Robust harvests of Alaska’s sockeye salmon, plus renewed restaurant demand and changes in consumer buying habits added up to a very good 2021 season for Alaska Marine Lines and the supporting Lynden companies.
Alaska salmon runs were 15% higher than projected and the Bristol Bay sockeye salmon had a record 66.1 million fish, with a catch of some 40 million red salmon comprising 90% of the record 44 million fish harvest, according to AML seafood sales manager Tyler Maurer.
All Lynden companies stayed busy keeping up with the volume of fish this year, prompted by larger returns, restaurants reopening after pandemic closures and new consumer buying habits, he said.
Lynden Air Cargo annually flies fresh fish from Naknek, Emmonak, Cold Bay, Sand Point and Dillingham to Anchorage, where Lynden Logistics provides support for transloading to AML, Alaska West Express and Lynden Transport and ships seafood with other air carriers worldwide. LTI Inc. trucks provide surface delivery support in Seattle and transport to locations all over the continental U.S.
On average, AML moves 7,000 containers of fresh fish annually from Alaska fisheries to Seattle, but this year the company moved over 11,000 containers, and was still working in mid-November to transport more frozen and canned product out of Alaska for a few weeks to come, Maurer said.
Equipment reliability is extremely important when moving a temperature-controlled, high-value commodity like fish, so reefer technicians take on an even more important role during fish seasons.
“With Copper River kings selling at $80 per pound to retailers in the lower 48 states, to start the season we must have everything in place and running well to deliver the fish in pristine condition,” Maurer said. “We are sometimes pushed to the limit in the summer months, but we all get the job done safely. From top to bottom, it’s a Lynden-wide group effort, and we all lean on each other to get the job done including our partners at Western Towboat, Bering Marine and Dunlap Towing.”