Alaska’s 2021 Commercial Salmon Harvest of 233.8M Fish Valued at $643.9M

Alaska Department of Fish and Game
Preliminary Alaska Department of Fish and Game figures show an estimated 233.8 million salmon caught commercially in 2021, compared with 116.8 million in 2020. Image: Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Preliminary harvest and value figures on the 2021 Alaska commercial salmon fishery show a value of $643.9 million, up from $295.2 million.This year, there were nearly 234 million fish caught compared to 116.8 million fish in 2020, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

The ADF&G’s preliminary figures show that sockeye salmon accounted for about 56% of the total value at $361.4 million and 24% of the harvest at just under 57 million fish.

Humpies accounted for about 28% of the value at $178.8 million and 69% of the harvest with under 161 million fish, Chums were nearly 10% of the value at $62.7 million and about 6% of the harvest with 128 million fish. Cohos comprised about 4% of the value at $23.9 million and 1% of the harvest at 2.7 million fish. Chinooks were estimated to include over 265,000 fish with an estimated preliminary ex-vessel value of $17.1 million.

The Fish & Game report said a total of 6,362 individual permit holders made landings in 2021, a slight decrease from 6,496 individual permit holders in 2020.

The 2021 all-species commercial salmon harvest of just under 234 million fish and 858.5 million pounds is the third highest on record for both total fish and total pounds harvested. Adjusted for inflation, the 2021 ex-vessel value estimate of $643.9 million is also the third highest reported since 1975.

State biologists noted that these are preliminary harvest and value estimates that will change as fish tickets are processed and finalized.

Bristol Bay itself had an estimated catch of over 42 million salmon, the bulk of which were sockeyes, with an estimated ex-vessel value of nearly $249 million, while Southeast Alaska, including Yakutat, had an estimated harvest of over 58 million fish, mainly pinks, with an estimated value in excess of $132 million.

In Prince William Sound, harvesters brought in 70.5 million fish, again mostly humpies. Fishermen in the Alaska Peninsula delivered some 26.7 million salmon, including 16.6 million pinks, worth approximately $67.4 million.

In Cook Inlet, the harvest totaled nearly four million salmon, predominantly pinks and sockeyes, with an estimated value of nearly $19 million.

Yukon River area fisheries, known for their oil-rich keta salmon, had no harvest in 2021. The river was closed to salmon fishing because of very weak run returns.