Prince William Sound catch jumps to 35.7M fish

Fishing vessels near Cordova Harbor. (May 16, 2021) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times

Commercial harvests in Prince William Sound have reached over 35.7 million fish, including nearly 32 million pink salmon, up by over 5 million fish from a week earlier, according to the state’s latest preliminary commercial harvest reports.

As of Wednesday, Aug. 4, that report showed harvesters delivering to processors in Prince William Sound 31.9 million pink salmon, 2.5 million chums, 1.3 million sockeye, 11,000 cohos and 7,000 Chinooks.

The biggest overall contributor to the harvest to date is the Prince William Sound general seine fishery, which has caught over 30 million fish, including 29.5 humpies, and 663,000 chum salmon, plus 92,000 sockeyes and 9,000 cohos.

The Coghill District drift fleet has delivered 1.7 million fish, including 1.1 million chums, 366,000 pink and 183,000 sockeye salmon.

Statewide by Aug. 4, commercial processors had received over 106 million fish, including 51.4 sockeyes, 48.1 pinks, 5.8 million chum, 562,000 cohos and 166,000 Chinooks.

Complete updates of all Alaska commercial fishery preliminary harvest reports are published daily at cdv.tiny.us/bluesheet.

Pink salmon statewide had an early surge, which is hopefully a good sign for this summer, said Dan Lesh, who compiles the weekly in-season commercial salmon harvest report for McKinley Capital Management on behalf of the Alaska Seafood Marketing institute.

Lesh noted smaller sizes of the pink salmon this year, down about 5%-10%, and a drop in the size of sockeye salmon as well. Diminished sizes remain an issue for both, he said.

This is still a big year for sockeyes, and while markets remain strong, the size of the fish will be a bit of a factor in marketing, he said.

Statewide chums runs came in well below the forecast, and it looks like that run will end up above the 2020 run, but 2020 was an unusually bad, he said. About half of the five-year average year-to-date of chum is down about 55% and neither wild nor hatchery stocks were doing well, he said.

Chinook harvests are about 36% off of the five-year average to date, and the jury is still out of the coho harvest, as the peak for that harvest is still a month or so away, he said.