PWS wild salmon catch grows to 3.1 M fish

Statewide preliminary harvest reaches 22.7 M, including 10.5 M for Bristol Bay

Harvesters boosted the Prince William Sound catch of wild salmon to 3.1 million fish through July 4, with the Copper River drift district deliveries to processors rising to 469,000 fish, including 445,000 red and 13,000 Chinook, plus 11,000 chum.

The Eshamy District added another 397,000 salmon, including 331,000 red, 65,000 chum and about 1,000 humpies.  In the Coghill District, the catch rose to 747,000 fish, including 717,000 chum and 30,000 sockeye.  The PWS general seine harvesters had 902,000 fish, including 757,000 chum, 116,000 pink and 29,000 red, while the PWS hatchery contributed 447,000 chum and 153,000 humpies.

The statewide preliminary harvest total compiled by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game stood at 22.7 million fish, of which 15.2 million were sockeye, plus 4.9 million chum, 2.4 million pink, 130,000 Chinook and 16,000 coho.

Just 2,000 reds have been caught in the Being River drift district and another 1,000 reds in the Unakwik district.

Harvests rose dramatically in Bristol Bay, where processors have now received 10.5 million fish, led by the Nushagak District, where Peter Pan Seafoods had its harvesters on limits and Silver Bay and Ekuk Fisheries had suspended buying on the morning of July 4.

Tim Sands, an area biologist at Dillingham for ADF&G, described the sockeye run as “gangbusters” and veteran commercial harvester Robin Samuelsen said most vessels had “boatloads” of sockeyes.

“We are a long way from done here,” said Sands. Escapement for king salmon was below expectation, below average, but still within the escapement goal range, with the run a little late, but subsistence harvests of kings still strong. There is no directed commercial harvest of kings in the Nushagak district, and as for sockeyes, “I think we are still on the front end,” he said.

The cumulative Nushagak harvest stood at 5.2 million sockeyes, including a record 1.2 million salmon caught just on July 3.  That was the second time this year, and in the history of the Nushagak district that the daily sockeye harvest exceeded one million reds, Sands said.

Amid the strong run of sockeyes, four vessels loaded with fish swamped in bad weather, but good Samaritans rescued all crew members, who escaped uninjured.

One of those vessels reportedly had 14,000 pounds of fish on board, way over its capacity, Sands said.

In the Westward region, harvests reached 7.3 million fish, including 4.4 million red, 2 million humpies, 851,000 chum and 9,000 king salmon.  The Alaska Peninsula harvest rose to 5.7 million fish, including 3.3 million red, 1.7 million pink, 620,000 chum and 6,000 kings. Kodiak processors had received 829,000 fish, including 630,000 red, 129,000 chum, 68,000 pink and 2,000 kings, and Chignik processors received 473,000 red, 176,000 pink, 102,000 chum and 1,000 kings, for a total of 752,000 fish.

Cook Inlet harvesters brought in 270,000 fish, including 253,000 sockeye, 8,000  chum, 6,000 pink and 3,000 kings.  On the lower Yukon, delivers totally 204,000 keta salmon and the Upper Yukon had another 31,000 chum.

Fred Meyer stores in the Anchorage area were offering fresh whole Alaska sockeye salmon for $7.99 a pound and Costco stores had fresh wild Alaska sockeye fillets for $11.99 a pound. Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle had those fillets for $20.99 a pound and whole sockeyes for $64.95 per fish.