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Senator Lisa Murkowski. (Photo Credit: United States Congress)

USDA to purchase USD 20m of Alaska record salmon catch

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014, 04:20 (GMT + 9)

After the record breaking salmon catch in 2013, with pink salmon comprising nearly the 80 per cent, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) agreed to purchase USD 20 million in canned Alaska pink salmon for nationwide distribution among people in need.

The total salmon catch was valued at USD 691.1 million, second only to the 1988 harvest worth USD 724 million.

Senator Lisa Murkowski managed to convince Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to use USD 20 million in existing funds to purchase Alaska canned pink salmon for The Emergency Food Assistance Program, better known as TEFAP.

Murkowski explained her goal was to ensure that food banks and their partners would have greater access to a wide variety of healthy foods.

“Every Alaskan knows that our salmon is brain food and full of protein, so I suggested the Department of Agriculture consider our nutritious and delicious salmon for food banks nationwide experiencing high levels of need," Alaska lawmaker said.

Murkowski added the purchase follows last week USD 126 million acquisition of fruit and vegetables for TEFAP.

Salmon abundance has left traders wondering what to do with all the fish, which is canned or cut as frozen filets. Tyson Fick, communications director for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI), said the industry group would continue encouraging domestic and international food aid programs to use pink salmon. They are also aiming the product to traditional canned salmon markets such as the American Southeast and United Kingdom.

In addition to delicious flavour, wild Alaska pink salmon offers numerous health benefits, as they are an excellent source of protein, omega-3s, calcium, selenium, phosphorous, and potassium, according to Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI).

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