US - After a strong opening in June, all indicators pointed to a decent harvest of troll-caught coho salmon in Southeast Alaska. Last year, the troll coho fishery landed 1.2 million fish, representing 58 percent of the total coho salmon catch in Alaska, reports Rob Reierson in the Tradex Foods 3-Minute Market Insight.
This year, the non-quota fishery opened on June 1 with strong fishing efforts between July 4 and 24, with the majority of landings destined for the strong sales in the fresh market.
Since then, harvests have rapidly dropped, falling below the five year harvest average for the area.
We spoke with Grant Hagerman, the Assistant Troll Management Biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, to see how this year's fishery compared to previous seasons.
Grant indicated that 980,000 coho salmon have been caught to date, up about 7 per cent over last year's harvests at this time of 920,000 fish.
Coho harvests have been weak for several weeks, indicative of a different focus, like king salmon to cover fishing costs.
According to Grant, the past 4 days have seen improvements and we can expect a spike in harvests in September.
The coho fishery was closed for 4 weeks for conservation purposes, and upon re-opening the coho were coming in 1lb bigger than last year.
Grant also alluded to higher docks pricing this year, up about $1 from last year at just over $2.00 per pound.
Stronger docks pricing could be a result of slower returns in the Columbia River due to recent restrictions.
Last year prices were down due to high leftover inventories, which is not the case this year.
Current pricing on H&G coho, where available, is around $3.50 - $3.60 / lb USD for 6-9s in Seattle.
Value added products like 4oz IQF skin-on Coho portions can be found in the high $3s in the Seattle area, with limited inventories.
After a dismal harvest overall in Alaska for pinks and chums, buyers could run into trouble if poor coho landings persist.