Alaska’s Commercial Salmon Harvest Tops 148M Fish

Alaska Department of Fish and Game
Image via Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Alaska’s commercial salmon harvests continue to rise for all five species, with all but the coho fishery having peaked.

As of Tuesday, Aug. 23, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game documented the preliminary harvest on its online Blue Sheet at nearly 149 million fish, including nearly 74 million sockeyes, 62.5 million pinks, over 11 million chum, 815,000 cohos and 255,000 Chinook salmon.

In a single day, the preliminary numbers indicated the catch of more than another 100,000 sockeye, more than two million humpies, nearly 300,000 chums, 58,000 silvers and 6,000 kings.

For statistical week 34, following a string of three unseasonably slow harvest weeks, the state’s salmon harvests rose up nearly 18% year-to-date from 2021, according to research analyst Sam Friedman, who compiles the in-season commercial salmon report for McKinley Research Group in Anchorage, on behalf of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Association.

Friedman notes that pink salmon harvest numbers are up 9% from year-to date 2020. Humpy harvests were particularly strong last week in the Alaska Peninsula, where the harvest of 5.6 million pink salmon this year is up 18% from 2020.

Pink salmon harvests of 13.9 million fish in Southeast Alaska are nearly double the pink salmon catch-to-date in 2020, but still low by historical standards. Pink salmon harvests are compared to 2020 rather than 2021 because of the species’ distinct two-year lifecycle.

Most of Alaska’s salmon harvests this year were sockeyes caught earlier in the summer. While still winding down, the sockeye harvest is up 31% from 2021, data show.

The sockeye harvest overall is nearly 100% of the ADF&G forecast for the season. The coho season is typically later in the summer and Friedman noted it is later than usual this year. While the coho harvest is down 53% from 2021, there is still time for more coho to arrive, including the approximate 58,000 fish counted in the latest one day catch.

The central region commercial fisheries to date have caught some 93 million salmon, compared with upward of 30 million in the westward region and 21.5 million in the Southeast region. In the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim region, where no fishing was allowed in the Yukon or Kuskokwim rivers this year, only some 531,000 salmon have been harvested, in the Norton Sound region.

Retail demand for sockeyes remains strong, with prices in the Anchorage area averaging $10.99 a pound for sockeye fillets, and as high as $29.95 a pound for fillets from one online retailer.

Whole coho salmon meanwhile were priced at $84.99 at Pike Place Fish Market last week, where fishmongers said they were in high demand.