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3-Minute Market Insight

EP 515 | AIRED 11/23/2020

Chum, Sockeye, Halibut All Short; What Should You Do?

November 23rd, 2020 --- This week we provide another Q4 Multi Species Buyer's Update as we push through Holiday Season purchasing and prepare for Chinese New Year Closures - all admidst a dramatic second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, sweeping through North America..

--- Starting with Salmon and the H&G market for Sockeye's is becoming more scarce.

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Overall, Sockeye harvest this year is considered low with Alaska's 2020 season totalling 46.1 million Sockeye's, compared to their 2019 harvest of 55.5 million - meanwhile Canadian and Washington state fisheries continue to struggle to produce any Salmon at all.

With a strong fresh market and continued consumer demand, we don't believe there will be much H+G Sockeye's after December and 2-4lb will remain short for the foreseeable future.

In a November 13th press release, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game predicted a strong Bristol Bay specific Sockeye run, with returns of over 51 million fish - translating to a commercial harvest of 36.35 million fish.

Alaska Sockeye harvest

Bristol Bay is the largest producer of Salmon in Alaska.

The release also predicts nearly half of the fish to be the 1.2 age class Sockeye (meaning the fish have spent one year in freshwater and two years in saltwater), while the remainder of the run to be 1.3.

Aligning with new research that Salmon are getting smaller, ADFG Manager Tim Sands noted that larger runs do seem to be returning smaller fish.

--- Moving onto Chum's and another poor harvest year out of British Columbia and Puget Sound (coined with a poor Alaska harvest of 8.7 million fish) have flipped the Chum Market on it's head as we are seeing some of the highest prices seen in years - if not ever.

Brite Skin Chum's are extremely short right now, Good Meat Color Chum's are limited as most landings have been producing Dark Pales.

Alaska Sockeye harvest

With Puget Sound's Chum fishery essentially finished for the year, we recommend you start thinking about your future buys and the outlook of using another species.

The market will hit a point where Chums will be unavailable.

Alaska typically produces about 20 million Chums per year - a stark comparison to B.C. and Washington fisheries which each typically see about a million Chum's harvested but more recently have experienced steep declines since 2018.

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--- And lastly onto Halibut.

As the 2020 Pacific Halibut fishery comes to a close, 82 percent of the fishery limits has been landed producing 22.4 million lbs for the market.

Despite a season that took place throughout the COVID-19 pandemic on a premium white-tablecloth item, H+G Halibut and Fletches will be short for the coming month.

2020 Pacific Halibut fishery

Halibut buyers, that should have purchased all their needs before the season ended, are about to find themselves in a predicament and may have to look for alternatives such as Atlantic Halibut.

Do keep in mind the Canadian Pacific Halibut fishery has it's season extended for fishing until December 7th.

--- With that said, we urgently advise you to get your purchasing needs in now - long enough to get you through to Chinese New Year.

2020 Pacific Halibut fishery

For Salmon, even Russian supply may soon become problematic, as recent analysis out of Russia's Fisheries Reseach Institute reports that Pacific Salmon catch in the Far Eastern Basin is 100,000 tonnes lower than the 384,000 forecasted.

This catch is being cited as the lowest catch rate since 2009.

We also advise that you keep tuned-in weekly to our Market Insights as we nagivate this precarious time of year

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