Rising harvests put PWS catch at 26 million fish

Deliveries of pink, chum and silver salmon boost week’s deliveries by 2M

Pink, chum and silver salmon deliveries to processors in Prince William Sound climbed over the last week, bringing the area’s overall commercial harvest through Aug. 21 to some 26 million fish, while the statewide harvest of wild salmon reached the 100 million mark.

Last week’s harvest of 4.6 million humpies meanwhile pushed the year to date statewide total to 35 million fish, nearly equal to 2016 and about half of the typical even-year harvest.

While Prince William Sound and Kodiak are now above the 2016 harvest pace for pinks, Southeast Alaska is well below that mark, Garrett Evridge, fisheries economist for the McDowell Group, noted in his weekly salmon harvest update for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.

At 100 million fish, the year to date salmon harvest is 2 percent above 2016 and 38 percent lower than in 2017, Evridge said. Keta production is about 40 percent below 2017 and 16 percent lower than the five-year average. About 1.8 million coho salmon have been harvested so far this year, which is 43 percent below 2017’s year-to-date harvest of 3.1 million fish. The year to date Chinook harvest stands at 12 percent lower than in 2017, a slight improvement from previous weeks. Sockeye fisheries meanwhile continue at a low end of season pace, with the harvest averaging a few hundred thousand fish per week, Evridge noted in his report.

Prince William Sound’s year to date catch of 21 million pink salmon compared to the 2016 harvest of 13 million and a 2018 forecast of 32.7 million. The chum year to date harvest of 3.4 million fish compared to the 2017 harvest of 5.4 million and a 2018 forecast of 4 million, and the silver salmon year to date harvest of 100,000 cohos compared to last year’s harvest of 559,000 and this year’s forecast of 408,000 fish.

Year to date sockeye harvests for Prince William Sound through Aug. 21 were 1.3 million fish, compared to last year’s harvest of 1.4 million and this year’s forecast of 1.8 million, while the Chinook year-to-date catch of 7,000 fish compared with the 2017 harvest of 15,000 and this year’s forecast of 14,000 kings.

The largest total harvest of pink salmon to date this year in Prince William Sound has been in excess of 10 million humpies captured in purse seiners in the eastern district of the sound. Another 3.8 million humpies have been harvested by purse seiners in the southwestern sound and 2.5 million humpies were netted by purse seiners in the northern sound.

Coghill district drift gillnetters led in the chum fishery with a harvest to date of more than 1.8 million chums, while Copper River drift gillnetters have caught the most silvers, nearly 44,000. Drift gillnetters in the Eschamy Main Bay district have delivered nearly 970,000 sockeyes, with the second highest catch of reds, 187,000 fish, taken by drift gillnetters in the Coghill district.  Copper River drift gillnetters also have led with Chinook salmon harvests, bringing in over 7,000 kings to date.