A boost in commercial deliveries of pink and coho salmon pushed the Prince William Sound preliminary harvest estimate to 27 million salmon through Tuesday, July 27, up from 20.1 million fish just a week earlier.
The humpy catch alone rose to 23.3 million fish, up from 16.6 million. The chum catch increased from 2.4 million to 2.8 million, the sockeye catch from 1.1 million to 1.2 million, and the coho harvest from 1,000 to 4,000 fish, while the Chinook harvest remained at some 7,000 fish.
Deliveries to date have reached 16,551, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
Statewide preliminary data from ADF&G showed the overall catch rising from 75.3 million to Overall sockeye deliveries increased from 47.4 million to 50.4 million fish, including nearly 40 million Bristol Bay reds. The overall chum harvest rose from 4.7 million to more than 6 million fish, while the coho harvest grew from 358,000 to 147,000 fish and Chinook harvests rose from 144,000 to 158,000 fish from the year-to-date total for 2020, or 2019 for pinks, following a second week in which harvests exceeded both the harvest on this week last year and the five-year average for this week of the calendar, said Dan Lesh, the fisheries economist with McKinley Research Group in Anchorage who compiles weekly in-season commercial salmon harvest reports on behalf of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.
Lesh said the pink salmon harvest over the past two weeks had been especially strong and followed a slow start. The total pink salmon year-to-date harvest now only trails the 2019 reference year by 8% after being down 70% two weeks ago, he said.
Alaska pink salmon harvests usually peak in early to mid-August, but while harvest totals appear to be moderately strong in terms of number of fish, fish have generally been smaller, he said.
In Prince William Sound, where pinks have been especially numerous – p 105% from 2019 – average fish size is down 4% from 2019, according to ADF&G biologists.
Sockeye salmon harvests peaked in the first week of July and have so far exceeded the total season projection by over 5%. In Bristol Bay, the total sockeye salmon run has now surpassed 65.3 million fish, a record-breaking total in the more than 100-year-old fishery. The previous record was 62.3 million fish In 2018. Although the total run, counting harvest plus escapement, was record-breaking, this year’s harvest is expected to be well under the 43 million sockeyes caught in the region in 2019 and the 44.4 million record set in 1995, Lesh said.
In the Alaska Peninsula, the catch reached 13 million fish, including 6.5 million sockeyes, 4.5 million pink and 1.9 million chum salmon, while in Kodiak the harvest rose to 3.1 million fish, with deliveries rising to a total of 1.6 million sockeyes and 1.3 million pink salmon.
For the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim region, the overall catch stool at 263,000 salmon, including 245,000 pink and 3,000 chum caught in Norton Sound, and 15,000 chum delivered in the Kotzebue region. The entire Yukon River remained closed to even subsistence harvests.