PWS harvest soars above 9M fish

Retail prices dropping as statewide catch exceeds 16M salmon

A fishing vessel near Cordova Harbor.(May 16, 2021) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times

Commercial harvesters in the Prince William Sound region delivered upwards of 371,340 salmon through Tuesday, June 28, while the statewide preliminary harvest exceeded 16 million fish, including deliveries in Bristol Bay, Cook Inlet, Kodiak and the Alaska Peninsula.

Harvests reached almost 8% above year-to-date 2021 (2020 for pinks), led by strong sockeye harvests in the Alaska Peninsula and Bristol Bay regions, according to Sam Friedman, who is producing the McKinley Research Group weekly in-season reports on behalf of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute. For Prince William Sound, harvests and the weights of salmon harvested remained below the 10-year average, according to Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist Jeremy Botz, in Cordova.

The Prince William Sound deliveries through June 28 included nearly 758,000 reds. Copper River drift gillnetters brought in 420,535 reds, 11,091 Chinooks and 9,140 chums, while Coghill district drift gillnetters had 434,318 chum, 318 Chinooks and 49,513 sockeyes.

Friedman noted that so far over 9 million red salmon have been delivered to processors, which is 26% more than 2021 to date and 14% more than the five-year average.

Most of the sockeye harvest has taken place in the southern Alaska Peninsula area and the Egegik and Nushagak districts of Bristol Bay.

With a steady flow of salmon being harvested commercially, the price of any Copper River Chinooks and sockeyes still available has dropped. Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle was posting $64.98 a pound for Copper River king fillets and $499.99 for the whole fish, plus $29.99 a pound for Copper River sockeye fillets and $99.99 for a whole four-pound fish.

The online seafood vendor FishEx in Anchorage was offering fillets of Copper River kings for $114.95 a pound and fillets of Copper River reds at $59.95 a pound. Also in Anchorage, 10th&M Seafoods was out of Copper River fish, but was selling Prince William Sound sockeye filets for $13.95 a pound.

Bristol Bay commercial harvesters in the Nushagak District showed deliveries of 3.5 million sockeyes, 105,000 chums and 1,000 Chinooks, followed by the Egegik District with over three million sockeyes and over one million sockeyes in the Naknek-Kvichak District, The Ugashik District caught 237,000 sockeyes. There have been no deliveries reported yet for the Togiak District.

In the state’s westward region, fishermen on the south side of the Alaska Peninsula caught over 5 million salmon to date, including over 4 million sockeyes, 1 million humpies, 420,000 chums, and 2,000 kings. On the peninsula’s northside the sockeye catch was some 394,000 fish.

Kodiak harvesters have brought in an estimated 358,000 sockeyes, 74,000 chums, 10,000 humpies, 2,000 Chinooks and 1,000 cohos, for a total of nearly 6 million fish.

Deliveries in Southeast Alaska to date were estimated at 66,000 salmon, including 45,000 kings, 18,000 chums and 3,000 sockeyes.