USDA buys $68M of wild Alaska salmon, rockfish

Federal agriculture officials recently purchased 3.7 million pounds of wild Alaska sockeye salmon, as four-ounce fillet portions, plus 716,800 cases of half-pound cans worth $60 million, and $8 million worth of Pacific rockfish fillets from Alaska and the West Coast. 

The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) said in an announcement on July 26 that the purchases were made via Section 32 under the Secretary of Agriculture’s authority. 

Section 32 benefits domestic fisheries by making purchases in response to supply chain disruptions and various other market difficulties. The fish is then used to provide high quality, sustainable seafood protein to Americans via food banks and other food aid distribution outlets from July through the end of the year. 

Bruce Schactler, food air program and development director for ASMI, said he had been working on these purchases ever since the Bristol Bay salmon fishery ended last fall. When the deal finally came to fruition a little later than he had hoped, it was a good deal for everyone, Schactler said. It took a lot of versatile fish, he said. 

ASMI officials noted that in June the USDA purchased 47,000 cases of one pound (tall) canned pink salmon for food banks and 910,000 pounds of Alaska pollock block for the National School Lunch Program beginning in September of 2023. In May, the USDA announced a purchase of 1.3 million pounds of wild Alaska pollock frozen sticks and fillets portions for schools and food banks with deliveries starting in August. 

ASMI also noted that USDA is purchasing more seafood to help school children, as well as others participating in food programs, and food bank consumers, to meet USDA nutritional guidelines for two servings a week of seafood.