Bristol Bay salmon processors are starting to post base prices, and this year’s price is just over half of last year's base price of $1.35.
Fishermen have confirmed that Trident Seafoods, Red Salmon / North Pacific Seafoods, OBI Seafoods, Peter Pan Seafoods, and Silver Bay Seafoods have posted a base price of $0.70 per pound for sockeye. That's just over half of last year's base price of $1.35.
Trident fishermen also confirmed bonuses of $0.15 for RSW, $0.05 for bleeding, and $0.05 for chilling. Silver Bay fishermen have said the processor will pay an additional $0.15 for fall fish.
“Well it’s -- it’s ridiculous, because it’s not worth it at all. Because I’m putting all this money in," says Alex, a captain from Wasilla who fishes for Peter Pan Seafoods. He declined to give his last name. Alex says that coming out of a tough season, he's extremely disappointed with the prices.
"I’m leasing a permit -- just for $20,000. And that’s another ten grand for the boat, and then the stuff that I pay for renting the storage, and then taxes for gear and all this other stuff," he says. "And then what happens is, we get $0.70, so I go home. I can make more money on unemployment.”
Alex says the low base price means it’s not worth investing more into the fishery; he plans to sell his boat.
“I see the season that I could have worked at home, very mild sleep, be with my kids, my wife, and make the same," he says. "Here I only slept for an hour or 30 minutes, and boys that are working their butts off, and we get that? It’s not worth it.”
Heading into the salmon season, seafood market analysts said that a combination of COVID-19-related factors could drop the base price for sockeye this year. Those factors include increased processor costs because of virus mitigation plans and shrinking restaurant demand.
If you fish and have information about your market’s base price that isn’t on our list above, please contact the KDLG fisheries team at firstname.lastname@example.org or 907-842-2200.
KDLG's Izzy Ross contributed to this report.