A preliminary report issued May 19 during the annual meeting of the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission (NPAFC) in South Korea, states that the Pacific salmon harvest in the North Pacific Ocean in 2022 was the second lowest catch of the 21st century.
Despite a growth in total catch compared to 2020, even-year pink salmon catch continued to decline to a level last seen from 1988 through 1992, data show. The last time the pink salmon portion of total catch weight equaled 36% was in 1994 and 1996.
The report was compiled using data provided by member countries Canada, Japan, South Korea, Russian and the U.S. Individual country totals reported were: 50% by the U.S. (352,000 metric tons, of which 342,000 metric tons was caught in Alaska); 37% by Russia (265,000 metric tons), 12.4% by Japan (88,000 metric tons) and less than 1% by both Canada (nearly 5,000 metric tons) and South Korea (138.3 metric tons).
Pink salmon constituted 36% of the overall catch, followed by sockeye, 30%, and chum salmon at 30%. Coho salmon comprised 2%, while Chinook salmon, cherry salmon and steelhead trout were each less than 1% of the catch by weight.
The total sockeye salmon commercial catch was 215,000 metric tons, the second highest ever recorded catch, behind 1993, and exceeded total the chum salmon catch of 213,000 metric tons for the first time.
The report said pink and chum salmon dominate Asian catches, but overall catches have generally been in decline since 2011. Pink salmon harvests reached a high of 517,000 metric tons in 2018, but declined to 146,000 metric tons in 2022, their lowest level since 132,000 metric tons was recorded in 2002.
The total North American catch in 2022 was 357,000 metric tons. While chum salmon harvests declined from 101,000 metric tons in 2017 to 54,000 metric tons in 2022, sockeye salmon harvests rose to 177,000 metric tons in 2022, compared to the five-year average of 126,000 metric tons.
In Alaska, sockeye and pink salmon are the major catch species, followed by chums. The 2022 chum salmon catch in Alaska rose to 50,000metric tons, up from 28,000 metric tons in 2020, which was the lowest catch since 1989.
In Canada, sockeye, pink and Chinook salmon comprised the most abundant species. While catches remain historically low, harvests for sockeye and pink salmon were larger, compared to 2021. In Washington, catches of about 10,000 metric tons of these salmon in 2022 were the highest total catches of salmon in that area since 2017, according to the NPAFC database.
Researchers concluded that hatchery releases of salmon and steelhead from NPAFC member countries have been stable since 1993, with some five billion fish released annually. After a record high of 5.5 billion fish in 2019, the number of hatchery releases decreased to 5.0 billion fish in 2022. Hatcheries released 2,188 million fish, or 44.5% of the total, in the U.S.; 1,333 million, 27% in Russia; 1,156 million, or 23% in Japan, 313 million, or 6% in Canada, and 13 million, or less than 1% in Korea.
Hatchery releases were primarily 2,970 million or 59% chum; and 1,399 million, or 28% pink salmon; followed by 289 million, or about 6% sockeye; 232 million, or roughly 5% Chinook; 85 million, or an estimated 2% coho salmon; 15 million, or less than 1% steelhead trout; and 12 million, or less than 1% cherry salmon.