Sockeye bounty means lower prices

Gillnetters Dave Secord (left) and Albert Armstrong use a 600-foot net to haul 120 salmon onto their boat WednesdayPhotograph by: Ian Smith, PNG

There is a palpable buzz in Steveston. This year’s sockeye run may be the largest since 1913 with an estimated 25 million sockeye expected to flood the Fraser River.

The sense of expectation among the fishermen as they stowed the last of the gear aboard their small vessels was as pervasive as the smell of burnt diesel.

These are people who have watched their livelihoods shrink to almost nothing, who haven’t been allowed a minute’s fishing for Fraser sockeye in the last three years, and now the fishery has been thrown open for an unheard-of 32 hours. … [read full article]

Although the strong run is good news, the large supply is already driving prices down for fishermen. Fisherman David Secord told the Vancouver Sun, “We went on strike 40 years ago to get a better price than we’re getting now.” Earlier in the season, buyers were paying $1.75 per pound but the price has already decreased to $1.35 and may go lower still.

While large processors are already working to supply overseas markets, independent fishermen may have a difficult time accessing brokers and cold-storage facilities.

Lawrence Brew, at Cloverdale Cold Storage Ltd., a big handler of frozen fish, said his company was running flat-out trying to keep up and has had to turn customers away.

“A lot of independent [fishermen] called us this year who we hadn’t heard from in years wanting to reopen their accounts, but we’re just overwhelmed and haven’t been able to accomodate them,” Brew said. … [read full article]

Update: Read the story, “B.C. Salmon Bonanza’s Benefits Ripple Ashore,” at the CBC featuring our very own Rob Hart.

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