Sockeye Salmon

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Oncorhynchus nerka

ALSO KNOWN AS Red salmon, Blueback salmon, Redfishsockeye

Wild sockeye salmon is one of the most sought-after of the salmon species. Sockeye salmon meat is firm and fatty, making it rich in omega-3 fatty acids. This gives the meat a rich flavour that rivals the flavour of king (Chinook) salmon. Sockeye has the reddest flesh of the wild salmon species. Their raw meat is a bright-red or orange-red colour, which remains red after cooked. Sockeye is low in sodium and a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids, protein, niacin, vitamin B12, and selenium.

In the wild, sockeye salmon have iridescent silver flanks, a white belly, and a metallic green-blue top that gives them their “blueback” name. Some fine black speckling may occur on their backs, but the large spots which are typical of other Pacific salmon are absent.

Sockeye salmon are one of the smaller specifies of Pacific salmon, measuring 1.5 to 2.5 feet in length and weighing 4-15 pounds. Like other Pacific salmon, most sockeye salmon are anadromous – they hatch in freshwater streams and rivers, then after 1-3 years they reach the smolt stage and migrate to the ocean to feed and grow. In North America, sockeyes range from Point Hope in northwestern Alaska to the Klamath River in Oregon.


Sockeye salmon are primarily commercially-harvested by gillnet, but also by purse seine types of gear. Gillnetters catch salmon by setting curtain-like nets perpendicular to migrating sockeyes. The mesh openings on the nets are just large enough to allow males to get stuck, or gilled, in the mesh. Purse seiners catch salmon by encircling them with a long net and drawing the bottom closed to capture the fish. Fishing gear used to harvest salmon does not contact the ocean floor, so it does not impact habitat.

Coldfish sockeyes are available fresh or frozen, dressed head on/head off, and in fillets, steaks, and portions.

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