PWS salmon harvests jump to 5 M+

Statewide catch tops 26 M fish and growing

Delivery of wild Alaska salmon to processors in Prince William Sound reached upwards of the five million fish mark as of July 2, as the catch from the Copper River drift fishery alone topped one million fish from the Copper River.

For Prince William Sound the overall cumulative preliminary catch data shows 2,889,000 chum, 1,438,000 sockeye, 687,000 pink and 18,000 Chinook salmon.

For the Copper River drift fishery, the cumulative preliminary catch report includes some 968,000 sockeye, 30,000 humpies, 20,000 chum and those 18,000 kings.

All data is from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, which compiles preliminary harvest data daily and reports these figures online at adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=commercialbyfisherysalmon.bluesheet.

Over 1 million chums, plus some 312,000 pink salmon were included in the preliminary catch report, while in the Montague district, the catch included some 920,000 chum, 22,000 pink and 2,000 sockeyes. The Prince William Sound general seine fishery saw delivery of some 441,000 chum, 295,000 humpy and 23,000 sockeyes. In the Coghill district drift fishery, processors saw delivery of some 381,000 chum, 108,000 sockeye and 16,000 pink salmon.

Statewide, according to ADF&G, the commercial catch topped 26 million fish as of July 2.  Deliveries included 12.7 million sockeye, 9.6 million humpies, 3.9 million chum, 93,000 king and 6,000 silver salmon.

In the westward region, deliveries to processers topped 10.7 million fish, including nearly 9 million humpies, 1.2 million red, 566,000 chum, 15,000 Chinooks and 2,000 coho salmon.

The bulk of that catch, 9.6 million fish, came from the South Alaska Peninsula. Kodiak area fishermen brought in some 64,000 salmon, including some 400,000 humpies, 191,000 sockeye, 50,000 chum and 3,000 kings.

Fisheries economist Garrett Evridge of the McDowell Group, who produces weekly commercial salmon fishery reports for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, notes than sockeye and pink salmon are each contributing about 42 percent of the overall statewide harvest.

The sockeye volume is up 5 percent year-to-date from 2018 and 10 percent above the five-year average, Evridge said. This year’s harvest is 67 above 2018’s volume at this point in the season and 30 percent stronger than 2017.

While production is slow in Cook Inlet, fishing has improved in Kodiak, Southeast and the Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian Islands. Chignik has not yet landed any sockeye, although typically several hundred thousand fish have been produced by now. In an average year, more than half of Alaska’s sockeye harvest occurs in Bristol Bay during the first three weeks of July.

Pink production year-to-date is about five times that of 2017, Evridge said. The Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian Islands have dominated early harvests, with strength also seen in Kodiak and Prince William Sound. The state’s pink harvest generally peaks around five weeks from this point in the season.

Year-to-date harvest is about a half million fish lower than 2018. Prince William Sound continued meanwhile to compensate for weakness in nearly every other area of the state. With Prince William Sound landings removed, Alaska’s 2019 keta production is 61 percent lower than 2018, Evridge said.

Chinook landings to date are 21 percent lower than a year ago. Approximately 28 percent of the forecasted total harvest has been realized, but Evridge said production was expected to increase in early July with the opening of the troll fishery in Southeast Alaska.