Alaska salmon catches for all species besides sockeye are lagging and the news about reds keeps getting better with another big price boost at Bristol Bay.

OBI Seafoods last Friday posted a base price of $1.25, a boost from the $1.10 Peter Pan posted in June before fishing began, and up almost 80% higher than last year.

© Cameron Karsten  for                            Grundens

OBI will include a $0.15 late-season bonus for boats that continue to fish after July 23, and KDLG reports that Peter Pan is offering $0.30 worth of quality bonuses.

Bristol Bay’s sockeye catch has reached 38 million out of a statewide total of 46 million reds.

And markets are poised to pay for all the wild sockeye salmon they can get, says Rochelle Reierson of Tradex, a global marketer based in British Columbia.

“Even with more 2-4lb Sockeye becoming available in the next few weeks, we do not expect downward pressure on pricing anytime soon. Recent consolidations of plants in Alaska have created more financially stable processors that no longer need to dump inventories like in previous seasons.
“As well, there are no carry over inventories of sockeye from 2020 (or 2019) leaving the market bare, which we predict will bring a stable and strong sockeye market moving into 2021 and the 2022 season.
In addition to this, as Pacific Salmon in British Columbia, Canada continue to be in a state of decline with some runs even on the verge of collapse, we would not count on any sizeable amount of Sockeye from Canada as the Government recently announced significant commercial salmon closures for the 2021 season.”

The sockeye run returning to Bristol Bay is poised to break the 2018 record of nearly 63 million fish. The reds weigh than usual averaging 4.5 pounds, down from 5.1 pounds. That puts a smaller fish on the plate  but so far, there’s been no push back from buyers.

Dan Lesh is a fisheries economist with McKinley Research.

“So far so good on marketing some of these smaller fish. Yields go down and more work goes into each pound of fish that you’re marketing because you’re having to deal with these smaller fish. So we don’t like to see our cost structure increase  – hopefully, consumer acceptance is there.”

Prince William Sound and Kodiak have broken the one million sockeye mark and the Alaska Peninsula is at about 5.4 million reds. Cook Inlet’s sockeye catch has topped half a million and it’s under 50,000 for reds in Southeast.