Alaska’s Wild Salmon Catch Exceeds 236 Million fish

Deliveries of wild Alaska salmon to processors reached
nearly 236 million fish as of Aug. 25, exceeding the Alaska Department of Fish
and Game’s forecast by more than 15 million fish, and the pink salmon forecast
alone by upwards of 26 million fish.
The humpy harvest alone stood at 166.6 million fish. Processors
had also received some 503,000 kings, 13.7 million chums, 2.4 million silvers
and 52.6 million reds.
The sockeye, chum and silver harvests have all fallen short
of the predicted catch.
Still, with the overall abundance of harvest, the challenge
lies in marketing.
Supermarkets in Southcentral Alaska were advertising fresh
fillets of wild sockeye salmon at $9.99 a pound this week, down from $16.99 a
pound, plus fresh wild silver fillets for $10.99 a pound, down from $14.9 a
pound, plus whole cohos for $8.99 a pound, down from $13.99 a pound. Canned
pink and red salmon products were also being offered at about 30 cents to 40
cents off per can, but those discounts were posted only on store shelves and
not in store advertisements.
An extremely strong dollar, especially with the fall of
China’s currency, and Russian’s ban on importation of US foods, poses
difficulties, said Tyson Fick, spokesman for the Alaska Seafood Marketing
Institute. Russia is also normally a strong market for salmon roe.
The Russian embargo on most foods from the European Union
also has added competition from farmed salmon from Norway and Iceland against
Alaska’s wild salmon. “They are going after the same markets we are, and
production of famed salmon is getting lose to an all-time high,” Fick said.
ASMI’s current goal is to develop new markets overseas and
domestically, with the domestic effort focused on creating new salmon fans who
will support America’s fishermen, Fick said. ASMI’s marketing efforts focused
on fresh sockeye salmon in June and July, then switched to silver salmon
promotions for August and September, and coming up in October, coinciding with
National Seafood Month, will be promotions of frozen fish that can be prepared
quickly for meals.

ASMI is also working with distributors like Cisco to address
the food service side of the industry, Fick said. “We wouldn’t have the ability
to go to every single restaurant. We would hope to give (distributors) the
tools to be successful on their sales calls.