how big might Russia’s pink salmon catch be?

“Russia is anticipating to have a harvest in line with last year which was a record. It was over one billion pounds. For context, Russian harvested about a billion pounds in 2018 and we harvested about 150 million pounds.”

Speaking of Russia – we’re into the fifth year of an embargo Russia put on US seafood purchases in 2014 to retaliate for our alleged meddling in the Ukraine.

That‘s been an annual loss of over $60 million to Alaska, mostly for salmon roe sales to Russia which had grown by 222 percent in 2013.

Meanwhile, the U.S. continues to buy increasing amounts of seafood from Russia, mostly king and snow crab and sockeye salmon.

Trade data show the US bought $51 million of Russian-caught seafood in 2018. More than half a million pounds was Alaska sockeye salmon worth more than $2 million.