Big increase in 2023 Alaska salmon catch; huge decrease in value

Salmon harvest was a 43% increase from 2022 and a nearly 45% decrease in value.

by | November 5, 2023

Filed Under Catch Updates | Prices | Salmon

Harvest was 4th highest on record; 7th highest for total poundage

Alaska’s 2023 salmon season produced far more fish than last year  but the pay out to fishermen was bleak.  

A catch of 230.2 million fish was a 43% increase from the 2022 harvest of 160.7 million salmon.

The total dockside value of $399 million, however, was a nearly 45% drop from the more than $720.4 million paid to Alaska fishermen last season. 

That’s according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game report titled “preliminary harvest and value figures for the 2023 Alaska Commercial Salmon Fishery.” It provides catches and prices for every salmon species and Alaska fishing region.

A high point: When compared to Alaska’s salmon fisheries going back to 1985, the 2023 salmon catch of over 230 million fish that weighed in at 920 million pounds was the fourth highest on record for total fish harvests, and the seventh highest for poundage.

A low point: Adjusted for inflation, the 2023 value estimate of $398.6 million is the sixth lowest payout to fishermen since 1975.

“International market conditions significantly impacted pricing of salmon statewide, thus value of the harvest,” ADF&G said.

Fewer fishermen were out on the Alaska salmon grounds again this year. A total of 5,577 permit holders made landings in 2023, a decrease from 6,126 permits fished in 2022.

In terms of the statewide catch:

Sockeye salmon accounted for approximately 45% of the total fishery value topping $181 million, and 23% of the harvest at 51.8 million fish.

 Pink salmon comprised about 29% of the value at $113.7 million, and 66% of the harvest with 152.4 million fish.

Chum salmon accounted for 19% of the value at $74.6 million, and approximately 10% of the harvest at 23.5 million fish.

Coho salmon accounted for about 4% of the value at $14.4 million, and 1% of the harvest at 2.3 million fish.

Chinook salmon harvest was estimated at just under 235,000 fish with a preliminary exvessel value of $14.7 million.

Note that the harvest and value estimates will change as fish tickets are finalized and don’t include post season price adjustments.  

Salmon prices sink statewide, except for Chinook

Here are the average prices per pound paid to Alaska fishermen in 2023 with comparisons to 2022:

2023 sockeyes averaged $.64 vs. $1.25 in 2022
2023 pinks averaged $0/24 vs/ $0/43 in 2022
2023 chums averaged $049 vs/ $1/08 in 2022
2023 coho averaged $1.07 vs. $1.57 in 2022
2023 Chinook averaged $5.89 vs. $5.58 in 2022

2023 Salmon Harvest SummaryPress release from ADF&G

(Juneau) — The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) has published preliminary harvest and value figures for the 2023 Alaska Commercial Salmon Fishery (PDF 921 kB).

A total of 230.2 million salmon were harvested in 2023, a 43% increase from the 2022 total harvest of 160.7 million fish. The 2023 commercial salmon fishery all species harvest was valued at approximately $398.6 million, a significant decrease from 2022’s value of $720.4 million. International market conditions significantly impacted pricing of salmon statewide, thus value of the harvest.

Sockeye salmon accounted for approximately 45% of the total value at $181.1 million and 23% of the harvest at 51.8 million fish. Pink salmon comprised approximately 29% of the value at $113.7 million, and 66% of the harvest with 152.4 million fish. Chum salmon accounted for 19% of the value at $74.6 million and approximately 10% of the harvest at 23.5 million fish. Coho salmon accounted for approximately 4% of the value at $14.4 million and 1% of the harvest at 2.3 million fish. Chinook salmon harvest was estimated to be just under 235,000 fish with an estimated preliminary exvessel value of $14.7 million. A total of 5,577 individual permit holders made commercial salmon landings in 2023, a decrease from 2022 (6,126 permits).

When compared to the long-term time-series (1985–2022), the 2023 all-species commercial salmon harvest of approximately 230.2 million fish and 919.7 million pounds was the fourth highest on record for total fish harvested, and the seventh highest on record for total pounds harvested. Adjusted for inflation (CPI, 2023 prices), the 2023 exvessel value estimate of $398.6 million was the sixth lowest exvessel value reported since 1975.

These are preliminary harvest and value estimates which will change as fish tickets are processed and finalized. Dollar values provided by ADF&G are based on estimated exvessel prices and do not include post-season price adjustments. The final value of the 2023 salmon fishery will be determined in 2024 after seafood buyers and processors report the total value paid to fishermen in 2023.

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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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