Forecast: Sockeye, Pink Down; Coho, Chum Up

Alaska’s fisheries biologists are anticipating a total
commercial salmon catch of 161 million fish in 2016, down from 268 million
salmon a year ago, with a projected pink salmon harvest of 100 million fewer
humpies than last year’s catch of 190.5 million.
The forecast for a smaller humpy harvest, although
significant, is not unusual, nor is it cause for concern, because in the past
couple of decades pink salmon runs have tended to be lower in even years, then up
in odd years.
While the overall sockeye salmon harvest is anticipated to
be some 7.3 million fish fewer than were harvested in 2015, the 2015 red salmon
harvest was the largest since 1995.
The chum harvest is expected to be some 475,000 more fish
than were caught in 2015 and the coho harvest likewise is expected to be about
556,000 more fish than a year ago.
How big the Chinook harvest will be is an unknown because of
treaty allocations not reflected in the Alaska Department of Fish and Game
forecast. Smaller Chinook harvests are, however, expected in central and
western Alaska fisheries this year.
Several factors play into prices at the docks for harvesters
this year, including the strong value of the dollar in comparison to currencies
of buyers and competitors, canned inventory still unsold, salmon harvested in
Russian, Japan and Canada, and the impact of the red tide in Chile on salmon
markets. Red tide is a harmful algal bloom, with large concentrations of toxic
aquatic microorganisms.
Market observers note that sales of frozen sockeye salmon
appear to be moving faster than at this time last year. Major retailers like
Costco now have frozen fillets on salmon or other wild seafood for sale all
year round.

The volume of canned salmon still is a concern, due to the
volume unsold, and there are still problems in the market for salmon and salmon
roe. The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute has been promoting the sale of more
canned stocks by posting recipes at for mini-loaves, chowder and salmon
salad sandwiches.