A dreary Chinook forecast aside, fishermen on the Lower Yukon River are anticipating a robust run of oil-rich summer chum salmon to fill market orders both domestically and in Europe.
“We have good markets,” said Jack Schultheis, sales manager for Kwik’Pak, at Emmonak, a subsidiary of the Yukon Delta Fisheries Development Association. The big question was how well buyers in England will respond to change, what with the state of Alaska embracing Global Trust over the Marine Stewardship Council to conduct third party certification of Alaska salmon fisheries.
Schultheis said in an interview June 4 that he expected to have 500 commercial fishing permit holders from the Lower Yukon River beginning to deliver their harvest once the fishery opened in late June.
That harvest, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, is projected at a potential 500,000 to one million salmon. The fall chum surplus potentially available for commercial harvest is anticipated at 500,000 to 700,000 fish. Schultheis said he anticipates prices to fishermen will be about the same as those paid in 2011, 75 cents a pound for summer chum and one dollar a pound for fall chum.
No directed harvest of king salmon was anticipated.
Alaska’s wild salmon certification through the Marine Stewardship Council ends in October, and the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation has selected Global Trust to do its third party certification after that. AFDF made that decision in January after nine processors, including Kwik’Pak decided to pull the stopper on funds for third party certification through MSC, verifying that theirs is a sustainable fishery that adheres to best practices.
Alaska processors have expressed much concern over the past few years over the need to distinguish Alaska’s wild seafood from other wild seafood certified by MSC, to maintain the Alaska brand from a state where sustainability of seafood is mandated in the state constitution.
In April, the Purse Seine Vessel Owners Association in Seattle, which represents many fishing vessel owners operating on the West Coast and in Alaska, opted to be the new MSC client for certification of Alaska’s salmon fisheries.