Sockeye (salmon) fishermen are expecting processor prices to start solidifying soon as the season continues to wind down after peaking nearly two weeks ago, one fisherman told Undercurrent News.
Earlier this month Undercurrent reported that sockeye salmon in Bristol Bay had reached its peak harvest on July 15, with a harvests of about 2.41 million fish, and catches have been dropping steadily since then.
According to the latest data published on Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s daily run summary, by the end of last week, the total run of sockeye salmon in Bristol Bay hit 46.96m fish. On July 21, the most recent date for which there is catch data, there were 727,100 fish caught.
Fishermen expecting 75 cents a pound
Last month Copper River Seafoods set a base price at 75 cents per pound, with bonuses available up $1.25 per pound, and according to one fishermen out of Bristol Bay who wished to remain unnamed, fishermen are expecting other processors to also set a 75 cent price.
The processors in general have remained “characteristically silent” about prices, but expects prices to be revealed “very soon”, the source said.
“All I hear is rumors,” he said. “In normal years it would be over by now…it’s a little later than normal, but I have a feeling that pretty soon prices are going to be known.”
Last year ex-vessel prices for sockeye dived from over $1/lb to 50 cents, upsetting fishermen and prompting unprecedented marketing efforts by the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association.
According to the fisherman, several years ago 75 cents would have upset fishermen, but given last year’s prices, they would be “content” with 75 cents.
“I think everyone is expecting 75 cents, and around here they’ve caught so many fish that 75 cents is going to make them pretty good money so they’re more content than last year,” he said. “Seventy five cents could be an outrageous prices in other years, right now it’s not horrible.”
One sockeye buyer told Undercurrent that on the wholesale side, prices, which stand in the low $4/lb range, have likely bottomed out.
“For the past couple weeks prices have been somewhat steady, but they’re typically high at the beginning and it gradually comes down. I think we’re at the bottom [and that prices] have stabilized. I don’t anticipate them dropping anymore, and if they do it won’t be by much,” he said.
Fishermen were expecting higher year-on-year prices early on due to higher farmed prices, among other factors.
“The bigger picture in salmon of course is production in the farmed market, from studies we’ve seen that tends to affect what people pay in the market more than any single thing,” said Glen Reed at the Pacific Seafood Processors Association. “The algal bloom that they had in Chile a month ago has reduced supply and that has been, on the whole, a net positive in Alaska by reducing supply.”
The fisherman said that the salmon run is stronger out of Bristol Bay than expected this year, and processors are holding off on naming prices for as long as they can.
“We couldn’t predict that [the run would go on so long], and now we don’t know when it’ll end, I can’t imagine it can go on much longer,” he said.
Re-printed with permission of Under Current News. Original news story at: https://www.undercurrentnews.com/2016/07/26/sockeye-fishermen-expecting-processor-prices-to-be-set-soon/