Preliminary harvest data shows the catch in Alaska’s wild salmon fisheries rose to over 22.7 million fish through July 4, including a record 1.2 million salmon caught on July 3 in Bristol Bay’s Nushagak District. It was the second time this year, and in the history of the Nushagak District, that the daily sockeye salmon harvest exceeded one million reds, noted Tim Sands, an area biologist at Dillingham for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, who described the sockeye fishery as “gangbusters.”
As of July 4, the cumulative Nushagak District harvest stood at 5.2 million sockeyes, with 542 permits and 421 vessels registered to fish there. The strength of the run has been such that Peter Pan Seafoods still had its harvesters on limits, and two other processors, Silver Bay and Ekuk Fisheries had suspended buying on the morning of Independence Day, Sands said.
The surge of reds aside, four vessels harvesting in the Nushagak were partially submerged after taking on water, but good Samaritan boats assisted everyone on board and no injuries were reported. “More than one boat out there was deck loaded with lots of fish on board and you throw weather into that mix and it can go fast,” Sands said. One of the vessels involved was reported to have about 14,000 pounds of fish on board, far exceeding its capacity.
The preliminary Bristol Bay harvest, totaling 10.5 million salmon, including 9.6 million reds, also includes 3.5 million sockeyes harvested in the Egegik District, 720,000 in the Naknek-Kvichak, 140,000 in the Ugashik and 40,000 at Togiak.
Processors in Prince William Sound have received nearly 14 million fish, including 445,000 Copper River reds and another 331,000 sockeyes from the Eshamy District. Cook Inlet harvesters have brought in some 270,000 fish, including 253,000 reds.
Harvests mounted too in the Western Region with a catch of 5.7 million salmon in the Alaska Peninsula, 829,000 more at Kodiak and 752,000 at Chignik.
Harvests of oil-rich keta salmon have reached 204,000 on the Lower Yukon River and 31,000 on the Upper Yukon.