PWS harvest nears 19M salmon

Wild stocks of humpies are performing above average, while hatchery harvests lag

A vessel navigates Cordova Harbor. (Aug. 10, 2020) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times

Purse seine and drift gillnet harvests of salmon continue in earnest this week in Prince William Sound, where the overall harvest has jumped from 11.2 million to 20.5 million salmon in a week, including some 17.6 million humpies.    

“The preliminary harvest data was released on Wednesday, Aug. 12 on the Alaska Department of Fish and Game website, https://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=commercialbyfisherysalmon.bluesheet.  The five year even year average for humpies through this date is 29 million fish.  ADF&G’s Charlie Russell in Cordova, etc.ADF&G’s Charlie Russell in Cordova said wild stocks of pinks this year have performed above average and will likely total some 6 million to 7 million fish, while hatcheries are likely this year to get about 50 percent of their forecast.PWS harvests of sockeye salmon rose from 902,000 a week ago to 924,000 on Aug. 12, while overall harvest totals for Chinook chum and coho salmon showed no significant growth.

Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corp., which began its cost recovery sales program on July 24, collected 100 percent of the assigned pink salmon revenue goal by Aug. 9. Sampling of cost recovery pink salmon showed an average weight of 3.4 pounds per fish.

ADF&G set 12-hour openers for purse seine fisheries in the eastern, northern, northwestern, southwestern, southeastern, Coghill and Montague districts for Tuesday, Aug. 11.

Statewide preliminary salmon harvests through Aug. 12 were rising toward 87 million fish, according to the ADF&G preliminary data.

An additional 16 million fish will be added if the 2018 harvest pace is matched through the end of the season.

Nearly 400,000 sockeyes were harvested last week, including about 160,000 from the Kodiak region and at least 120,000 reds from Bristol Bay, notes Garrett Evridge, of the McDowell Group, who produces the weekly in-season salmon report on behalf of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute. Other modest volume trickled in from Southeast, Cook Inlet and the Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian Islands region.

About 36 million pinks have been harvested year-to-date, roughly 12 percent and 16 percent ahead of the same point in the 2018 and 2016 seasons respectively. In both years less than 8.5 million pinks were harvested after statistical week 32, Evridge said.

Kodiak and Prince William Sound contributed about three fourths of the nearly 10 million pinks harvested last week. Pink harvests continue to lag in Southeast, while Cook Inlet fishermen have seen several weeks of relatively strong fishing.

The year-to-date keta harvest totals 4.8 million fish, about 10 million fewer than the five-year average. Production has been slow in the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim and Southeast. Kodiak is down about 20 percent from last year and Prince William Sound is down 36 percent.

Coho landings of 560,000 fish statewide through Aug. 10 were 53 percent below last year’s harvest level, but Kodiak harvesters were up 45 percent from 2019 in their coho landings. Southeast is 41 percent behind last year, prompting ADF&G to initiate an eight-day troll closure in Southeast, which was set to end on Saturday, Aug. 15.

Chinook landings are slower than a year ago, with some 51,000 fish remaining to be harvested this month during a second Southeast troll opener.