Pink salmon were the major contributor over the past week to the overall rise in the catch of wild Alaska salmon in Prince William Sound, as harvesters prepared to move into the larger harvest of humpies and coho salmon in August.
The commercial harvest in Prince William Sound totaled over 13 million fish, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game calculated in its 2016 preliminary commercial salmon harvest through July 31. The catch included 7.9 million humpies, 3.4 million chums, 1.9 million sockeyes, 12,000 kings and 2,000 silvers. The harvest of pink salmon alone was up by 1.1 million fish, the ADF&G report showed.
While the overall gillnet fishery has been a little below expectations, the harvest was getting closer to the forecast, so it’s not a bad year overall, and closer to average, said Jeremy Botz, gillnet area management biologist for Prince William Sound, who is with the ADF&G Cordova office. While returns have been very strong in recent years, this is more of an average year, he said.
The Copper River drift fleet boosted its catch by over 9,000 sockeyes, while the Eshamy district increased its catch by some 15,000 reds, 7,000 humpies and about 1,000 chums.
The Prince William Sound hatchery saw returned boosted by 150,000 fish and the Prince William Sound general seine fishery raised its total by 56,000 fish.
On a statewide level, the wild salmon harvest has reached nearly 80 million fish, including 50.1 million sockeyes, 18.2 million humpies, 9.8 million chums, 1.1 million silvers and 317,000 Chinooks. That compared with 49 million reds, 14.9 million humpies, 8.9 million chums, 957,000 cohos and 313,000 kings a week earlier.
Bristol Bay harvests climbed to upwards of 38 million fish, including 37.3 million reds, up from 36.7 million reds just days earlier.
On the Lower Yukon, now into its fall chum run, the harvest on July 31 stood at 611,000 chums and 127,000 pinks, for a total of 738,000 fish delivered from the small boat fishery.
In Southeast Alaska, the catch was up for humpies, chums and red salmon, in a total catch exceeding 11.3 million fish, up from 8.8 million fish.
The catch also rose from 8.6 million to 9 million salmon on the Alaska Peninsula, from 1.2 million to 1.3 million at Chignik, and from 2.5 million to 2.7 million salmon at Kodiak.
Retail prices for salmon were predictably simmering down as the harvest rose, with good deals to be had for the dinner table for those who do their fishing at the seafood counters.
Online at Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle, whole fresh Copper River sockeyes were $43.96 apiece, fresh Copper River sockeye fillets $20.99 a pound, fresh whole wild Alaska king salmon $20.99 a pound and fresh wild Alaska king salmon fillets $35.99 a pound. Pike Place also had four-packs of wild pink salmon burgers for $9.99.
Online offers 10th & M Seafoods in Anchorage included fresh wild sockeye fillets for $8.85, fresh wild king salon fillets for $16.95 a pound, fresh wild sockeye steaks for $7.95 a pound and fresh wild king salon steaks for $13.95 a pound.
The online Anchorage retailer FishEx had Copper River king salon fillets for $35.21 a pound, premium portion Copper River king salmon fillets for $62.95 a pound, premium portion fresh Copper River sockeye fillets for $46.95 a pound, and fresh Copper River sockeye fillets for $36.95 a pound, plus Copper River king salon fillets for $46.95 a pound.