Economist is Optimistic About Long Term Outlook for Alaska Salmon Markets

A veteran fisheries economist says there are many reasons
for optimism about the economic future of Alaska wild salmon.
Gunnar Knapp of the University of Alaska’s Institute of
Social and Economic Research told Alaska legislators in the House Fisheries recently
that the global demand for salmon is likely to keep growing because of growing
populations, growing incomes, the health benefits of salmon and new product
forms that appeal to a broader range of consumers. And wild salmon, said Knapp
are in limited supply, so there is potential for niche market differentiation.
There are also potential limits, said Knapp, to the growth
of farmed salmon production due to potential for disease problems and limits to
fish oil and fish meal feed sources.
Wild salmon also face some potential challenges, he said,
including regime shifts and climate change that would pose resource
uncertainty. Adding to that are the potential for farmed salmon supply growth
to exceed demand growth, glutting markets and depressing prices, as has
happened in the past, plus world economic and political uncertainty.
As of this month, the short-term outlook for Alaska salmon
markets looks relatively favorable, Knapp said. He attributed this to likely
lower sockeye harvest volumes, strong canned salmon markets because of low
inventories, and strengthening farmed salmon prices.
Still, he cautioned, many factors can affect prices and
every year brings surprises.
Knapp’s entire report to the legislators is online at
The state of Alaska meanwhile has released its statewide
forecast for all salmon fisheries for 2013, predicting a total harvest of 179
million fish, up from 127 million last year – thanks mainly to a projected pink
salmon harvest of 118 million pinks, which is 73 percent higher than a year