Salmon prices soar in Alaska
It’s good news following a 2016 season that saw lackluster catches in all regions but Bristol Bay, a failure of pink salmon runs, and paltry pay checks across nearly all the board.
Prices depend on the region, the species, the type of fishing gear and, most importantly, global market conditions.
Salmon prices also reflect bonuses for iced fish, dock deliveries and other agreements between a buyer and seller.
As a fishing season unfolds, details can be sketchy as buyers watch the strength of the salmon runs.
Until the fish are actually sold at the wholesale level, prices are in flux, and it’s tough to determine what a final outcome will be.
It all adds up to a lot of uncertainty, making it tough for sellers and buyers to pencil in a bottom line. That said, a canvassing of fishermen, processors and managers show that early indicators are good.
Bristol Bay started the optimism when Copper River Seafoods in late June posted a price of $1.35 a pound for top quality sockeyes.
Bay reds averaged $0.93 last summer. No word yet from other buyers as the sockeye run blows past the 27 million forecast with no end in sight.
At Kodiak, sockeye prices were posted at $1.40 for bled and chilled fish, compared to a 96 cent average last year.
Chums, which are arriving in record numbers at parts of the island, were posted at $.40 cents a pound for bled and chilled fish, up from $0.29 on average at Kodiak last year.
For early Kodiak pinks, a price of $.35 cents was on the board for bled/chilled fish, a $0.20 increase from 2016.
Icicle Seafoods at Kodiak’s Larsen Bay has chums posted at $0.55 a pound for bled/chilled fish and $1.40 for sockeyes.
Troll-caught kings from Southeast’s four-day July fishery fetched nearly $7 a pound according to fish tickets, up $2 from last summer’s average. Trollers now have switched to coho salmon and are averaging $1.40 a pound.
Other Southeast fishermen also are seeing some record chum catches, which are fetching $0.80 a pound compared to just $0.25 on average last year. Gillnetters so far have caught nearly five times as many chum salmon this year compared to last year.
Similar chum prices were reported from Prince William Sound, up from $0.32. ■