Fish Radio

Sockeye wait and see has buyers stalled

July 14, 2015

This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – A confusing sockeye salmon season has buyers stalled. A peek at some prices after this –

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Sockeye salmon catches finally picked up steam at Bristol Bay and the late surge has buyers scratching their heads.   Gillnetters caught more than two million reds each day over the past weekend, bringing the total Bay catch to nearly 19 million fish.

Bristol Bay’s sockeye salmon catch can add  up to nearly two-thirds of Alaska’s total salmon fishery value,  and July 4th is typically the half way point for the Bay harvest.  While fish watchers say another plug of sockeyes appear on the  way,  the total catch will fall far short of the nearly 38 million predicted early on.

The shortfall has made for a lot of confusion among US and overseas customers. Going into the season buyers were bracing for another huge sockeye haul amid freezers still full of fish from last year.

Buyers are not giving any updated price indications until they see how the Bristol Bay run pans out.

The fish also are 20 percent smaller than normal, making them harder to sell.  An expected poor sockeye showing at British Columbia’s Fraser River next month will also factor into   supply expectations.

 Undercurrent News and other market reports say most buyers are waiting for the majors, such as Trident and Ocean Beauty, to make large volume sockeye buys.

Unconfirmed  reports for weeks have put the grounds price for Bristol Bay  sockeye salmon at 65-cents a pound, with an extra 15 cents for chilled fish.  That compares to $1.20 last year.

The Kodiak base for sockeye  is reported at 80 cents, and 95 cents at Southeast Alaska.  Both regions paid in the $1.75 a pound range last year.  The statewide average price to fishermen for    sockeyes salmon in 2014 was $1.37 a pound.

Meanwhile, pink production is coming on line in major regions. Prince William Sound seiners got off to a big start taking two million pinks a day with the catch now nearing 11 million fish.

Pinks are showing at Southeast Alaska where a whopping  58 million catch   is expected this summer.

Most pink prices are reportedly starting in the 20-25 cent range, down about a dime from the statewide average last year.

Find links to all Alaska salmon catches at our website

Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods – serving Alaska’s fishing communities since 1910. On the web at In Kodiak I’m Laine Welch.