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40% of wild Canadian Pacific Salmon frozen and going to markets in EEC, Japan and US.

40% of Wild Canadian Pacific Salmon Frozen And Going to Markets in EEC, Japan and US

The Fisheries Council of British Columbia recently issued statistics about wild Canadian Pacific Salmon harvests. A summary of the facts and figures from the Vancouver-headquartered trade association -- which represents 80% of the region's output -- follows.

Low supplies last year -- especially of sockeye (red) and pink salmon -- combined with high demand to push prices up to unusually lofty levels. Average prices on the grounds were: C$ 12.34 per kg for dressed head-off troll caught sockeye, $11.70 for large spring (also known as king of chinook), $8.32 for coho, $6.27 for chum, $4.04 for pink.

A Council study estimated that salmon tonnage in 1987 -- the most recent year for which hard numbers are available -- was about 33% lower than in 1986, while prices were approximately 25% higher. This brought the value of British Columbia salmon landings to about $225 million, or roughly 50% of the total harvest. Exports that year -- primarily to EEC countries, Japan and the United States -- accounted for about $407 million, or 57% of total foreign sales of fish from the region.

From Whence They Come

The fact that British Columbia salmon are sourced from the wild rather than farm-raised is not lost on its marketers. Born in snow-fed streams, the fertilized life cycle begins when eggs are deposited in waterways each summer and fall. The eggs incubate over the winter before emerging into streams and lakes as fry the following spring. Depending on the species, the fry feed and grow in freshwater environments for up to one year or more.

In the spring the little 10 cm "fingerlings" migrate to distances from 15 km to 1,500 km downstream to the ocean. The juvenile salmon can spend as many as six years feeding in the North Pacific Ocean. Early in the maturation period, they begin the homeward voyage to the stream of their birth.

Pacific salmon undergo rapid physiological changes when reentering freshwater as they cease feeding and draw energy from stored fats and oils. There is a protein conversion from the fish's flesh to its reproductive system as they struggle against turbulent water and predators.

On average a pair of salmon will lay 5,000 fertilized eggs, which, once deposited in stream beds, are covered by protective layers of gravel. With a new generation ensured, the life cycle of the salmon is complete, and the spawning adults die.

After being harvested, the fish are delivered to processing plants where they are separated by species and size, then dressed, washed and graded before being frozen and glazed in ice. Nearly 40% of each year's catch enters the frozen market with 55% canned and 5% sold fresh. Exports usually end up as steaks, roasts and fillets for the retail and foodservice (catering) trades, or may be smoked or cured.
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Title Annotation:QFFI's Global Seafood Magazine; European Economic Community
Publication:Quick Frozen Foods International
Date:Apr 1, 1989
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