April 18, 2005
When compared to the harvest forecast, the salmon purchasing and processing capacity for the upcoming season is expected to exceed the projected statewide harvests of sockeye, pink, and coho salmon. However, in some areas the capacity may be less than that needed to process local harvests. The largest shortages in salmon capacity identified from the survey were for Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim (AYK) chum salmon (a shortage of 632,000 fish), and sockeye (a shortage of 470,000 fish) and pink salmon (a shortage of 323,000 fish) on the Alaska Peninsula. The largest pink and chum salmon fisheries in Prince William Sound, Southeast/Yakutat, and Kodiak should have more than enough capacity to process the harvests expected in those areas.
Although the survey results suggested capacity shortages for sockeye salmon in Bristol Bay, pink salmon in Cook Inlet, and chinook salmon in Southeast/Yakutat, information collected from other sources indicates that sufficient capacity exists to handle the expected harvests for those areas. Small capacity shortages were also suggested for other areas, but some of these apparent shortages likely will be made up by the capacity of smaller processors that were not included in the survey. Capacity shortages are expected for all salmon species in the Chignik area.
A small increase in the number of tenders provided by processors is expected in 2005. Processors also expect to buy salmon from more fishermen than they did last year. The percentages vary by area, but increases generally will be less than 25% for both tenders and fishermen.
The processing capacity estimated from the survey should be interpreted as a snapshot of estimated capacity at the time the survey was conducted. This survey was conducted early in the year, and operational plans of processors may change before the salmon fishing season begins. Because processors are still developing their plans and because there is some inherent uncertainty in the department's harvest forecast, the estimated salmon capacity is not a guarantee that there will be sufficient capacity for the entire harvest in all areas, nor is there an implied guarantee that all fishermen will have buyers for all of their salmon throughout the season.
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