State fisheries biologists are forecasting what would be the largest pink salmon run on record into Prince William Sound, with liberal fishing time and area anticipated if the returns prove as strong as expected.
Meanwhile, in the Copper River district, the first commercial fishing period is expected to begin during the week of May 14, with harvest projections of 889,000 sockeyes, 207,000 cohos and 4,000 Chinook salmon.
The forecast calls for a pink salmon total run of 67.16 million fish, with a commercial harvest of 58.92 million pinks. That would be in marked contrast to 2016, where the run forecast was 40.9 million pinks, but the commercial harvest of 8.65 million pinks was the lowest harvest since 2002 and the second lowest in 20 years, biologists said.
The humpy forecast includes 21.10 million natural stock fish, 18.75 million Valdez Fisheries Development Association fish and 27.40 million Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corp. hatchery fish. About 3.30 million, or 18 percent of the projected 18.75 million pink run to VFDA’s Solomon Gulch Hatchery will be needed for cost recovery and broodstock, leaving 15.48 million pinks for commercial harvest.
In addition, some 3.20 million or 12 percent of the projected 27.40 million humpy run to the PWSAC hatcheries will be needed for cost recovery and broodstock, leaving 24.20 million available for commercial harvest.
Based on ADF&G’s natural stock pink salmon forecast of 21.10 million fish, there is potential commercial harvest of 19.65 million natural pink salmon, biologists said.
Each district’s escapement goal is to be managed for a combined total of 1.45 million pink salmon.
The Prince William Sound purse seine fishery is to begin on June 1, targeting the enhanced chum salmon run to the Armin F. Koernig hatchery and Port Chalmers remote release site.
Also in the purse seine fisheries, the forecast is for a chum run of 3.17 million fish into Prince William Sound, including 2.80 million, or 70 percent, from PWSAC hatchery production, with 456,000 fish returning to the Armin F. Koernig hatchery. Based on ADF&G’s natural chum salmon forecast of 371,000 fish, there is a potential commercial harvest of 17,000 natural chum salmon.
Pink and chum salmon escapement will be evaluated in weekly aerial surveys to determine the frequency and duration of openings, state biologists said.
The general waters of the eight purse seine districts are to be managed based on the strength of natural stocks, ADF&G said.
For Bristol Bay, the commercial salmon season opens by regulation on June 1, with fishing in eastside districts and Togiak to be allowed using a weekly schedule that will vary by district.
The 2017 Bristol Bay sockeye salmon forecast is for some 41.5 million fish, with a total projected harvest of 27.47 million reds. In 2016, Bristol Bay harvesters delivered 37.3 million fish from a total run of 51.4 million, exceeding a forecast of 46.55 million fish.
The average 2016 ex-vessel price of 76 cents a pound put the total sockeye fishery value at $153.2 million, according to the Bristol Bay Fishermen’s Association, (formerly the Alaska Independent Fishermen’s Marketing Association.)
The forecast calls for a run of 10.65 million sockeyes into Egegik and projected harvest of 8.56 million fish, while the Naknek-Kvichak district is anticipated to have a run of 16.07 million fish and harvest of 8.29 million.
For the Nushagak district, the anticipated sockeye run is 8.62 million sockeyes, with a harvest of 6.06 million. The Ugashik district has a forecasted run of 5.46 million reds and harvest of 4.09 million fish, while Togiak’s anticipated run of 0.66 million reds is expected to product a harvest of 0.48 million reds.
Complete run forecasts and harvest projections the 2017 season and a review of the 2016 season are online at