From responsibly managed watersheds and salmon runs, wild-caught keta salmon is a sustainable and healthy seafood choice. Some keta salmon runs are protected and prohibited from harvesting. According to NOAA Fisheries, keta (chum) salmon was once among the most numerous salmon species and is still the most widely distributed. With the huge range of this salmon, there is no single harvesting season. Even in Alaska, depending on the area, you can catch chum as soon as early June as late as the end of October.
The second largest salmon species next to the king salmon, the average keta weighs about 8-18 pounds with an average length of 24 in. They can grow as large as 35 pounds and 3.5 feet. Their flesh is a light orange to pink flesh has relatively low-fat content despite the larger size of the species.
The appearance of mature, ocean-dwelling keta salmon is similar to other salmon with dark greenish or blueish streak along the back and light-colored belly. When returning to freshwater, they develop red and black tiger stripes, and the males grow fangs. Juveniles migrate to the ocean very quickly after spawning and typically mature within 3-5 years. They eat zooplankton, insects, and some jellyfish. Mature chum eat smaller fish. You can find more information about their natural history and lifecycle from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Wild-Caught Keta Salmon Harvests
Almost 29 million wild-caught keta salmon were forecasted to be harvested in 2019. Once considered hardly worth catching, chum salmon is now the second largest salmon species harvest by weight. (Pink salmon is number one.) With the uncertainty in how much environmentally sustainable and personally healthy the world can produce, it’s good to know that the actual and projected chum salmon harvests have been on a considerable rally over the years. Ideally, as more salmon-friendly habitats are reclaimed and more watersheds are protected, wild-caught keta salmon population and harvests will only continue to grow. The increased supply can be used to supplant other sources of protein that decline in future years or to better serve the surge in pet ownership. It’s also a great way to introduce new people to the delights of wild salmon and as an affordable alternative to farm-raised salmon.
Keta Salmon Health and Nutrition
Despite being relatively low in its omega-3 fatty acid, keta salmon does offer a good amount of protein compared to other species. In a 6-ounce serving for example, keta has less than half the amount of fat compared to sockeye (6.4 grams vs. 14.6 grams) but 95 percent of the protein (34.3 grams vs 36.2 grams). So, if you’re specifically looking for the benefits of omega-3 fish oil, there are better varieties of salmon. But as a lean source of protein and as a type of seafood that’s safe to eat on a daily basis, keta salmon is an excellent choice.