Salmon ramps up while other summer fisheries are set to get underway
Peter Pan Seafood upped the ante last Thursday with a new base price for sockeye salmon at Bristol Bay to $1.15/lb. Just a few days prior, the company had announced a base of $1.00/lb.
It’s the second year in a row that “new” Peter Pan has let fishermen know a base price prior to going fishing.
The Deckboss blog by Wesley Loy was the first to post the price increase. (Wes is also longtime editor of Pacific Fishing magazine.) Here’s a statement he provided from Jon Hickman, vice president of operations:
“The reason we make early starting price announcements is to intentionally put the fleet at ease with a starting point so that they know they will receive a fair price for the long hours and hard work they are about to endure participating in the world’s largest sockeye fishery.
“So once again, Peter Pan was the first out with a price in Bristol Bay for the 2022 season. After posting an initial starting price last week, we’ve already increased the starting price to $1.15 as a testimonial to our belief in a valued partnership with the Bristol Bay fishing fleet. We will continue to evaluate the fishery and the market with the hope that price can move up as this possible record Bristol Bay season progresses.”
The forecast calls for over 70 million sockeye salmon to return to Bristol Bay this summer. That pegs the available harvest at 60 million reds – more than 40% above the average for the last decade.
Scallop fishery opens July 1
Alaska’s weathervane scallop fishery occurs each year at Yakutat, Kodiak, Prince William Sound, the Alaska Peninsula, Dutch Harbor and the Bering Sea. Only two boats participate, although nine federal licenses are available.
This year the two boats will compete for a combined catch of 367,500 pounds of shucked meats, which are the adductor muscles that keeps the shells closed. That’s up from 350,000 pounds last season.
Scallops are a wildly popular delicacy and weathervanes are the largest in the world. It takes them five years for to reach a marketable shell size of about five inches. Some can measure 10 inches across!
Scallop boats drop big dredges comprising four inch rings to keep out smaller sizes. They make tows along mostly sandy bottoms of strictly defined fishing regions. The fishery is co-managed with the federal government and has 100 percent observer coverage.
The fishery can last into the winter. It is very labor intensive, involving both catching and processing, said Nat Nichols, area shellfish manager at the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game in Kodiak.
“It also takes a lot of manpower with crews of 12 people shucking by hand. Every Alaska scallop you’ve ever seen was shucked by hand, Nichols said.”
During the 2020/21 season, Alaska scallops had a first wholesale value of $10.43/lb and fleet revenue of $2,358,536. That put the average crew share percentage at $41,274.
Here are the guideline harvest levels and crab bycatch limits for 2022/23 fishery—
Golden king crab catch dips slightly
The golden king crab fishery out west opens on August 1, although AK Native groups can drop pots starting in July. The fishing season lasts through April 30.
Golden king crab is Alaska’s most far-flung, deep water crab fishery occurring way out along the Aleutian Islands. It includes a fleet of five boats which will share a catch quota of just over 5 million pounds from two districts. That’s down from about 6 million pounds last year.
Southeast Alaska also has a small golden king crab fishery each winter. Last season the catch totaled about 157,000 pounds.
The average price paid to fishermen for Alaska golden king crab last season was $11.50/lb.