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Salmon markets looking good for Alaska

Staff Writer |
Salmon markets are looking good across Alaska. The statewide salmon catch forecast of 204 million is up by a million fish, and the world’s biggest sockeye fishery at Bristol Bay is breaking records for chilling its fish.

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Last year nearly 40 percent of Alaska’s total salmon value came out of Bristol Bay.

When its fish fetch a better pay check for boosted quality due to chilling, it is felt throughout the entire salmon industry.

“The size of the Bay harvest has a big impact on salmon prices elsewhere. Typically, it’s 35-40 percent of the global sockeye supply,” said Andy Wink, Senior Seafood Analyst with the McDowell Group.

“When the base price in 2015 was 50 cents at Bristol Bay and they had a large harvest, sockeye prices in other areas fell and we also saw coho prices come way down. It’s a market moving fishery and that is why it affects so many other Alaska fishermen.”

The 2016 Bristol Bay harvest of 37 million sockeye salmon from the region’s five river systems was the second largest in 20 years, and both drift and setnet harvesters chilled the largest amount of raw product in the history of the fishery.

That’s according to a processor survey done each year by Northern Economics, Inc. of Anchorage by contract with the driftnet fishermen-funded and operated Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association.

"This is huge for the retail potential of Bristol Bay,” said Rebecca Martello, BBRSDA executive director.

“The fleet is making great strides to ensure Bristol Bay is a quality product and this definitely ties into all aspects of marketing and making Bristol Bay the premium brand we know it to be.”

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