Norton Sound Salmon Runs Increase, But Still Weak

Image via NOAA.

Chum and coho salmon runs into Alaska’s Norton Sound showed up well below runs of the 2010s, but better than a year ago, while the Chinook salmon run was worse than in 2021, state fisheries biologists said.

Meanwhile, the pink salmon run was average for an even-numbered year and well below the record runs of the last three even-numbered years, according to the season summary released on Oct. 27 from Nome.

The chum salmon harvest of 2022 was over four times higher than last year and the coho salmon harvest was nearly double that of a year ago, but both harvests still were well below the recent five-year average harvest when there were record coho salmon harvests and the chum harvests were the best in 30 years, biologists said.

Although the run of humpies was better than last year’s odd-numbered year run, there was limited buyer interest and capacity that resulted in less than one-third of last year’s harvest.

The only places where there were limits on subsistence salmon harvest were the Nome Subdistrict, and Pilgrim River and Salmon Lake in the Port Clarence District. Biologists said the pink salmon escapement at Shaktoolik River of over 1.4 million fish was the third highest in the last nine years of counting.

The North River escapement was less than half the Shaktoolik River escapement like the last three even-numbered years. At the Unalakleet River weir the picket spacing allows pink salmon to pass through without being counted, biologists said.