Alaska salmon industry woes over a large surplus of wild salmon are getting some relief from the US Department of Agriculture, which will purchase up to $30 million worth of canned sockeye salmon.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said Aug. 4 that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack agreed to her request to purchase the surplus canned red salmon for the Emergency Food Assistance Program.
With more Americans nationwide in need of help from food banks, Alaskan sockeye salmon is an ideal source of heart healthy protein, Murkowski said.
“Knowing that Alaska has tons of excess canned sockeye salmon hurting our fishing industry, this seemed a great fit to clear their shelves and help out those who are still waiting to feel an economic recovery,” she said.
The 2014 harvest of sockeye salmon in Alaska was the second highest in the past decade and this year the sockeye harvest has exceeded 35 million fish.
As a result, seafood producers are holding onto an unprecedented inventory of canned sockeye salmon, which only continues to grow,” Murkowski said in a letter to Vilsack in late July.
In September of 2014, Vilsack, again at the request of Murkowski, agreed to purchase $13 million in canned pink salmon for The Emergency Food Assistance program. The program provides food aid to state governments, who will then distribute it to food banks and other local distributors.
In 2013, the USDA purchased $30 million in canned wild Alaska pink salmon, again to lower the abundance of surplus stocks and aid food banks.