The U.S. Department of Agriculture Domestic Food Aid program is on a salmon-buying binge. It usually spends $6 million a year buying Alaska Pink Salmon.
This year it has spent $39 million, enough for 200 million servings!
Fishermen who caught 226 million pasture fed pink salmon last fall (2013) and the fish processors who bought that fish are happy to see at least 200 million servings of that nutritious wild salmon on its way to American’s in the USDA Food Aid programs. A great majority of the recipients are American kids in need.
Last years ocean pasture fed bounty was close to three times the catch of this years 80 million Pinks and now millions of cans from that last year are still sitting in warehouses. That super abundance has pushed prices lower. Now that pink salmon from this years 2014 catch are ready for sale, the downward pressure on prices was set to intensify – until the USDA again sprung into action for a third time this year. Their first purchase was back in the early spring of 2014, a second came in late summer, and now more.
After a spring and summer of pink salmon purchases, the USDA announced it would buy yet more, just as the price for pink salmon was being set.
“Wild salmon come out of the water once a year. They come out of the water in the summer,” said Tom Sunderland of Ocean Beauty Seafoods, one of the Puget Sound region’s canning and distributing giants. “And then we have to work real hard to figure out exactly what the value is. So that’s what we’re doing right now, and we figure out every year. Once the price is set, it’s set.”
Pink salmon is among the lower-cost salmon available on the grocery store. King, coho and sockeye are expensive and at the fresh fish counter. Keta and pink are on the shelf.
But at Fishermen’s Terminal, pink salmon is the fish that is most important. “Pink Salmon are the bread and butter of our industry,” said Gary Stewart, owner of the Polar Lady. “It drives everything else. It’s got to be be 60 or 70 percent [of the annual catch].”
The big purse seiners based in Seattle that sail north every summer rely heavily on them. Tenders – boats that ferry fishermen’s catches from the sea to the cannery – can expect that most fish they take in will be pinks. The big companies that can and distribute the fish also depend on the large profit from pink salmon.
This means the annual haul of pink salmon has a far-reaching affect on the economy. Jobs are on the line, which means politicians in Alaska got involved when the huge abundance of pink salmon became apparent. Their pressure moved the USDA to buy more salmon. It was a win win for all. The kids in need get nutritious salmon and the fishing industry gets some support on pricing.
Ocean Pastures Corp. is now working to implement new ocean pasture restoration projects that will continue to restore and replenish ocean pastures and keep bringing the fish back year after year.
IT JUST WORKS!
Millions of American kids in need now receiving nutritious pasture fed Alaska salmon are proof of that!