USDA made the announcement at the urging of Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, and collaborated with Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) to facilitate the purchase.
Alaska canned salmon will be distributed to food banks and pantries around the country, resulting in millions of meals for hungry Americans. The canned salmon will be purchased with funds raised by import tariffs, not taxpayer dollars.
“We’re really happy with USDA’s decision to purchase surplus Alaska salmon for America’s food banks,” said ASMI’s interim executive director Ray Riutta.
“It’s a nutritious and shelf-stable product that we want more Americans to explore and enjoy. This also benefits the commercial salmon fishing industry in Alaska. These fishermen have experienced large sockeye harvests in back-to-back years and badly need to clear surplus inventory of canned sockeye salmon.”
The last two years have produced larger combined sockeye harvests than any two-year period since 1995/1996. The 2014 harvest of Alaska sockeye salmon ranked 14th all-time, while this year’s harvest currently ranks 7th but could move into the top five by the time fishing is complete. These are significant rankings for an industry that extends back to the 1880s. As a result, seafood producers have stacked up a surplus supply of canned salmon. Harvester prices for sockeye salmon have dipped precipitously this year, due to a number of factors, excess canned sockeye salmon being one of them.
The removal of this surplus from the market is a good thing for all stakeholders in Alaska’s sockeye salmon industry.
“We thank Secretary Vilsack of the USDA for his leadership in helping provide nutrient-packed Alaska sockeye salmon to our nation’s hungriest, as well as Senator Lisa Murkowski and her staff for her tireless advocacy on behalf Alaska’s fishing industry and Americans who need help feeding their families,“ said Mr Riutta.