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3-Minute Market Insight

EP 437 | AIRED 05/13/2019

Will There Be A Fraser River Sockeye Fishery This Year?

May 13th, 2019 - Pre-season salmon discussions are buzzing through the market, with expectations for concrete harvest projections next month for Canadian fisheries.

As always, the commercial harvests depend on favourable environmental conditions during the summer months as well as a strong return.

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Scientists at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans indicated they will meet in June to discuss scenarios for the upcoming season which will give the most up to date forecast.

DFO released pre-season estimates in February, forecasting 5 million pink salmon next season, considerably lower than the long-term-average of 12.7 million.

Moving on to Sockeye, the Fraser River Sockeye is regarded as one of the most important commercial fisheries in British Columbia, but in recent years has seen environmental concerns causing closures.

In reports discussing survival trends, DFO stated atypical zooplankton communities as a cause for warm water conditions.

High river temperatures and high discharge rates contribute to poor migration conditions, requiring more fish to pass through the fisheries to meet spawning targets after DFO compensates for expected mortality en-route.

4.8 million Sockeye are forecasted at 50 percent probability for the Fraser River in 2019 - made up of four year old Sockeye spawned in 2015 and 5-year-olds from 2014.

For comparison, 2018 estimates originally showed 14 million as a median estimate for the Fraser River.

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DFO officials advised that although the 2019 forecast is low, there is a harvestable surplus that would result in a commercial total allowable catch.

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--- For comparison, Alaskan Salmon returns are expected to be increased overall for 2019, primarily due to pink salmon projections.

137.8 million pink salmon and 41.7 million Sockeye salmon are forecasted for Alaska this year.

This would be a strong year for Pink as cyclically expected but 8.9 million fewer Sockeye salmon than in 2018.

--- Overall, the trend appears to be lower expectations for Sockeye salmon than last season, which will drive pricing to a higher level than last season.

Pricing was in the high $7s for 1-3lb IVP Sockeye salmon fillets through the fall last year.

Based on higher returns and a strong Russian forecast, we can also predict that pink salmon pricing is set to come down on finished goods.

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