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Copper River sockeye at all-time high prices this year

Sockeye salmon congregate before spawning. (KTUU)
Sockeye salmon congregate before spawning. (KTUU)(KTUU)
Published: Jun. 25, 2021 at 6:58 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Increased prices seem to be a common trend lately for a lot of things, and that’s no different for Copper River sockeye this year.

”I think the factors that are really driving what’s going on in the Copper River are likely to be kind of global in scale,” said Brett Watson, an economist at the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Institute for Social and Economic Research.

Peter Pan Seafood released an advisory in May, saying they would pay $12.60 per pound for Copper River sockeye salmon. The advisory also stated that the price is an all-time high for sockeye out of the Copper River.

”That’s your first salmon to the market, said Jon Hickman, executive vice president of operations for the company. “There’s been no fresh salmon and there’s lots of markets that are hungry for that then.

In comparison, last week the company also announced their base price for sockeye from Bristol Bay saying they’re committed to $1.10 per pound.

”We felt it was our responsibility to come out with a price to give the guys a comfort level that they had a fair price paid to them for the season,” Hickman said, and noted that the Bristol Bay sockeye run is completely different from the Copper River sockeye run.

“I don’t think you can compare these side by side,” he said. “You’ve got a volume fishery in Bristol Bay where things get more consistent and stable, whereas in Copper River, you have the first fish on the market that’s not a big volume, people are hungry for it.”

Watson said there are likely two factors that could be contributing to recent price increases for seafood, including Copper River sockeye.

“Right now costs for a lot of goods that fishermen use are on the uptick right now,” he said. “Probably most important are gas prices, so gas prices have definitely increased over the last year as we see kind of stronger demand for fuel.”

Watson added that the demand has gone up as lockdowns and restrictions have eased.

”We’re seeing just really strong demand for lots of different types of food commodities,” said Watson, who noted that it is good news for commercial fishermen. “The prices tend to get passed on to the fishermen, both when they’re on the upswing and when they’re swinging down, so yeah, I think commercial fishermen should look forward to better values this year than they did last (year).”

Watson expects seafood prices to remain high through the rest of the year.

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