Bristol Bay salmon processors are raising prices per pound for sockeye salmon amid favorable markets. Preliminary data released by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in November suggests better prices and increased demand during the 2020 salmon season. This improvement extends beyond Bristol Bay because more fisheries across the state had better harvests this year.

A snapshot of Alaska’s preliminary commercial harvest and 2021 off-ship values ​​released by ADF & G in November. Follow the links in the story for the full document and more information.Credit courtesy of the Alaska Fish and Game DepartmentChange | To delete

Processors like Silver Bay Seafood’s and Peter Pan Seafood’s have adjusted their ex-ship or price per pound price for sockeye salmon this fall. Silver Bay now pays anglers $ 1.45 per pound of sockeye – an increase of 20 cents from the previous total of $ 1.25. The two processors also offer more money for better quality fish.

Abby Frederick is spokesperson for Silver Bay.

“Obviously, the base price is announced or announced earlier in the season,” Frederick said. “Now that we can see where they are at, where the sales are going and that we really have a confident look, we are excited to celebrate this with our fleet. “

Peter Pan Seafood’s is also increasing its base price by 20 cents, to $ 1.45 a pound, according to a statement from spokesperson Becca Pilipchuck.

Prior to the start of the 2021 season in June, Peter Pan had set an initial price of $ 1.10. It was the first time in decades that a Bristol Bay processor had told fishermen what they would do before the start of the season. After a few records in July, they pushed the price up to $ 1.25.

These are notable increases from last year. According to preliminary data released in October by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the region’s final adjusted price in 2020 was $ 1.06.

Andy Wink, CEO of the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, said the COVID-19 pandemic and weak salmon returns had made last year unusual.

“The only thing COVID has done is that it has created a massive increase in overall business risk,” Wink said. “If we all think about March April May, we had no idea what the next two weeks would look like. It is very difficult for companies to make long term plans and therefore it affects the way buyers buy.

The sockeye supply declined 23% in 2020. Wink says if you exclude the bay, 2020 was one of the lowest harvests since 1979.

“Some years, other species may not be doing as well,” Wink said. “You just don’t know as many products and not as much income to work that year. It’s hard to say what kind of impact this has exactly, but it’s not great if you’re trying to run a transformation business. Fishermen and processors are pretty closely linked, aren’t they? What affects one affects the other.

But this year, preliminary data suggests global sockeye production is up 10%, or 330 million pounds. This is attributed not only to Bristol Bay but also to better runs and harvests outside the region.

In Alaska, the estimated total harvest increased from 517 million pounds of sockeye salmon in 2020 to 858 million pounds in 2021.

A few regions have more than doubled their harvest per pound this year. In the South-East, the harvest increased from 74 million pounds to 198 million. The Prince William Sound area saw the largest increase from 102 million pounds of sockeye salmon to 236 million. And the Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian Islands regions have grown from £ 35million to £ 97million. Bristol Bay’s harvest was in line with last year’s total of £ 200million.

In addition to better salmon runs and harvests, the demand for sockeye salmon in the United States is also on the rise. Wink says more and more retailers are starting to sell sockeye salmon. And rising demand drives up prices. For example, Bristol Bay’s first wholesale value for frozen slaughtered and eviscerated salmon during the months of July and August increased from $ 1 to $ 4.33 per pound, while frozen fillets increased by 75 cents.

The average price of sockeye salmon fillets is $ 12.94 per pound. It was $ 11.99 in 2020.

“Typically, they either sell it frozen or release it and sell it out of their cases as a chilled product,” Wink said. “The more stores that do this, the more demand there will be. People who have a Costco near them have probably seen sockeye salmon at Costco as well as Sam’s Club and a lot of other places. But it’s probably not something that was there several years ago on an annual basis.

Overall, seafood processors are estimated to have paid fishermen working in Alaska a total of $ 643 million this year. This is more than double the total from last year. Bristol Bay leads all fields with a value of $ 248 million, which is about 40% of the state’s total. It was also a banner year for salmon runs in the bay, with 65.8 million fish.

Next year could also be another banner year for Bristol Bay. Fish and Game’s pre-season forecast calls for a comeback of 75.2 million fish.

Contact the author at [email protected] or 907-842-2200