Salmon

Types and Sources of Products

The term “salmon” refers to a variety of species that are all “anadromous” fish, which means they are born in fresh water rivers and streams, migrate to the ocean to mature and spend much of their adult life, and then return to the streams and rivers in which they were born to spawn (reproduce) and then die. Six types of salmon are consumed in the United States including: Atlantic, Chinook, Chum, Coho, Pink, and Sockeye Salmon. Of these, five species (Chinook, Chum, Coho, Pink and Sockeye) are harvested from wild fisheries in the Pacific Ocean and one type, Atlantic salmon, is primarily farmed raised.

Salmon has been the third most frequently consumed seafood product in the U.S. for most of the past decade. Average consumption has consistently been around 2 pounds per person per year, surpassed only by shrimp and canned tuna. Two-thirds of the salmon consumed in the United States is farmed and imported primarily from Norway, Chile and Canada. U.S. commercial landings of salmon were 1 billion pounds valued at $687.8 million—an increase of 447.2 million pounds (80%) and almost $267.5 million (64%) compared with 2016. Alaska accounted for nearly 98 percent of total landings; Washington, 2 percent; California, Oregon, and the Great Lakes accounted for less than 1 percent of the catch. Sockeye salmon landings were 291.6 million pounds valued at $323.7 million—an increase of over 4.3 million pounds (2%) and $73.5 million (more than 29%) compared with 2016. Chinook salmon landings decreased to 9 million pounds—down 2.9 million pounds (over 24%) from 2016. Pink salmon landings were 495.3 million pounds—an increase of 365 million (280%); chum salmon landings were 177.1 million—an increase of nearly 75.8 million (75%); and coho salmon increased to 35.2 million—an increase of nearly 4.9 million (16%) compared with 2016.

Salmon Facts

Atlantic salmon

  • The majority of salmon currently consumed in the U.S. is farm raised Atlantic salmon from Canada, Chile and Norway.
  • Farmed Atlantic salmon is primarily sold as fresh or frozen dressed fish, fillets or steaks.
  • Commercial fishing for wild Atlantic salmon is prohibited in the U.S. because wild population levels in the eastern U.S. are extremely low.

Pink salmon

  • Almost all the pink salmon harvested in the United States comes from Alaska fisheries with some lesser amounts landed in  Washington, and Oregon.
  • Pink salmon is often sold as a canned product.

Sockeye salmon

  • Sockeye salmon is caught by U.S. fishermen, mainly in Alaskan waters.
  • Sockeye salmon is sold fresh, frozen and canned.

Chum salmon

  • Chum salmon are primarily harvested by U.S. fishermen in Alaska.
  • Wild fish populations in Alaska are supported by the release of hatchery raised fish.
  • Chum salmon are sold fresh, frozen and canned

Coho salmon

  • Most Coho salmon is caught in Alaskan waters, and some is imported from Canada and Chile.
  • Most Coho salmon is sold fresh or frozen.

Chinook (King) salmon

  • Chinook salmon are commercially harvested in Alaska, Washington, Oregon and in small amounts off California.
  • Most Chinook salmon is sold fresh or frozen.


Product Forms

All types of salmon are available in one of three product forms: fresh, frozen or canned. Most of the salmon consumed in the U.S. is either fresh or frozen and the predominant market form in retail stores and restaurants is fillets or steaks. About one fourth or less of the wild domestic salmon catch is canned, and most canned salmon is either pink, chum, or sockeye. Some imported canned salmon is also available in U.S. markets. Smoked salmon is also produced in the U.S. and some is imported. Cold smoked salmon, marketed as "lox" or "nova lox", is a lightly salted, smoked and partially cooked ready-to-eat product that is sold in retail stores and restaurants as an appetizer or as an ingredient in other dishes. Hot smoked salmon is also lightly salted and fully cooked. Most smoked products are made from either Atlantic, King or Coho salmon.

Nutrition Information

All types of salmon provide a good source of high quality protein and the heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids. The fat and omega-3 content varies from one species to another. Total fat content ranges from approximately 4 to 11 grams per 3 ounce cooked serving. Omega-3 fatty acid content ranges from 700 to 1,800 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids per 3 ounce cooked serving. A summary of the fat and omega-3 content of the six commercially important salmon species is provided in the chart below. Salmon is also a good source of a variety of vitamins and minerals. Canned salmon that contains bones is also a good source of calcium.


Salmon Species Total Fat 
(Grams per 100 g serving (raw))
Saturated Fatty Acids (Milligrams per 100 g serving (raw)) Cholesterol 
(Milligrams per 100 g serving (raw))
Atlantic, Farmed 6.34 981 55
Chinook (King), Wild 10.43 3,100 50
Coho, Wild 5.93 1,260 45
Sockeye, Wild 8.56 1,495 62
Chum, Wild 3.77 840 74
Pink, Wild 3.45 558 52


Source: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference

Management and Sustainability

Although Atlantic salmon are contained in the Atlantic Salmon Fishery Management Plan, they are currently being managed under a federal Recovery Plan in close cooperation with the state of Maine, due to their listing as endangered in 2000. Recovery plans delineate actions that are thought to be necessary to recover and/or protect endangered species. Today, U.S. fishery regulations prohibit commercial and recreational harvest of sea-run Atlantic salmon in state and federal waters. Atlantic salmon aquaculture in the United States must comply with environmental and health standards, and U.S. producers and buyers are involved in improving best practices for aquaculture worldwide.

All management of the Alaska salmon fisheries in federal waters is deferred to the State of Alaska, which is also responsible for managing the commercial, recreational, and subsistence fisheries for salmon in state waters. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game manages salmon in state waters. The salmon populations in Alaskan waters, where most of the U.S. commercial harvest occurs, are all generally considered to be healthy with no overfishing occurring. The salmon fisheries in the federal waters off Washington, Oregon, and California are managed by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) under a different FMP. Each state manages the salmon fishery in their respective state waters. Local populations of some species of salmon native to certain river systems in California, Oregon and Washington are considered threatened and are being actively managed as necessary to preserve habitat and encourage populations to rebuild.

References

National Marine Fisheries Service, 2018. Fisheries of the United States 2017.
NOAA FishWatch
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. Food Supply Estimates for Red Meat, Poultry and Fish.
USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference