Alaska’s Wild Salmon Harvest Climbs to 50 Million Fish

Alaska’s wild salmon harvest rose by more than 10 million fish
from July 13 through July 20, to reach the 50 million fish mark, including nearly
31 million sockeye salmon. The bulk of the red salmon catch was harvested in the
Bristol Bay watershed, including a cumulative total of more than 10 million reds
in the Naknek-Kvichak district, now quiet as harvesters depart for other fisheries.
The Copper River harvest now stands at 1.8 million salmon, a
small increase over the previous week, and includes some 1,783,000 reds, plus some
29,000 chum and 12,000 kings. While the fresh Copper River reds are now long gone,
Copper River Seafoods, one of several processors of those reds, has joined other
marketers of Alaska’s wild salmon online, with gift packages of smoked sockeye salmon
fillets on, in addition
to its own website,

Cook Inlet’s wild salmon harvest rose from 460,000 fish to 1.4
million over the same week ended July 20, with the sockeye salmon harvest alone
jumping from 433,000 to 1.3 million reds, but the commercial East Side setnet fleet
was basically shut down by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in an effort to
protect king salmon swimming up that side of Cook Inlet.
Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell has already asked for a federal disaster
declaration related to Yukon and Kuskokwim Chinook salmon stocks, and noted in that
request there is a similar trend on Cook Inlet stocks. Parnell said in the fall,
when the season’s fishery return data is in, he intends to send a follow-up letter
to federal authorities to support the disaster declaration request.
Parnell said he has also called for a state Department of Fish
and Game comprehensive fisheries research plan. Parnell said he has already requested
millions of federal dollars for Chinook salmon research but this was above and beyond
that earlier request.
On the Lower Yukon River, a strong run of fall Yukon chums boosted
the cumulative harvest from 176,000 to 285,000 fish, but that didn’t make up for
the lost harvest during the summer run, when commercial fishermen had to wait to
begin fishing until the required number of kings had escaped upstream, heading toward
the Canadian border.
In Southeast Alaska, the cumulative catch doubled to 5.6 million
salmon, including 4.3 million chum, 595,000 pink, 318,000 red, 232,000 silvers and
132,000 kings.
On the Alaska Peninsula the harvest edged up slightly to 3.3
million fish, including 2.5 million sockeyes, while at Kodiak the cumulative harvest
rose from 1.6 million to 2.2 million salmon, including 1.4 million sockeyes.