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Russian Salmon Harvests Relieve Disastrous Alaska Pink Salmon Landings

Salmonids Sustainability Economics +4 more

US - Favourable Pink Salmon landings in Russia are a breath of fresh air after a disastrous season in Alaska, reports Robert Reierson.

Lucy Towers thumbnail

As of last week, 24 million pink salmon were landed in Alaska, compared to 191 million caught in 2015.

In the Prince William Sound alone there were only 8.6 million pinks harvested - a devastating decrease from the 97 million harvested last year.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game did anticipate a lower run on Pinks this year, forecasting 90 million for the state-wide harvest.

Several processors alluded to above-average fish sizes for pinks this year, even as large as 10/lb-ers, which is not uncommon on smaller run years.

Also of note are the abundance of belly burn we have seen in product circulating from Alaska.

Upwards of 25 per cent of some Whole Round offloads of pinks had burnt bellies, so buyers need to be careful. Always have inspections done and buy from reputable suppliers.

So what does this mean for pricing in 2016?

Even with dismal pink landings, buyers seeking value priced salmon options can find some relief with decent volumes of chums.

Alaskan chum salmon harvests to date are 10.6 million fish, about 60 per cent of the expected harvests for the year.

As mentioned, another relief will be the above-average catch of pink salmon in Russia.

Overall, salmon harvests in the Far East Basin are up 40 per cent from last bumper season, at 188,000 metric tonnes.

Fishing in Kamchatka will end in two weeks, where the best performance has been seen so far at 124,000 metric tonnes caught, about 47 per cent above 2014.

For pink salmon specifically, 84,000 metric tonnes were expected in the Sea of Okhotsk, but experts believe this number will be exceeded by a massive 120 per cent!

Russian pinks are typically 40 cents cheaper than Alaskan chums, but many buyers prefer to source fish from the United States.

If Russian pinks and Alaskan chums do begin to compete with each other, we could see prices begin to tighten.

Sticker shock on Alaskan chums could bump this item off of menus if price increases exceed 30 cents per pound.