Salmon Update: Humpy harvests in PWS surge to near 12M

Statewide commercial wild salmon harvests top 97M fish

Costco stores in Anchorage in late July had fresh Copper River sockeyes for $5.99 a pound Photo by Margaret Bauman

Pink salmon harvests in Prince William Sound leaped to 12 million fish through July 30, boosting the Sound’s overall harvest to over 19 million fish.

Total deliveries to processors in Cordova also included some 4.7 million chums, 2.4 million sockeyes, 16,000 kings and 4,000 silvers.

The biggest catch so far this year in the Sound has been nearly 11 million salmon in the Prince William Sound general seine district, including some 10 million pink salmon, 758,000 chums and 149,000 red salmon.

The statewide salmon catch swelled to 97,236,000 fish, including nearly 52 million sockeyes, 35 million humpies, 9.6 million chums, 620,000 silvers and 207,000 kings. 

The preliminary statewide salmon harvest report is updated daily in-season by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Between 50 percent and 60 percent of the annual harvest occurs from this point on in the season in an odd-numbered year, with most of the volume coming from pink salmon harvests, which have slowed in the last two weeks, says Garrett Evridge, who compiled the McDowell Group’s weekend salmon harvest report on behalf of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.

Most of the volume will come from pink salmon harvests, which have slowed over the last two weeks.

Keta, coho, and Chinook harvests are also slow, in contrast to strong sockeye landings in Bristol Bay and elsewhere in Alaska. Southeast Alaska harvests are about 14 percent behind those of 2018 and less than half of the long-term average. Sockeye harvest for Southeast Alaska typically peaks the second week of August.

This week and the next two after that are usually the peak of the humpy harvest, Evridge said, with landings over this period capable of exceeding 20 million fish a week.  Kodiak and the Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian Islands are having strong seasons, while Prince William Sound and Southeast Alaska are lagging.

The Keta salmon harvest so far is about a quarter lower than 2018 and the long-term average.

Evridge also noted that fishing has been particularly challenging in the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim region and Southeast which are 58 percent and 70 percent behind the 2018 pace respectively.

Coho landings have been 37 percent behind 2018 and half of the five-year average.

Retail prices for sockeyes are dropping.

Costco stores in Anchorage were offering fresh Copper River sockeye fillets for $9.99 and fresh headed and gutted Copper River sockeyes for $5.99 a pound, and Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle still had quarter pounder Copper River salmon burgers for $4.99 per burger.

New Sagaya’s fish market in Anchorage was offering fresh Alaska sockeye fillets in five-pound packages for $169.95.

Pike Place also had whole fresh sockeyes for $47.96 per fish, and fresh sockeye fillets for $21.99 a pound.