No oversupply of AK sockeye salmon heading into 2024 season

AK total sockeye harvest for 2024 is pegged as one of the lowest in more than a decade.

by | April 25, 2024

Smaller Bristol Bay forecast takes pressure off previously plugged freezers

Alaska fishery managers are predicting a total statewide sockeye salmon catch of 39.5 million fish for 2024.

That’s 12.4 million fewer sockeyes when compared to the 51.9 million red salmon harvested in 2023.

At Bristol Bay, home to the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery, a total run of 39 million reds is projected, 35% smaller than the 10-year average.

A run of that size would allow for a potential harvest of 26.11 million fish; 25.01 million fish in Bristol Bay and 1.10 million fish in the South Peninsula June fishery. The average sockeye salmon weight size is pegged at 5.5 pounds for 2024.

“Given that Bristol Bay is typically responsible for between 70 to 80 percent of the total Alaska sockeye harvest, our prediction is that this year’s total statewide sockeye harvest could land somewhere around 30 million fish – which would also make it one of the lowest sockeye harvest in Alaska in over a decade,” predicted global marketing firm Tradex. “The last time an even-year sockeye harvest was around 30 million fish was in 2012, when the statewide salmon total was 127 million fish.”

As for supply, Tradex said North America has limited leftover sockeye H&G (headed/gutted), with some availability in the 6-9 pound range but almost none in the 2-4 or 4-6 pound sizes.

“And with several Alaskan plants planning to reduce production of 1-time frozen sockeye fillets this year, 1-time frozen IVP (Individually Vacuum Packed) fillets are expected to be scarce and more expensive,” Tradex said.

The Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game this week released its Run Forecasts and Harvest Projections Report for 2024. It projects the total statewide harvest could decline by nearly 42%. The report also includes a summary of the 2023 salmon season for every Alaska region.

The 2024 all species commercial harvest projection of 135.7 million fish is expected to include approximately 169,000 Chinook salmon, 39.5 million sockeye salmon, 2.6 million coho salmon, 69.0 million pink salmon, and 24.3 million chum salmon.

The Alaska all-species salmon harvest for 2023 totaled approximately 232.4 million fish.

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About Laine

Laine Welch has covered the Alaska fish beat for print and radio since 1988. She also has worked “behind the counter” at retail and wholesale seafood companies in Kodiak and on Cape Cod.

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