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Season of hope on the Yukon: A fish by any other name

By Rhonda McBride 7:15 AM July 25, 2014

When king salmon numbers went south on the Yukon River, it put an end to what had been a lucrative commercial fishing industry on the lower river.

Fishermen then pinned their hopes on another species of salmon — the chum — which has a mixed reputation in Alaska.

The Yukon Delta Fisheries Development Association, the Community Development Quota group for the region, invested heavily in marketing the chums; rebranding them as arctic keta and touting the salmon’s extraordinary oil content.

But chums, alas, get no respect in Alaska; not with so many other species of salmon to eat, including sockeyes, silvers and kings.

Europeans, though, are developing a taste for chums, which begs the question:  What’s in a name?

Would a chum by any other name taste the same?

In part 5 of KTVA’s series, “Season of hope on the Yukon,” photographer Jacob Curtis and reporter Rhonda McBride look at one of the main buyers of arctic keta on the Yukon — a London-based company called New England Seafood.

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