Alaska’s Commercial Salmon Harvests Top 190M Fish

Alaska’s 2021 salmon harvest made up ground this past week on the year-to-date 2020 harvest (2019 for pinks) and is now up 13% compared to the 2019/2020 benchmark, says fisheries consultant Dan Lesh.

Pink salmon are up 11% year-to-date compared to the same period in 2019, said Lesh, who produces in-season weekly commercial harvest reports for McKinley Research Group in Anchorage on behalf of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.

The latest in-season commercial harvest estimates from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game put the overall harvest at over 190 million fish, including nearly 127 million pinks, 53.5 million sockeyes, 8.3 million chums, 1.4 million cohos and 197,000 Chinooks.

As of last week, the 2019 and 2021 year-to-date pink harvest were about the same. While this summer’s humpy harvest appears to have peaked the week of Aug. 8, last week’s harvest was just 4% lower at 27,000 fish. Over 98% of the pre-season pink salmon forecast has now been caught.

In the Prince William Sound area alone, the humpy harvest has reached 55.6 million fish, largely in part to completion of the Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corporation’s completion of its cost recovery program, said Heather Scannell, an Alaska Department of Fish and Game seine management biologist at Cordova. To date this is the third largest harvest of Prince William Sound pink salmon (odd year stock) in the past decade, followed by 2013 and 2015 respectively, she said.

Coho salmon harvests statewide, which usually peak in late August, have declined for three consecutive weeks, Lesh said. The coho harvest is currently even with 2020, but down 45% year-to-date from the five-year average at this point in the season.

The Southeast Alaska and Prince William Sound regions have continued to have stand-out harvests in recent weeks. They are up 66% and 43% respectively from year-to-date 2020 (2019 for pinks).

Deliveries to processors in Southeast Alaska have reached an estimated 40.8 million fish, including 35.8 million humpies, 3.3 million chums, 840,000 sockeyes, 740,000 cohos and 165,000 kings. In Prince William Sound harvesters have brought in 58.7 million fish, including 55.6 million pinks, more than 2 million chums, more than 1 million sockeyes, 58,330 cohos and 8,432 kings.

The fisheries in the sounds have slowed and the harvest will likely decrease in effort as seiners now begin to head home, Scannell said.