Economists Still Uncertain How Farmed Fish Will Affect Wild Salmon Prices

Going into the wild salmon season in Alaska, there is some concern
over how farmed salmon prices will affect those of wild salmon, and fisheries
economists are still waiting for more data to make a determination.
While it is entirely plausible that farmed salmon prices could cause
wild salmon prices to fall, nobody will really know until a significant amount
of salmon is sold, says Gunnar Knapp, an economics professor at the University
of Alaska Anchorage Institute of Social and Economic Research.  Right now it’s the time of year when
very high stakes negotiations are taking place between processors and buyers,
with processors trying to sell as high as they can and buyers trying to buy as
low as they can.  It’s all very
complicated.  Knapp said some
processors, concerned about a soft market for frozen headed and gutted fish,
were saying they planned to put fewer fish into H&G and more into frozen
fillets and canned salmon.
Other factors to consider are the size of salmon runs, the amount of
Russian salmon available and exchange rates, he said.
Keith Criddle, director of the fisheries division at the University
of Alaska Fairbanks, speaking from Juneau, noted that research done by his
students shows clear linkages between exvessel prices for king and coho salmon
from Alaska and US wholesale prices of Chilean, Canadian and Norwegian reared
Atlantic salmon.
In addition, there are clear linkages between exvessel prices for sockeye
salmon from Alaska and the supply of Chilean pen-reared coho and steelhead
shipped into Japanese markets, he said.
Increases in Chilean or Norwegian production of Atlantic salmon
primarily affect our domestic markets for king and coho, while increases in
Chilean production of coho and steelhead primarily affect demand for Alaskan
sockeye in the Japanese market, he said.
Now that Chilean exports have increased, they are entering a market
that includes substantially larger volumes of Norwegian Atlantic salmon and in
order to clear inventory the Chileans have had to reduce their asking
prices.  The resulting decline in exvessel,
wholesale and retail prices of Alaskan salmon in domestic markets could as
reasonably be attributed to the resumption of Norwegian exports to the US as it
can be attributed to expansion of Chilean exports to the US, he said.