Alaska’s record salmon season has permit brokers hopping as buyers seek to break into or expand their opportunities in many fisheries.
Notably, brokers say there is “a lot of great buzz” at Bristol Bay, despite a lackluster sockeye fishery that saw the bulk of the red run come and go eight days early.
Alaska’s 2013 salmon season has yielded the largest catch ever, and the value of the fishery is also headed for the record books.
The statewide catch on Sept. 6 was nearing 265 million fish; the old record was 222 million in 2005.
Want to know the average fish prices at the docks over a decade; or where most Alaska fishermen and fishing fleets call home? What about how Alaska’s seafood industry stacks up against other state industries?
Alaska salmon continue to get broadsided by ill-informed, far-away big wigs who believe they are best suited to make seafood choices for their customers.
Sodexo, one of the world’s largest food service contractors, said last week that its policy is to only serve seafood certified by (you guessed it) the London-based Marine Stewardship Council. In this case, the fish is targeted to the U.S. troops. Sodexo, a Fortune 500 company home-based in France, has an eight-year contract to provide food services to U.S. military mess halls, including $22 million of seafood each year.
Alaska salmon catches are poised to blow past the pre-season forecast of 179 million fish due to a plug of pinks that is coming in stronger than expected.
“We are going to be short on sockeyes by five million or so, and we’re probably not going to make the chum salmon numbers either. So we’ll have to go over with pinks, but at the rate things are going that is entirely possible,” said Geron Bruce, deputy director of Fish and Game’s Commercial Fisheries division.
Oncorhynchus! Any doubts about the brand power of Alaska salmon can be put to rest after the high visibility contretemps over the past few weeks – and the fish story has a happy ending.
All of Alaska’s “powers that be” converged on Wal-Mart and the National Park Service when both reportedly snubbed Alaska salmon over a labeling issue. Both Governor Sean Parnell and Senator Mark Begich sent letters to Wal-Mart, blasting the ill-advised decision. Senator Lisa Murkowski verbally (and very publicly) spanked the NPS for not following its own rules.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, get ready for millions of undersea images; all brought to you by a handmade, high-definition undersea camera.
“Alaska Cam Sled is a towed imaging system that takes a lot of high-resolution pictures of the bottom of the ocean,” said Gregg Rosenkranz, a state scallop biometrician based in Kodiak.
It might sound like a whopper of a fish story, but Alaska salmon is not good enough for Wal-Mart or the U.S. National Park Service.
The reason? Alaska’s wild-caught salmon does not brandish a specific eco-label verifying that it is sustainably managed – as determined by two Outside groups: the London-based Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) or the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California.
The rules that govern our nation’s fisheries are being retooled, so it’s reassuring that Congress isn’t traveling in uncharted seas.
More than 80 percent of Alaska’s fish landings hail come from federally managed waters, and the Magnuson-(Ted) Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act is the primary law ruling U.S. fisheries. The Act is undergoing reauthorization for the first time in seven years.
Alaska spends more than $20 million on fish feed each year for its 35 salmon hatcheries — feed that comes primarily from anchovies caught in South America. Meanwhile, Alaska seafood processing companies produce more than 200,000 tons of fishmeal each year — for customers in Asia.
Last year, 33 million fish — 20 percent of the total Alaska salmon harvest — originated in hatcheries; in some years, the figure has topped 30 percent. At Prince William Sound, for example, 73 percent of the salmon catch originated in local hatcheries.