Alaska Commercial Salmon Harvests Exceeds 101M Fish

Image via Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Commercial harvesters delivered some 101 million salmon to processors through Tuesday, July 26, in the 2022 Alaska fisheries, wrapping up a record harvest season. That includes nearly 59 million fish in the Bristol Bay area alone, led by the Nushagak District with over 22 million fish, the Egegik District exceeding 15 million fish, the Naknek-Kvichak District with over 14 million fish and the Ugashik District with nearly six million fish.

Retail prices for the Bristol Bay fillets were holding at about $12.95 a pound for fillets in most Alaska retail shops, but prices dropped in the last week of July to about $10.99 a pound, while retail demand remained high.

New Sagaya fish counters in Anchorage had fillets of Alaska salmon at $41 a pound with five-pound purchases. Both New Sagaya and Carrs-Safeway supermarkets were also offering headed and gutted sockeyes for $8.99 a pound.

The online Anchorage purveyor FishEx still had Copper River king salmon fillets for $79.95 a pound, $20 less than the previous price, plus Copper River reds on sale for $29.95 a pound, down from $54.95 a pound earlier. Retail shops from Seattle to Anchorage said their sales of Alaska salmon were robust.

For the last few days Bristol Bay fishermen were dealing with increasingly stormy weather. Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologists said that at the height of the season about 1,360 drift gillnetters were delivering millions of salmon to processors, but most of them have now left or are leaving Bristol Bay.

At the height of the season, the catch was being accepted by some 25 processors including direct marketers, but in the last week of July only about four processors were still working in the Bay. ADF&G also noted that earlier concerns of having enough freezer shipping containers were resolved, with Alaska Marine Lines bringing in an additional 80 containers within the last week and no fishermen were put on limits, despite the record harvest.

In Prince William Sound, deliveries of fish caught by the fleet increased to over 35 million fish, including 21.1 million pinks, 2.6 million chums, 1,514 million sockeyes, 14,000 coho, 1,000 Chinooks.

In the state’s western region, commercial harvesters in the Alaska Peninsula have delivered 9.8 million salmon to processors, including 7.7 million sockeyes, and at Kodiak processors have received 2.7 million salmon, including nearly 1.4 million reds.

Salmon runs into the Yukon River remain below the threshold for commercial or subsistence fishing. ADF&G said that the fall chum salmon run on the Yukon River is anticipated to be critically low, based on the summer chum run being the second lowest on record, but that fishing would open to manned fish wheels for non-salmon and pink, sockeye and coho salmon.