For the same period a year ago, the harvest included 53.6 million sockeyes, 25 million chums, 5.2 million cohos, and 262,000 kings. The pink salmon catch compared with 39 million caught for the same period in 2016, which was a disaster year for humpies.
“Bristol Bay remains the bright spot in Alaska’s commercial salmon fisheries this summer,” notes Garrett Evridge, an economist with the McDowell Group in Juneau, Alaska, in a weekly summary report for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute. “The Bristol Bay sockeye harvest was one of the best ever,” said Garrett, “but all other sockeye harvests in Alaska are well below the forecast.”
The focus of the industry has shifted to pink salmon, with the current week typically the peak harvest period for humpbacks. “Year-to-date pink harvest volume is comparable to 2016, but very slow by historical standards, particularly in Southeast Alaska,” he said.
With about one month of fishing remaining, year-to-date keta harvests statewide are 42 percent lower than a year ago and 20 percent behind the five-year average, although the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim region continues to exceed its five-year average volume.
Evridge also notes that coho production year-to-date is 51 percent lower than 2017 and Chinook production is 15 percent behind as well.
The availability of wild Alaska sockeye salmon is slimming rapidly, not even mentioned online this week by the Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle, Wash. In Anchorage, they have disappeared from the seafood department at Costco stores and were marked up to $19.95 a pound at Fred Meyer stores, which was $10 over the sale price two weeks earlier. 10th & M Seafoods still had fresh wild sockeye salmon steaks for $7.95 a pound and fresh sockeye salmon fillets for $10.95 a pound, while the online Anchorage purveyor FishEx was offering sockeye fillet portions for $29.95 a pound.