Bristol Bay Sockeye Market Report Offers Outlook on the 2018 Fishery

The spring edition of the Bristol Bay Sockeye Market Report predicts a commercial harvest of 27.6 million sockeye salmon, similar to harvests of each of the past three seasons. “Projected harvest in the Nushagak district are particularly large,” said Andy Wink of Wink Research & Consulting. The report was prepared for the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association.

Wink noted that global sockeye supply is projected to increase by about seven percent this year, due to a larger run of Fraser River sockeyes in western Canada. Many Fraser River salmon who were subjected to the impact of the 2014 Mount Polley mine disaster will be returning this year as adults.

“The shift towards frozen and fresh products has intensified over the past two years,” Wink noted. “Despite a large harvest last season, canned sockeye production in the Bay was the lowest since 1998 and only three companies operated canning lines in 2017” he said.

Wink’s report also notes that currency fluctuations have been generally favorable for Bristol Bay salmon producers for the past year, with the US dollar index weakening by five percent.

Shortages in processing labor and a large run resulted in many fishermen being put on limits last year. With another large harvest expected, the number of processing workers will be key to determining seasonal performance for both fishermen and processors.

The report also mentions that Bristol Bay fishermen chilled 73 percent of their catch. Improved quality has brought increasing average prices and better sales performance.

The current market for Bristol Bay drifnet gillnet salmon permits is about $150,000 per permit. This is relatively high compared to the past 20 years. Average gross earnings per permit were outstanding last year and expected to be strong again this year.

The complete report is available online at