Alaska’s salmon harvest set to grow by 39percent
Commercial salmon harvests are expected to leap by 39 percent this year, especially for pink salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha). The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG) said it expects a jump from 129 million fish in 2012 to 179 million fish in 2013, in large part thanks to more abundant pink salmon harvests.
The total haul for 2013 is expected to consist of 110,000 chinook salmon (O. tshawytscha) outside of Southeast Alaska, 34.3 million sockeye (O. nerka), 3.9 million silver, 117.8 million pink and 22.7 million chum salmon (O. keta). According to projections, the pink salmon harvest this year is a massive 73 percent higher than last year’s 68 million. In contrast, the projected sockeye and chum salmon harvests are expected to remain where they are.
Alaska’s all-species salmon harvest last year totalled 127.1 million, or about 5.0 million less than the forecast of 132.1 million. This harvest was composed of 349,000 chinook salmon, 35.4 million sockeye salmon, 3.1 million coho salmon, 68.0 million pink salmon and 20.1 million chum salmon. ADFG is expecting the sockeye salmon harvest to be about one percent lower than 2012’s, and that of chum salmon to be one percent higher.
Meanwhile, Gunnar Knapp, a fisheries economist and interim director of the University of Alaska Anchorage Institute of Social and Economic Research, said the global demand for salmon is likely to keep growing as a result of rising incomes, public awareness of the health benefits of salmon and new product forms that appeal to a wider variety of consumers. Further, as wild salmon are in limited supply, there is a potential for niche market differentiation, he said, The Cordova Times reports.
Knapp noted that even the production of farmed fish is limited due to the ongoing risk of disease and curtailed access to fish oil and fish meal feed.
At the same time, he said, Alaska’s salmon fishers are not home free – they are still up against resource uncertainty, the possibility that farmed salmon supply growth will surpass demand, potential competition from other fish species and uncertainty as regards the economy and politics.
Yet, as of February the general market outlook looks relatively favourable as far as 2013 goes, Knapp said, mentioning potentially lower sockeye harvest volumes and robust canned salmon markets.