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Sockeye Salmon Makes a Comeback in Bristol Bay

Salmonids Sustainability Halibut +7 more

US - Alaskan Salmon Harvests outside of Bristol Bay are having a difficult season, with catch totals well below season estimates, report Rob Reierson and Kyla Ganton in the Tradex Foods 3-Minute market Insight.

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Current Blue Sheet harvests for the Prince William Sound Sockeye show 1.72 million Sockeye caught, about 1 million coming from the Copper River.

3.4 million Sockeye are expected in the Sound this year, and 4.1 million fish are expected in the Upper Cook Inlet, where only 946,000 Sockeye have been caught.

Sockeye is making a strong comeback in Bristol Bay, holding the lions share of State sockeye harvests at 23.3 million fish caught to date and beating the 5 year average.

--- A decrease in overal catch has many Alaskan processing plants running at 50 to 70 percent capacity right now.

With a smaller than normal run, offers will be limited and prices will be firm moving forward as processors speculate high prices ahead.

Inventories of 2015 4oz IQF sockeye salmon portions are still available in Seattle around the $4.50 mark.

As for this season, all indicators look like a 15 to 20 cent increase from last year on all salmon products.

--- In B.C., The Fraser River Sockeye run is not looking good either.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans announced last week that the "forecasts for 2016 are highly uncertain," creating a 1 in 4 chance that the actual number of returning sockeye will be at the 75 percent level forecast.

Don't hold your breath for a salmon opening in the Johnstone Strait or Fraser River this year.

--- Finally, a quick note on the Halibut market.

Landings last week are nearly on par with last year's harvests at 9.713 million pounds caught, leaving 7.4 million pounds remaining, about 57 percent.

The season runs until November 7th and last season's total catch was 97 percent of the quota, which was increased from the year prior.

As for halibut inventories, frozen supply is short right now while most boats target salmon.

Once frozen 1-3lb fillets range from $16.40 - $16.50 / lb in Seattle, if you can find them.

Frozen inventories will begin to strengthen in the coming months.