2013 was a year for the record books, with Alaska seeing the largest salmon harvest ever with more than 272 million fish caught in total. The huge harvest was powered by an incredible number of pink salmon, Alaska’s smallest and most abundant salmon species. The 219 million pink salmon comprised more than 80% of the total harvest and surpassed the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG) pre-season forecast for all five salmon species combined. This landmark season is valued at $691.1 million, second only to the 1988 harvest worth $724 million.
Known for their mild flavor, tender texture and rosy pink flesh, much of Alaska pink salmon is found in shelf-stable canned, pouched and frozen forms. This convenient and affordable pantry staple serves as the foundation for classic recipes such as croquettes, salmon burgers, soups and chowders, casseroles, salads and more. Given the huge Alaska harvest, now is an excellent time to incorporate pink salmon into meal planning, industry observers say. Alaska pink salmon can also be grilled, roasted, and paired with sauce.
Canned salmon has a long heritage in Alaska. Dating back to canneries in the late 19thcentury, Alaska salmon serves as the primary economic backbone of dozens of communities across the state. Passed down from generation to generation, Alaskans consider fishing more than just a job—it’s a way of life. In fact, seafood resources are considered so precious that their sustainable management is mandated by the Alaska constitution.
“We’re proud of the heritage of our salmon fisheries and our commitment to their sustainability. This year’s record-breaking harvest was especially exciting, and we’re hoping to spread the word about the excellent taste and versatility of Alaska pink salmon,” says Tyson Fick, communications director for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI). “Pink salmon is the most affordable wild salmon species available and many consumers prefer its mild flavor.”
In addition to flavor, wild Alaska pink salmon offers numerous health benefits, as they are an excellent source of protein, omega-3s, calcium, selenium, phosphorous and potassium. Pink salmon can be a sensible addition to the menus of health-conscious home cooks. With the American Heart Association and the FDA recommending that everyone enjoy two servings of seafood per week, and with only one in five American adults and one in 10 American children meeting that recommendation, Alaska pink salmon are an easy, family-friendly way to eat more healthy seafood, observers say.