Silver Bay, North Pacific Seafoods post base price for Bristol Bay reds

Bristol Bay sockeye prices are circulating but still no word on Copper River prices after yesterday's opener. Fishermen report good fishing for sockeyes.

by | May 17, 2024

Copper River prices still unknown after first May 16 opener

Industry sources Seafood Source and Intrafish report that Silver Bay and North Pacific Seafoods are offering an $.80 per pound base price for Bristol Bay sockeye this summer. And with handling and quality incentives, fishermen can earn as much as $0.30 more above the base prices, says Intrafish editor John Fiorillo.

Intrafish is covering the first days of the Copper River salmon opener LIVE.

On Thursday, Silver Bay’s CEO Cora Campbell told IntraFish that fishermen delivering chilled Bristol Bay fish to its processing facility will receive $1.10 per pound. A bonus on top of that will be paid for fish that have been bled.

The base price for fish that are not chilled will be $0.80, she said.

In 2023 the base prices for Bristol Bay salmon weren’t announced until July, and fishermen eventually received just $.52 per pound on average.

Other processors are expected to match the early prices offered, although Trident has yet to post a salmon price.

Intrafish said that Trident has, however, talked about some changes when it comes to pay.

In a letter to its fleet earlier this year Trident informed fishermen of changes to a “two-tiered” fish-quality incentive program that supersedes past practices based on fish “core temperature.”

“Instead of separate premiums for chill, bleeding and floating, deliveries will be eligible for a single premium based on core fish temperature,” the letter said. “Going forward we are prioritizing core fish temperature and encouraging fleet to start chilling as quickly as possible and deliver more often. Floating is also important, but it will not be incentivized separately.”

Influences on fish core temperatures Credit: Midcurrent

The Trident letter explained two tiers of incentive pay: Tier 1 pays an incentive of $0.30 per pound for sockeye deliveries with an average core temperature of 38 degrees and cooler; Tier 2 pays an incentive of $0.20 per pound for deliveries with an average core temperature of between 38.1 and 44 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the letter.

That could be trickier than it sounds, writes National Fisherman’s Charlie Ess.

“A looming question is how core temperatures will be monitored and may require the use of remote sensors to ascertain that the loads of fish are chilled to the specifications,” Ess said.

He added: “For fishermen who can’t afford RSW systems and don’t have easy access to ice, this year’s ex-vessel prices will likely mimic last year’s, and that’s not a comforting thought.”

Back at the Copper River – good sockeye catches

A few hours into Thursday’s 16-hour opener, fishing was good for sockeye salmon, ADF&G’s Jeremy Botz told Intrafish, adding that he was “still working to get a good read on kings.”

Rich Wheeler, one of the owners of Cordova’s fishermen-owned Sixty North Seafoods, told IntraFish, “We’re having better fishing than we’ve had in past.” He said fishermen were still waiting to hear what the base price will be for both kings and sockeye, noting processors might be waiting to get a sense of how it will sell on the US market.”

Intrafish added that the majority of fish caught were nice-sized sockeye salmon.

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About Laine

Laine Welch has covered the Alaska fish beat for print and radio since 1988. She also has worked “behind the counter” at retail and wholesale seafood companies in Kodiak and on Cape Cod.

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