Copper River salmonFish Radio

May 13, 2014                                                                                       

 This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch …The reds start running this week at the Copper River – a market outlook after this.

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 It’s hard to believe but Thursday marks the official start of Alaska’s 2014 salmon season with a 12 hour opener at the Copper River. The year’s first fresh sockeye salmon will be flown out and featured in markets far and wide. Reds from the Copper River are a brand that fetches an average premium of nearly $2 a pound above all other sockeye salmon in grocery stores, according to a market analysis by the McDowell Group.

The report was done for the fishermen-run Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, but it covers all regions and markets.

 Sockeyes are by far Alaska’s most valuable salmon, typically worth about two-thirds of the total haul.  But in terms of global supply, wild sockeye are rare creatures – they account for about 5 percent of all wild and farmed production, and represent just 15 percent of the world’s wild salmon harvest.

 Alaska typically accounts for 70 percent or more of global sockeye production. Bristol Bay accounted for 45 percent of that between 2010 and 2012.  Last year, a lower harvest pushed that figure down to 31 percent.

It used to be that Japan was the biggest buyer for Alaska sockeye salmon, but not anymore. The U.S. is the single largest market , purchasing nearly 44 percent by valuein 2012. Japan and the U.K. are next, followed by Canada.

 Alaska’s sockeye salmon catch this year is projected at nearly 34 million fish, five million more than last year. Average statewide price last year was $1.60, an increase of 30 cents from 2012.   

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. In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.