From Southeast to Kotzebue, huge numbers of chum salmon returned home to Alaska and catches made record books in many regions. The statewide haul has topped 24.5 million chums, the highest catch in 17 years.

“It’s a great year to have a record catch.”

Andy Wink, the McDowell Group’s top fisheries economist says the market for Alaska chums, also sold as keta, could not be better.

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“Some years you get into a situation where the more you produce there is not enough demand to soak it all up and prices come down. We might see a little price effect because it’s a record year but all these factors coming into this season were really supportive for chums.” 

The chum harvest in Japan, one of the largest producers, was down 30 percent in a run of several years’ bad catches.

And higher priced farmed salmon has buyers looking for other options.

 “Basically those high farmed prices raised the bar for everything else and it gets more people interested in doing something with keta and it also benefits from all the sockeye promotions too.”

Wink says there has been a tremendous amount of retail advertising promoting Alaska salmon with several big chains like Publix doing a promotional series.

“There’s been a tremendous amount of advertising being done via retailers promoting Alaska sockeye and keta, a lot of time they will do a series of promotions all season long ago from sockeye to chum to coho. That makes for a really nice progression.”

The chum roe market also will be ripe.

Chum roe is the most valuable of all salmon and Japan’s harvest shortfall will boost up demand for Alaskan supply.

Wholesale prices for all salmon roe skyrocketed during the first four months of this year, according to the Alaska department of revenue.

For chum roe the price averaged $20.03 per pound up from $15.44 at the same time last year.