Fish Radio

Salmon values vary

August 14, 2015

Alaska salmon on ice! Credit:  ASMI

Alaska salmon on ice!
Credit: ASMI

This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch — Following the salmon value chain from boat to throat. More after this … 

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 It takes quite a crew to get Alaska salmon from the fishing boat to dinner plates, and each gets a share of the goods.

  We often get asked what share the fisherman retains and how much each segment of the supply chain gets for salmon. The answer depends on the species and the product you are talking about and what gear type –

Andy Wink is a fisheries economist with the McDowell Group in Juneau. He compiled a report that tracks the value chain and payouts to fishermen at the docks and at first wholesale for processors.

And  that is typically defined as the value of the product as it leaves Alaska.   

The chain illustrates three examples showing values from high to low returns for fishermen.  With troll caught kings, the harvester adds most of the value before delivery. In this case, the processor just holds and ships the dressed fish and is more of a distributor.

  For that reason the fishermen gets a higher percent and in our example, the fisherman got 40% of the final retail value.  

The value chain for sockeye fillets is far different.

  In this example, a processors are taking on fish in the round, filleting them packaging them, freezing, you’ve got a lot more labor and capital expended. So the processors are adding a lot more value and for that reason, they get a larger share.    

Canned product follows a similar pattern, although canned fish are the lowest value on the commodity chain.

If you don’t fish for a living, or aren’t’ from  a fishing town, why should you care about fish prices?

The various state taxes on fish usually equal 3 – 5 percent of the dockside values and are shared equally between towns where the fish are landed and state coffers , to be distributed at the whim of the legislature.   With catches on the order of 5 to 6 billion pounds per year, even adding one penny per pound makes a  difference of nearly a million dollars for the state and local governments each.

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.