Alaska Salmon Harvest Tops 248 Million Fish

Commercial harvests of wild Alaska salmon grew to an
estimated 248,645,000 fish through September 2, including upwards of 178
million pink salmon – the third highest harvest on record. Chinook harvests of
503,000 fish also were far and above the statewide forecast of 54,000 kings.
Harvesters have also delivered to processors a total of
nearly 53 million sockeyes, more than 14 million chum and 2.6 million silver
salmon, according to the latest 2015 preliminary commercial salmon harvest data
compiled by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
Chum harvests continue and the silver season isn’t yet in
full swing, and many are waiting to see what happens with the roe, frozen and
canned markets for the humpies. “If processors in Alaska froze more and canned
a little less, that might work out well this year,” said Andy Wink, senior seafood
analyst for the McDowell Group, a research and analysis firm in Juneau.
Markets currently for pink roe are not big enough to handle
all that roe, which has been a really important market for the Alaska salmon
industry for the last few years, and now with the Russian embargo on food
imports from Western nations and the change in currency values, a lot has
changed, Wink said.
In some years the wholesale value of roe can be more than 40
percent of the fish, but the Japanese market is just not going to absorb that
much more of the pink roe, at least at the market price that sales in Russia
did, and the value of the yen is weaker too, he said.
Frozen headed and gutted pink salmon can be made into
several product forms, but if you are not getting the value you were getting
from roe, there is no other product form to put it into, which explains a lot
of the declining exvessel prices seen for pink salmon, he said.

But all things considered, said Wink, the frozen and canned
markets are in decent shape. Given how much pink salmon was caught this year
and how much was expected to be caught, there is a chance we could come out
stable in the canned market, he said.