Wild Salmon’s Future Looks Bright, Alaska Seafood Exports Up 35.1 Percent

University of Alaska Anchorage economics professor Gunnar Knapp says he’s optimistic about the future of Alaska wild salmon, but also cautions about challenges ahead.

Knapp told participants in ComFish 2012 at Kodiak on April 12 that global demand for Alaska wild salmon is likely to keep growing, for reasons ranging from growing populations to the popularity of new product forms, but that regime shifts, climate change and the potential for farmed salmon supply to exceed demand and glut markets could post problems.

Knapp also said non-salmon species from world aquaculture production and world economic uncertainty pose potential problems.

The professor posted his ComFish presentation online at http://www.iser.uaa.alaska.edu/Publications/presentations/2012_04_12-TrendsInAKSalmonMarkets.pdf.

Alaska’s seafood exports meanwhile did very well in 2011, state export figures show.

Seafood worth a total of $2.5 billion – up 35.1 percent from a year earlier – topped the state’s exports for 2011.

The announcement came April 13 from Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell, who credited industry and state agencies like the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute and Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority for the record exports.

2011 marked the first year that China topped the list of Alaska’s export markets, with purchases that included $836.1 million in seafood purchases.

Japan purchased $589.2 million in Alaska seafood, followed by Korea, $303.6 million; Germany, $201.4 million; the Netherlands, $159.4 million; Canada, $89.5 million; France, $46.3 million; Thailand, $34.6 million; Spain, $33.8 million, and Portugal, $30.3 million. Alaska’s seafood exports to Europe in 2011 constituted 22.2 percent of total seafood exports, compared to 20.8 percent a year earlier.