Humpy surge boosts Prince William Sound harvest to 54.3M

Pink salmon harvests way up for PWS, Southeast Alaska

Cordova Harbor. (Aug. 24, 2021) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times

Pink salmon harvests year-to-date are up by 40-41% in Prince William Sound and Southeast Alaska compared to 2019, a welcome boon for both seiners and bears in those regions.

For Prince William Sound alone the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s preliminary harvest report as of Wednesday, Aug. 18, stood at 50.4 million humpies, up from 31.9 million humpies just a week earlier, when the overall PWS commercial harvest totaled 39.8 million fish.

Deliveries to PWS processors also reached a cumulative total of 2.6 million chums, 1.3 million sockeyes, 39,000 cohos and 7,000 Chinook salmon.

Fisheries biologists in the ADF&G Cordova office announced on Aug. 18 that the Copper River District would remain closed for the remainder of the week but would open at 7 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 23 for a 24-hour commercial drift gillnet period.  The Copper River district has switched to coho salmon management and the standard management strategy for coho salmon is one or two 24-hour periods each week, dependent on escapement and harvest levels. Fisheries managers Jeremy Botz and Heather Scannell said the current coho harvest levels are low for the date and only support a single fishing period each week.

In the PWS seine fisheries the egg take underway at the Valdez Fisheries Development Association was 38% complete as of Aug. 17. The Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corp. reported good run entry at Wally Noerenberg Hatchery and minimal run entry at the Armin F. Koernig and Cannery Creek hatcheries.  Future fishing opportunities targeting PWSAC enhanced pink salmon would be contingent on run entry and broodstock acquisition, biologists said.

For the first time this year, last week’s keta salmon harvests exceeded the five-year average

said fisheries consultant Dan Lesh, who compiles weekly in-season commercial salmon harvest reports for McKinley Research Group on behalf of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute. The cumulative keta catch is up by 25% from a year ago, but still only half (-48%) of the 5-year average, he said. The keta salmon harvest was especially strong last week in the Alaska Peninsula area, where the harvest s up 77% from last year.

As of Aug. 18, the Alaska Peninsula had a cumulative harvest of over 17 million fish, including 8.7 million pink salmon.

Harvest totals for the Chignik area are not disclosable due to limited participation. The late sockeye salmon run in the Chignik area meanwhile is exceeding expectations, but few boats have remained in the area, according to ADF&G.

Preliminary statewide harvest figures compiled by ADF&G show cumulative harvest of 162.5 million fish, including 100.6 million pinks, 53 million sockeyes, 7.6 million chums, 1.1 million cohos and 178,000 Chinook salmon.

A dismal lack of fish to date has left the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim with a total harvest of 337,000 fish, including some 261,000 pink and 72,000 keta salmon, plus some 4,000 cohos, mostly from the Norton Sound region.

Bristol Bay processors received 40.6 million fish, the vast majority of them sockeyes.

Kodiak area fishermen meanwhile have delivered to processors 16.3 million fish, including 13.2 million humpies, 2.6 million sockeyes, 360,000 chums, 82,000 cohos and 7,000 kings.