Commercial fishing for silver salmon is drawing to a close in Prince William Sound, with the catch hovering around 29 million salmon overall, and expected to wrap up by month’s end.
The bulk of the harvest, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s preliminary harvest report, has been close to 24 million humpies, of which 19.4 million were caught in the Prince William Sound general seine area. That area led overall harvests for the Prince William Sound area with a catch of 20.6 million fish, followed by the Prince William Sound hatchery area, with 3.7 million pink and 456,000 chums, a total of 4.2 million fish.
The overall statewide preliminary harvest estimate, as of Sept. 19, stood at 110.5 million fish, including upwards of 50 million sockeyes, nearly 40 million humpies, 17 million chums, 3.3 million silvers and 223,000 Chinook salmon.
The weekly statewide report to the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, delivered by fisheries analyst Garret Evridge of the McDowell Group, noted that with the salmon season coming to an end the fishing has slowed considerably, with about 500,000 salmon harvested in the past week.
That put the overall humpy harvest of nearly 40 million fish, about 6 percent above 2016 levels, but well below the 2018 forecast of some 70 million pinks.
In the wake of two strong weeks of keta harvests, production slowed and the past week saw an addition of about 120,000 keta salmon, Evridge said. That put year-to-date keta volume at about one third lower than a year ago and 13 percent below the five-year average.
Year-to-date coho harvests of 3.3 million fish are 33 percent lower than last year, with two more weeks of production remaining.
With few king salmon being harvested in recent weeks, year-to-date production is 7 percent lower than 2017, and with last week’s addition of 113,000 reds, the sockeye harvest for 2018 has topped 50 million fish.
In the Anchorage area, fresh silver salmon fillets were still plentiful at Costco stores at $8.99 a pound, and the online seafood marketer FishEx had sockeye salmon fillets at $29.95 a pound.
Fred Meyer stores were awaiting shipment of fresh wild salmon fillets, but meanwhile had on had previously frozen king salmon fillets, at $19.99 a pound.