Alaska Commercial Salmon Harvest at 15 Million and Rising

Alaska’s 2019 wild salmon harvest season, which began in mid-May with the Copper River openers, Is now expanding through the state’s central, southeast and western regions.

Preliminary estimates of the harvest compiled by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game through June 25 put the catch to date at some 15 million fish.

According to fisheries economist Garrett Evridge of the McDowell Group, who produces weekly updates on the commercial salmon season for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, production of all species except Chinook are stronger than 2018 at this point of the season.

Evridge said year-to-date sockeye harvests are 29 percent above 2018 and 12 percent below the five-year average. Prince William Sound continues to outpace its 2018 harvest while Chignik, Cook Inlet and the Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian Islands lag the historical average, he said.

Early indicators for Bristol Bay are favorable against 2018 and in line with the long-term average.

About three million fish are typically harvested in Bristol Bay during this week of the season.

The year-to-date pink salmon harvest of more than seven million fish is likely a record for early season production. Landings in the Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian Islands and Kodiak are roughly seven and three times the year-to-date 2017 volume, respectively, he said.

The keta harvest of some 2.5 million fish is 29 percent above a year ago and 60 percent higher than the five-year average.

The strong harvest in Prince William Sound is offsetting slower fishing elsewhere, with that region contributing 86 percent of the total year-to-date harvest. Keta production in Southeast Alaska and the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim region has been particularly slow though it is still early in the season, Evridge noted.

The Chinook harvest of 42,000 fish, meanwhile, is 14 percent below the 2018 year-to-date pace.

Daily preliminary harvest updates are posted online by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game at