Slow going toward the 39M harvest forecast

Commercial salmon harvests in Prince William Sound topped the 15.4 million mark through July 31, up by three million fish over the previous week, compared to 20.4 million delivered by the same time a year ago.

All five species of Pacific salmon are running below the catch rate or the same statistics week one year ago.

The pink salmon harvest has reached nearly 11 million fish, compared to 13 million at this time in July of 2016, and this year’s forecast of 32.7 million humpies.

Deliveries of sockeyes have reached 1.3 million fish, compared to a year-to-date harvest in 2017 of 1.4 million, and the keta harvest stood at 3.2 million fish, compared to a catch of 5.4 million chums through the same time last year.

On the bright side, the Copper River district was opened for commercial fishing on July 26, and deliveries from that district have reached an estimated total of nearly 40 thousand sockeyes, 7,160 Chinooks, 6,093 humpies, 3,220 chums and 753 cohos, according to the latest reports from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. It’s the second lowest harvest to date in half a century for those reds.

With the Copper River district closed to commercial harvesters for most of the season, more drift gillnet fishing effort than normal for this time of year has been happening in the Eshamy and Coghill districts. ADF&G reported that the Coghill district chum salmon and Eshamy district sockeye salmon cumulative harvest through July 31 were 1.8 million chum and 960,500 reds respectively. Commercial fishery management decisions for the rest of the Copper River sockeye run will depend on sockeye escapement into the Copper River Delta index systems.

Meanwhile, in the Prince William Sound purse seine fishery, the Valdez Fisheries Development Association, having completed its cost recovery sales program on July 14, has estimated there are approximately 300,000 pink salmon holding within the Hatchery Terminal Harvest Area in the Southwestern District of the sound. VFDA needs some 410,000 pink salmon for brood stock. The Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corp. Has observed small numbers of returning humpies to all hatcheries and anticipates starting pink salmon cost recovery as soon as harvest volumes warrant, ADF&G said in its weekly in-season salmon fishery roundup.

An estimated 1.95 million humpies were harvested in eastern Prince William Sound on July 22, and an estimated 1.2 million pinks were delivered in eastern Prince William Sound on July 26.

State biologists estimated the cumulative Prince William Sound pink salmon harvest in the eastern district through July 26 at 8.1 million commercial common property fish and 1.1 million VFDA cost recovery fish, for a total of 9.2 million salmon.

Statewide deliveries to processors have reached in excess of 73 million fish, up from 65 million fish just a week earlier. The catch includes more than 47 million sockeyes, 14 million humpies, 11. Million chums, 748,000 cohos and 191,000 Chinooks.

Bristol Bay harvesters have delivered in excess of 42 million fish, including over 41 million sockeyes, plus 1.3 million chums, 41,000 kings, 29,000 humpies and 12,000 cohos. Catches in the Nushagak district have been the highest, including nearly 24 million sockeyes.

At Kodiak, deliveries to date totaled 1.5 million fish. That catch includes an estimated 554,000 pinks, 516,000 reds, 407,000 chums, 54,000 cohos and 2,000 kings. The Alaska Peninsula’s catch has reached 4.9 million salmon, including 3 million sockeyes, 972,000 chums, 683,000 humpies, 217,000 silvers and 17,000 kings.

In the Arctic-Yuko-Kuskokwim region, the catch has reached 1.2 million fish, including over one million keta salmon, of which 607,000 fish came from the Yukon River.

Prices this past week ranged from $17.99 a pound for wild Alaska sockeye fillets when available at Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle to $7.95 a pound for sockeye steaks ad $10.95 a pound for sockeye fillets at 10th & M Seafoods in Anchorage.