Statewide harvest well above last year’s pace so far
Most of Alaska’s sockeye and chum salmon fisheries are winding down while pinks are in full swing, according to weekly updates by the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game. The harvest to date of over 160.8 million salmon is well above last year at this time due to strong chum and odd-year pink salmon catches.
The statewide sockeye salmon harvest has exceeded the preseason forecast of 48 million fish, nearing 49 million by August 15.
The harvest of just over 15.3 million chum salmon is nearing the projected forecast of 16 million fish and may reach that number “depending on the strength of later-returning stocks and late-season fishery participation,” ADF&G said.
The chum (keta) harvest is up 54% year over year because of the strength of the July harvest, but the pace has been dropping off in recent weeks.
The total Alaska pink salmon harvest has topped 95.4 million fish out of a forecasted 122 million humpies for the 2023 season. Most of the catch has come from Prince William Sound which was approaching 42 million pinks.
At Southeast, the updated pink salmon harvest prediction was dropped slightly to 56 million fish, which is still almost triple the preseason forecast of 19 million pinks. But that mark could come up short.
In a weekly summary, state managers said an abundance of later than normal fish has showed up in northern fishing regions. “With the smaller than average fleet size and processor capacity limitations, a harvest of over 50 million pink salmon is unlikely at this point in the season,” ADF&G said. By August 15, the Southeast pink catch totaled 34.536 million fish.
Early season coho salmon harvests totaling 963,000, with the peak of that fishery yet to arrived. That total so far is up 41% year-over-year, but down 16% from the five-year-average harvest, reported the weekly bulletin by the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute compiled by the McKinley Research Group.
State managers are predicting a total 2023 Alaska commercial salmon catch of nearly 190 million fish, a 16% increase from the 163 million taken in 2022.
The exvessel, or dockside, value of Alaska’s 2022 salmon fishery topped $720 million, compared to about $644 million for the 2021 fishery.