PWS commercial catch tops 3.5M fish

Overall statewide harvest at 28.8 M, humpy harvest down 71 percent from 2016

Zach Swingle throws a Copper River king salmon to get filleted at Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle on Sunday, May 20, 2018. (Photo by Emily Mesner/The Cordova Times)

Commercial harvests in Prince William Sound have reached 3.5 million salmon, even as the surge in the catch in late June slowed somewhat in early July.

Through June 10 fishermen delivered to processors an estimated 2,450,601 chums, 1,022,779 sockeyes, 18,461 pinks, 7,829 Chinooks and 459 silvers.

Drift gillnetters in the Coghill district alone have brought in over 1.8 million fish, including an estimated 1.7 million chums, 155,704 reds, 1,959 humpies, 386 kings and 94 silvers.

Purse seiners in the Montague district had 365,983 chums, 12,269 humpies, 4,019 sockeyes, 182 cohos and 144 Chinooks, while purse seiners in the Prince William Sound Southwestern district delivered an estimated 292,616 chums, 29,674 reds, 869 humpies,65 silvers and 43 kings.

Statewide harvest updates provided by the McDowell Group in Juneau for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute show that through June 10 nearly 28 million salmon have been delivered to processors.

That includes some 20.7 million sockeyes, 5.8 million chums, 1.1 million humpies, 109,000 Chinooks and 34,000 cohos.

The total statewide sockeye harvest if 31 percent below the 2017 year-to-date level, mainly due to weak returns in Prince William Sound, Chignik and Kodiak, but similar to the five-year average. Keta returns statewide are about a quarter lower than in 2017, including particularly slow production in Southeast fisheries. The McDowell Group report forecasts that while the year-to-date humpy harvest is slow that production is expected to increase as prince William Sound and Southeast harvests begin.

About 100,000 kings have been harvested so far this year, compared to some 180,000 for the same period a year ago. Mainly due to slow humpy and chum production the overall year-to-date overall harvest is about one third lower than 2017 and about 40 percent below the adjusted five-year average, the report said.

Bristol Bay drift gillnetters caught an estimated 18.9 million sockeyes through July 10, plus some 985,000 chums and 38,000 kings. The forecast for the season is a catch of 37.6 million sockeyes, down slightly from 38.8 million reds in 2017.

Kodiak sockeye catch stood at 276,000 sockeyes, 224,000 chums, 31,000 humpies, 5,000 silvers and about 1,000 kings. For the Alaska Peninsula the catch has reached an estimated 2.4 million fish, including 1.4 million sockeyes, 634,000 chums, 362,000 humpies, 14,000 cohos and 8,000 kings.

On the Lower Yukon, small boat fishermen have delivered 294,000 keta salmon and 27,000 humpies, and in Norton Sound the catch has reached 83,000 chums and some 12,000 pinks.

Consumers with a yen for fresh wild sockeye salmon are finding whole Alaskan sockeyes for sale at Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle priced at $54.99 per fish, or fish wild Alaska sockeye salmon fillets for $17.99 a pound.

The online purveyor of seafood in Anchorage, FishEx, was still posting extremely limited quantities of Copper River sockeye salmon portions for $46,95 a pound, while purveyor 10th & M Seafoods offered online fresh wild sockeye salmon steaks at $7.95 a pound, and fresh wild king salmon fillets for $23.95 a pound.