Salmon Update: Harvest continues as season nears end

Coho salmon commercial catch appears to be on the upswing

It’s not over until it’s over, and the salmon harvest continues in Prince William Sound, growing by some 18,000 humpies from the four area hatcheries just in the day ended on Sept. 6.

The commercial coho salmon fishery appeared to be on the upswing, with gillnet harvesters out fishing in the Copper River and Bering River districts.

“Right now it is looking like the cohos are doing well and should come in above average,” said Jeremy Botz, gillnet area management biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Cordova.

For the week ending Sept. 3, the actual Copper River Delta coho salmon aerial survey count was 23,080 fish, compared to the anticipated range of 16,147 to 33,807 fish, ADF&G said in a fishery update on Sept. 7. A preliminary harvest estimate from the 24-hour period that began on Sept. 5 was 57,180 coho salmon with 442 deliveries reported.

The Eshamy district has closed for the season, but commercial harvests in the eastern, northern and southeastern districts remained open at least through Sept. 9.

AADF&G also noted that there have been no reported purse seine deliveries in Prince William Sound since Aug. 25 and anticipated that the 2016 purse seine season there would close on Sept. 9.

Preliminary harvest figures posted online daily by ADF&G show that collectively the Valdez Fisheries Development Association’s Solomon Gulch Hatchery in Valdez, plus Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corp.’s Armin F. Koernig, Wally Noerenberg and Cannery Creek hatcheries. have harvested 942,000 chums and 4,059,000 pink salmon through that date.

Two other PWSAC hatcheries, Main Bay and Gulkana, produce sockeye salmon.

The overall salmon harvest to date for Prince William Sound has reached 18,474,000 fish, including 12.8 million humpies, 3.4 million chums, 1.9 million reds, 281,000 cohos, and 12,000 Chinooks.

The Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corp. reported to ADF&G that it had collected 74 percent of its egg take goal at the Wally Noerenberg Hatchery, 64 percent at Armin F. Koernig Hatchery, and 74 percent at the Cannery Creek Hatchery through Sept. 6.

Preliminary statewide harvest totals stood at 106,472,000 salmon on Sept. 7, up by some 42,000 fish over the previous day.  While harvests have ended for sockeyes and kings, the numbers increased for chums, silvers and humpies, so that the overall catch included 405,000 kings, 12.6 million chums, 2.9 million silvers, 36.9 million pinks and 52.7 million sockeyes.

On the Lower Yukon River, with a record salmon harvest of over one million fish, the season was set to end on Sept. 10, but Kwik’pak Fisheries at Emmonak was still receiving those oil-rich fall chum salmon from small boat harvesters.

In Southeast Alaska, harvests continued for chums, silvers and humpies, bringing the total catch to 26,171,000 fish.

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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.