By Laine Welch
Alaska salmon fishermen were paid an average of $.66 for each pound of fish they delivered this year, an increase of nearly 16 percent over 2009.
That’s just one of the many interesting statistics in the post-season wrap up that provides a more complete picture of how the 2010 salmon season played out.
This year’s statewide catch of nearly 169 million salmon was the 11th largest on record and although it was very close to the 2009 catch, all species saw substantially higher prices. The salmon also were bigger this year totaling almost 812 million pounds by volume, 9.7 percent heavier than last year. That poundage was much more pricey – nearly $534 million at the docks (ex-vessel), an increase of more than 28 percent.
It reflects the high demand for wild salmon, said Seafood Trend’s Ken Talley. This summer alone, wholesale salmon sales amounted to nearly $507 million, a “startling” increase of 30.5 percent over last summer, Talley said.
In terms of prices paid to Alaska fishermen: For Chinook salmon, the average price went from $2.76 per pound in 2009 to $3.44 per pound, an increase of nearly 25 percent; coho salmon prices increased 13 percent, going from $.90 to $1.05 a pound; for sockeye, the average statewide price increased 23.3 percent from $.90 to $1.11. Chum salmon prices jumped to $.66 per pound, up nearly 35 percent. (The total value of the chum fishery — at nearly $93 million — is the highest value since 1975).
The pink salmon average price of $.35 per pound also is an increase of 35 percent over last year.
Lampreys provide a quick payday for Yukon River fishermen each winter. It’s a tricky fishery that depends on knowing exactly when the fish are under the ice.
“When the run hits, you’d better be ready,” said Jack Schultheis, manager of Emmonak-based Kwik-Pak Fisheries, who helped launch the lamprey fishery seven years ago. “It’s a day or two and they they’re gone,” he told KYUK.
The lamprey fishery occurred two weeks ago, primarily from Russian Mission up river to the buying station at Grayling. Using dipnets through holes hacked in the ice, 25 fishermen raced to produce a catch of 24,000 pounds out of a 40,000 pound catch limit. They received $1.50 per pound for their catch.
“That’s what’s always been a problem with getting the volume all the stars have to line up properly to be successful volume-wise,” Schultheis said.
Sea lampreys are among the oldest fishes on earth, estimated at 500 million years. Similar to hagfish, they are the only fish without jaws to survive in nature. Lampreys actually are parasites which attach themselves to other fish and live off their blood. Similar to salmon, sea lampreys spawn in freshwater streams where they build gravel nests, then die after spawning.
Lampreys were long prized in Mediterranean cuisine, but few fisheries remain anywhere today.
“We’re one of the few open fisheries in the world for lamprey,” Schultheis said. “They are very susceptible to pollution so most of the big lamprey producing areas — like the eastern United States and the Mediterranean — are gone because there are no eels left.”
The Yukon lampreys are about two feet long and weigh up to a half pound. Instead of going to dinner plates, these fish are frozen whole and shipped off to universities in the Lower 48.
Lampreys are being studied for their unusual nervous systems, and Michigan State University researchers have identified a stress hormone that may provide clues to the evolution of the human endocrine system. Yukon lampreys also contain 30 percent high quality fish oils for human use.
For centuries, oysters have been credited with boosting libido, but until recently there was no scientific evidence to back that up.
New studies reveal that ancient aphrodisiac claim has merit. Researchers at Miami’s Barry University told the American Chemical Society they have discovered that oysters, mussels and clams contain compounds that prompt the release of sexual hormones, such as testosterone and estrogen.
Oysters are also loaded with zinc, a key nutrient for testosterone production for both men and women. Foods high in protein and zinc, like oysters, have been credited with keeping men virile well into old age. But the scientists caution you’d have to eat an overwhelming number of oysters to really get the benefits. Even in his sexual prime, the famous lover Casanova supposedly ate 50 oysters every day to keep his stamina in top form.
Bivalves aren’t the only seafood libido boosters. A few years ago the tuna industry was gleefully touting canned tuna as “Viagra of the Sea.” That notion was spawned by a book titled “Temptations, Igniting the Pleasure and Power of Aphrodisiacs” that claimed diet changes can “awaken a sleepy libido.” It recommended eating more canned tuna to boost the intake of omega-3s. Since researchers believe omega-3 fatty acids help ward off depression, the book concludes that eating more tuna lifts your spirits, resulting in a better love life.
Alaska’s salmon industry can ride on the coat tails of that claim. For more than a decade, health scientists have listed wild salmon as containing more omega-3s than tuna. Spread the love.
“I love oysters. It’s like kissing the sea on the lips.” Jean-Paul Farque
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council will review the Bering Sea crab catch share program during the week of Dec. 6 in Anchorage.
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