Uncertainty captures the mood as fishermen and processors await the world's biggest sockeye salmon run at Bristol Bay. In fact, it's being called the riskiest season in recent memory in the 2014 Sockeye Market Analysis, a biannual report done by the McDowell Group for the fishermen-run Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association.
As presaged by buyer pushback at seafood trade shows earlier this year in Boston and Brussels, the starting price for the first sockeyes from Copper River took a 50 cents per pound dip. At an average $3.50 per pound, it was down 13 percent from 2013 -- the first decline since 2010.
"Probably more so than any recent year, processors are having pressure from both the buying side -- more competition for fish in Bristol Bay -- and on the selling side there is a very large sockeye forecast from the Fraser River (in British Columbia). And that fishery takes place in August well after Alaska's sockeye fisheries are done," said Andy Wink, Seafood Project Manager at McDowell Group.