Alaska Salmon Harvest Passes 160M

Alaska’s commercial harvesters have delivered more than 160 million salmon to processors so far this year. The harvest for the last week alone accounted for nearly 36 million fish, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s preliminary commercial salmon harvest report.

The deliveries include more than 91 million humpies, 54.5 million sockeye, 12.5 million chum, 1.5 million silver and 230,000 Chinook salmon.

Last week’s catch, mostly pink, was the largest weekly harvest of the season, noted Garrett Evridge of the McDowell Group, who compiles weekly salmon harvest reports for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute. The five-year average indicates statewide production of approximately 300,000 fish per week can be expected through early September.

Sockeye harvests are still coming in and fresh Copper River red fillets are on sale at Costco stores in Anchorage, Alaska for $9.95 a pound.

Strong pink salmon harvest in Prince William Sound last week notwithstanding, the current season is 20 percent behind the 2017 statewide pace, 43 percent slower than 2015 and nearly equal to 2011. Evridge noted that about 36 percent of the year-to-date pink harvest came from Prince William Sound. Kodiak contributed 23 percent and the Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian Islands were credited with 20 percent. Kodiak is on track to reach its ADF&G forecast, but Southeast’s year-to-date harvest is the third smallest since 2008 including odd- and even-numbered years.

The keta salmon harvest is 17 percent lower than year-to-date 2018 and 19 percent below the five-year-average. If 2018 harvests are repeated, Southeast may see a late-season improvement in its keta catch, Evridge said. The Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim harvest of keta has been disappointing after a strong 2018 season. Evridge noted that harvest is nearly 50 percent behind last year and 34 percent lower than the five-year average.

Last week’s catch of some 265,000 cohos was the strongest weekly volume of the season, yet year-to-date production is 27 percent behind last year and 42 percent lower than the five-year average. All areas are continuing to deliver modest volumes of silvers, with the Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian Islands and Chignik exceeding 2018 year-to-date total. Still, in the Alaska-Yukon-Kuskokwim region, production is approximately half the five-year average.

Evridge noted that chinook harvests are approaching parity with last year’s catch pace, though currently about 5 percent lower. In 2018, some 32,000 fish were harvested over this two-week period, or 20 percent of the region’s annual yield.