Salmon harvests down 15 million fish

ADF&G releases season summaries for Alaska Peninsula/Aleutian Islands, Kodiak

New reviews of Alaska’s 2016 commercial salmon season confirm that it was a rough year for the industry, with the overall harvest of 112.6 million fish having an estimated value of $406.4 million.

A year ago the combined harvest of all five species of Pacific salmon in Alaska waters came in at 263.5 million fish worth an estimated $414.2 million.

Humpies were the real culprit, even in an even year, coming in way below forecast, so that the overall statewide catch of 39.4 million pinks was worth an estimated $37.8 million, compared with 190.5 million pinks worth $132 million a year ago.

In overviews released in early November, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game confirmed that preliminary ex-vessel value of salmon harvested in Area M totaled $27,730,204 for a commercial harvest of 9.6 million fish, including 15,345 Chinook, 5,981,217 sockeye, 260,922 coho, 2,883,577 pink and 513,338 chum salmon.

The exvessel value information was generated from fish tickets and does not include postseason adjustments paid to fishermen.

In the South Peninsula Post-June fishery, the results of test fishing prompted a closure for the seine fleet to fishing in the Shumagin Islands of the Southeastern District during the 33-hour fishing period scheduled to occur on July 6.  From July 6 through July 31, there was one 33-hour fishing period, followed by a 63-hour closure, followed by six 36-hour fishing periods, separated by 60-hour closures.

In August, the post-June fishery is managed based on abundance of local pink and chum salmon stocks.

In September and October, management focuses on coho salmon returns, though the status of late pink and chum salmon returns may be taken into consideration.

Low numbers of humpies returning to local streams results in no commercial fishing in the South Peninsula in August, and below average coho harvests in September limited commercial fishing openings until processor interest was withdrawn.

The report noted that in the North Alaska Peninsula the 157 Area M participating permit holders was far below the historic numbers observed in the 1990s.

A year ago the harvest of 23.9 million wild salmon in the Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian Islands had an estimated value of $30 million, based on a preliminary harvest estimate of 54,000 kings, 5.9 million sockeyes, 323,000 silvers, 16.7 million humpies and 868,000 chum salmon.

For Kodiak, the commercial fishing effort in 2016 also decreased compared to recent years, state biologists noted.

The estimated ex-vessel value of the 2016 fishery for the Kodiak management area was approximately $14.5 million, the fourth lowest value since 1975, and well below the previous 10-year average exvessel value of $36.2 million.

That value was based on a harvest of 5.926,918 salmon, including 7,478 kings, 2,06 million sockeye, 206,540 coho, 3.3 million humpies and 403,879 chum salmon, which fell well below the 2016 forecast and previous 10-year average of approximately 24,068,105 fish.

The Kodiak management area sockeye harvest of 2,063,472 fish was slightly below the recent 10-year average of 2.2 million fish, but well below the forecast of 3.4 million fish.

Purse seine fishermen accounted for the majority of the total harvest in number of fish and their earnings averaged $66,243 per fished permit, the report said.

Set gillnet earnings averaged $25,972 per permit fished, and beach seine earnings averaged $7,111 per permit fished.

A year ago the total Kodiak management area commercial salmon harvest of 34.4 million fish was worth $34.4 million, with average exvessel values of $163,566 for the purse seiners and $29,953 for gillnetters. No average value to beach seiners was available for that period.