The US took home 39% of the N. Pacific salmon catch in 2023, nearly all of which came from Alaska.

by | July 5, 2024

Hatchery releases continue to soar

Salmon catches throughout the North Pacific in 2023 set an all-time record of nearly 728 million fish, fueled by the highest pink salmon catch ever of 579 million fish. 

The humpies weighed in at more than 693 metric tons (nearly 1.6 billion pounds), or 63% of the total salmon catch of 1.1 million metric tons (2.42 billion pounds), the third highest on record.   

 The annual numbers were recently announced by the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission (NPAFC), as reported by its five member countries: Canada, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Russia and the United States. The 2023 commercial salmon harvest was the seventh year since 2007 with catches over one million metric tons.

The huge pink salmon harvest was followed by chums which increased for the second year in a row to 71.53 million fish (19% of the total harvest), while sockeye catches at nearly 68.5 million (15%) was below the recent 10-year average. Coho salmon comprised just 2% of the catch at 7.5 million fish, while Chinook salmon catches of fewer than one million contributed less than 1% to the overall haul.

Russia took home 55% of the North Pacific salmon catch at nearly  471 million fish. That was followed by the US at 234 million salmon (39%) of which nearly 232.4 million were caught in Alaska’s distant waters. Japan received 5.6% at just over 20 million salmon and less than 1% was taken by both Canada and Korea.  

Hatchery releases continue to soar, led by Alaska

Nearly five billion salmon which got their start in hatcheries have been released each year into the North Pacific from NPAFC member countries since 1993. That was topped last year with a release of 5.4 billion juvenile salmon, the  second highest number on record, just slightly below the 5.5 billion fish released in 2019. The released fish were primarily chum (64.5%) and pinks (25.3%), followed by Chinook (4.5%), sockeyes (3.7%) and coho salmon (1.6%). 

The US led all other countries in 2023 hatchery releases at 40.3% of which 1.9 billion came from Alaska . That was followed by Russia at 30.2%, Japan at 25.2%, Canada at 4.1% and Korea at under 1% of hatchery releases.  

Looking ahead

In 2024, NPAFC said salmon research surveys are planned to take place in the central and northeastern Bering Sea, the western North Pacific and the Sea of Okhotsk. Researchers will examine conditions such as migration timing, abundance, distribution, survival, marine ecology, run size forecasting, stock identification, and salmon growth and body condition at sea.

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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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