California fishermen report the biggest salmon season in a decade

Sharing an article by Tara Duggan
June 21, 2019 Updated: June 21, 2019 4:55 p.m.

California commercial fishermen are reporting the biggest king salmon season in a decade, on the heels of three years of disastrously low catches because of the drought. The sudden bounty has resulted in a price drop for the coral-pink, fatty fillets to $20 per pound in many markets, down from the $30- to $35-per-pound range of recent years.

  • salmon fisherman on a dock
    Pacific Sea boat captain Tom Wallace (right) assists fish processors Mark Adams (center) and Ronald Black as they work through multiple hauls of salmon while on the dock of Pier 45 at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco on June 21. Photo: Jessica Christian / The Chronicle

“You might say this is the old normal, because we’ve been so used to catastrophe,” said Noah Oppenheim, executive director at the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations. “Consumers who have been facing tough prices because of scarcity of California salmon are seeing a much more accessible product.”

Traditionally a signal of summer in Northern California, the fish will finally be plentiful again in time for Fourth of July barbecue season. While supermarkets like Safeway and Lucky didn’t have fresh local salmon in stock this week, Whole Foods had it on special for $22.99 per pound and Monterey Fish in Berkeley and Bi-Rite Market in San Francisco for $19.99, which a Bi-Rite employee said was its lowest price of the season.

It’s a huge shift for the local salmon fishing fleet after three difficult seasons, which traditionally run from May to October. The seasons were cut short to protect the population of Chinook salmon born in or migrated from the Sacramento River Delta during the 2014-16 drought; the 2016 and 2017 seasons were declared federal disasters for the fishery.

Read more on the San Francisco Chronical Website.