Alaska’s Commercial Wild Salmon Harvest Hits 11M and Rising

A sockeye salmon. File photo.

Demand for fresh wild Alaska sockeye salmon remains strong, yet harvesters are wary of what the payout will be, given the amount of the 2022 fish still unsold.

Some grocery chains, including Carrs-Safeway and Fred Meyer, a Kroger supermarket in Anchorage, were offering customers the option of refreshed 2022 sockeye fillets this past week, when they ran low on fresh red salmon, but prices varied widely, with some stores selling 2022 sockeye fillets for as much as $17.99 a pound, compared to $15.99 a pound for the fresh reds that were sold out.

Customers with store membership cards received a discount of several dollars. Meanwhile, wild salmon bound for their natal streams kept on coming.

The preliminary statewide commercial salmon harvest, estimated by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, was upward of 11 million fish as of Monday, July 3. That included over eight million sockeyes, nearly three million chums, 312,000 pink, 45,000 Chinooks and 6,000 coho salmon.

Drift gillnetters and setnetters in Bristol Bay’s Egegik District, had brought in over 3.6 million sockeyes, while in the Naknek-Kvichak District harvesters had delivered nearly 1.4 million reds through the weekend.

The Ugashik District had about 108,000 reds and the Togiak District about 15,000 reds, giving the Bay a total of over five million sockeyes.

Base prices to fishermen for their Bristol Bay catch have yet to be posted by processors.

For Prince William Sound, the preliminary harvest total stood at 3.7 million salmon, including 2.4 million chums and 1.2 million sockeyes. Cook Inlet harvesters had delivered 195,000 sockeyes to processors, boosting the Central Region’s overall preliminary harvest to over nine million salmon.

In Southwest Alaska, the catch from the Alaska Peninsula stood at nearly 1.7 million salmon, including 1.3 million sockeyes, 211,000 pink and 203,000 chums.  Kodiak contributed another 378,000 salmon, including 228,000 sockeyes, 107,000 chums and 41,000 humpies. That brought the total number of fish delivered to Southwest Alaska processors to over two million salmon.

No catch reports were available yet on the start of the Southeast Alaska salmon troll fishery, according to state fisheries biologists in Sitka.