Alaska Commercial Salmon Harvest Pace Picks Up Speed

After a slow start, the pace of commercial salmon harvests in Alaska is picking up speed, with more than 7.7 million fish delivered in the Westward Region alone. The Alaska Peninsula and the Central Region, including Prince William Sound and Cook Inlet, have a preliminary harvest estimate of 5.4 million fish.

The big surge in Bristol Bay usually comes on the Fourth of July weekend. As of June 29, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game estimated the harvest in Bristol Bay at 3.7 million fish, mostly sockeyes, plus some 35,000 chum and 2,000 Chinook salmon.

Fisheries consultant Dan Lesh, who produces the in-season commercial salmon reports for McKinley Research Group in Anchorage on behalf of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, noted that the total number of salmon harvested through Monday, June 28, is about 82% of last year’s total at this point, up from 67% last week.

Lesh said that compared to five-year averages, harvests have ranged among salmon species from roughly average to-date (sockeye) to the Chinook catch, which is down more than 59%.

The main harvest so far this year has been on the south side of the Alaska Peninsula, with a catch of 6.9 million fish. Also in the Westward Region, deliveries to Kodiak totaled some 552,000 fish, including 471,000 sockeyes.

Bristol Bay had an estimated catch of 3.7 million fish, including 1.8 million sockeyes in the Nushagak District, 1.5 million at Egegik 175,000 in the Naknek-Kvichak and 142,000 in the Ugashik District. Cook Inlet had an estimated harvest of some 123,000 sockeyes.