Monday, July 19, 2010

Bristol Bay catch falls short, but value is ... wow!

It's pretty clear now that this season's catch of Bristol Bay sockeye won't reach the state forecast of 30.5 million fish.

But a strong price can make up for lost fish. And from what I'm hearing, this could be one of the most lucrative hauls in many years.

Through the weekend, the harvest tally was 27.2 million sockeye.

Catch rates are dropping fast now, with lots of fishermen pulling their boats from the water and heading home. Traditionally, it's right around this time that processors post their base prices for fish.

Deckboss hears reliably that one processor is paying 96 cents a pound.

That's a leap from the 70 cents the major packers paid in 2009.

The average Bristol Bay sockeye weighs around six pounds, so take that times 27.2 million fish and then multiply the result by 96 cents and you get a total fishery value of about $157 million.

That's the highest level in 15 years.

So, what's propelling the higher prices?

A couple of probable factors: Lower output of farmed salmon from Chile due to a virus outbreak and February's earthquake, and the collapse of the Fraser River sockeye run in British Columbia.


Anonymous said...

It's about time they pay!

Sockeye said...

I would say the Fraser collapse has little to do with the price paid for fish in the Bay. We are looking at a generally down year in terms of harvest and production. Kodiak, Sand Point and Chignik have been busts for sockeye. SE will be a non event this year.
The Bay will come in 7-8% under harvest predictions. The can pack will be low statewide. Supply and demand force this price up.
One last thing to note, with many processors requiring chilling of some sort or method, the real value of this fishery to fishermen is more in the neighborhood of $1.20/lbs.

Anonymous said...

While flying out of King Salmon on July 16, I heard from a reporter that a Togiak processor was paying out at $1.25 per pound. Could this be true? I have yet to confirm this intel. If anyone hears something more, please post.

Sockeye said...

Yes, for early fresh fly-out fish.

Linduh said...

Salmon is selling at $11.97/lb here at the local store in Illinois. Phew! Pricey. Sorry boys. Gonna have to pass on the yummy until the price drops.

Anonymous said...

SE is a non-event?

Prices are high and the fleet is pretty happy (but Wes is asleep at the wheel):

Sockeye said...

Non event in terms of it being a generally down tear for harvest. AGS is at half crew, OB is not running a plant, Silver Bay can't run 24 hrs in Sitka. Little fish for Craig. Chum harvest was weak. Pinks are a week behind.
So yeah, in terms of Wes' initial thread, I am saying whatever harvest is taken in SE will not be a significant event to saturate the market with fish and therefore we will continue to see generally high ex-vessel prices this year.