Humpy harvest in PWS jumps to 29M

Statewide salmon harvest climbs to nearly 135 M

Pink salmon are prolific in front of Orca Adventure Lodge, where they’re schooling up, and jumping like mad near the beach. These photos taken on the evening of July 30 show frisky pink salmon already changing colors as they return to home waters to spawn. Photo by Cinthia Gibbens-Stimson/The Cordova Times

Pink salmon harvests are now coming on strong, up from 19.7 million humpies through Aug. 2 to in excess of 29 million through Aug. 8, bringing the total commercial salmon harvest in Prince William Sound to 35 million fish.

The Prince William Sound pink salmon fishing is strong; greater than 1.7 million fish per 14 hour period on every other day schedule this week,” said Bert Lewis, speaking from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game office in Anchorage.

Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corp. cost recovery is making good progress, and strong wild stock escapement and harvest and hatchery run entry is steadily increasing he said.

The parent year for this year’s pink salmon run was an all-time record in 2015 of a total pink run of over 100 million fish, with a harvest of 97 million, he said.

If wild stocks come in on forecast, which is 20 million, that would be the second largest natural run on record, he said.

The hatchery run at Valdez was wrapping up at about 13 million fish, and their forecast was a catch of 18 million, so that harvest is about 25 percent below forecast., but for PWSAC it is still early in its run timing.  The salmon appear to be late and it is too soon to tell if the run is on forecast, Lewis said. The fishery will run for another three weeks, but the season will start winding down in two, he said.

Statewide, the commercial harvest has delivered to processors some 135 million salmon, including 63.7 million pink, 50,446,000 sockeye, 18.5 million chum, 1.9 million silver and 238,000 Chinooks.

In Southeast Alaska , Sitka was in full swing, with 5.5 million humpies taken at the last opener.

“We have had some weakness in the southern areas, Ketchikan, Petersburg and, of course, Juneau,” said Eric Coonradt, a state management biologist at Sitka.

Small boat fishermen on the Lower Yukon River have brought in 577,000 keta chum salmon, while on the Upper Yukon, the catch was some 162,000 chum.  Small boat fishermen in the Kotzebue area have caught some 305,000 chums too.

In Cook Inlet, 3.2 million salmon have been delivered to processors, including 1.9 sockeyes, 768,000 pink, 190,000 silver, 365,000 chum, and 8,000 kings for the whole region.

Bristol Bay, now relatively quiet, has delivered 39 million salmon, including 37.6 million sockeye, 1.3 million chum, 44,000 coho, 39,000 million Chinook and 33,000 pinks salmon.

The westward region, including the Alaska Peninsula, Chignik and Kodiak, has brought in 32.5 million, including 19 million pink, 3.6 million chum, over 9 million sockeye, 371,000 silvers, and 16 million king salmon.  In the Alaska Peninsula, the salmon harvest has grown to more than 17 million fish,  including 6,668,000 red, 1.6 million chum,1.6 million chum, 256,000 silver, and 9,000 Chinook.