PWS silver salmon harvest reaches 475,000

Commercial harvest of silver salmon in Prince William Sound have reached 475,000 fish, edging close to the 2016 catch of 484,000 cohos, but still below this year’s forecast of 646,000 fish.

The Copper River district has the bulk of that catch, some 258,000 cohos, followed by Bering River with 95,000, the Prince William Sound general seine district with 88,000, Prince William Sound hatchery with 16,000, Coghill District with 14,000 and Eshamy District with 4,000 silvers.

The year to date commercial salmon catch for Prince William Sound through Sept. 18 also includes 48.7 million pink, 5.4 million chum, 1.4 million sockeye and 13,000 Chinook, for a total of nearly 56 million fish.

The humpy harvest compares with forecast of 55.9 million and 2015 catch of 97.3 million pinks. The chum harvest of 5.4 million exceeds the forecast of 2.8 million and 2015 harvest of 3.1 million chum.

Sockeye harvests came in well below the 2017 forecast of 2.2 million and 2016 harvest of nearly 2 million reds. King salmon catches came in well above the forecast of 4,000 and 2016 harvest of 13,000 fish.

By district along, the Prince William Sound salmon catch to date includes PWS general seine, 45.1 million; PWS hatchery, 5.8 million; Coghill, 3 million; Eshamy, 1 million; Copper River, 921,000, Bering River, 98,000, and Unakwik, 1,000 fish.

Statewide, the commercial salmon catch has reached 216.5 million fish.

That includes 136 million pink salmon, edging toward the forecast of 142 million, but below the 2015 harvest of 190.6 million a year ago, and 52 million sockeyes, far exceeding the forecast of 40.9 million and nearly reaching the 2016 harvest of 53 million reds.

The statewide chum catch of 23.5 million far exceeded the forecast of 16.7 million and last year’s harvest of 16 million chum.

King salmon harvests to date of 246,000 fish compared with a forecast of 299,000 and last year’s harvest of 434,000 Chinooks.

With the summer salmon season in its final weeks, fishermen still brought in another 2.4 million fish last week, the McDowell Group noted in its report for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute. Most of the latest harvest is coho and late running keta, and late sockeye runs are still producing in Southeast Alaska.

The total inshore run proved to be the second largest in 20 years and the preliminary value of $214 million is nearly double the 20-year average.

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Margaret Bauman is a veteran Alaska journalist focused on covering fisheries and environmental issues. Bauman has been writing for The Cordova Times since 2010. You can reach her at mbauman@thecordovatimes.com.