Humpies Harvest in Alaska May Set Record in 2013

Commercial harvests of pink salmon reached more than 139 million fish by August 13 and look to be heading toward an overall record harvest.

It’s looking like a record season for pinks, says Geron Bruce, assistant director of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Commercial Fisheries.

The record for Alaska’s run of wild pink salmon is 161 million humpies in 2005, but Bruce noted in an interview August 13 that commercial harvesters have been catching them at the rate of three million a day in Prince William Sound and something similar in Southeast Alaska. “If they keep that up, in a few days they will be over the top, and next week should be pretty good too,” he said.

Odd numbered years have been stronger recently for pink salmon harvests, and while this week – week 33 – is a peak week, the next week should be good too and even the week after that, he said. Over the last five years, the average for this week has been a catch of 20 million pinks, following by 13 million pinks the next week and five million pinks the week after that, he said.

The preliminary statewide total meanwhile has reached over 186 million fish, way ahead of the preseason forecast of 178.8 million salmon overall.

The statewide harvest for all wild salmon through Aug. 13 also included 28,752,000 sockeye, 15,420,000 chum, 2,206,000 silver and 299,000 king salmon, for a statewide overall harvest of 186,202,000 salmon of all species.

The largest overall harvest to date is in the state’s central region, including Prince William Sound, Cook Inlet and Bristol Bay.

In Prince William Sound the catch reached more than 69 million humpies, 20,681,000 reds, 4,397,000 chum, 379,000 silver and 34,000 kings, and in Cook Inlet, the catch stood at nearly four million salmon, including 2.7 million red, 808,000 pink, 229,000 silver, 227,000 chum and 5,000 Chinook salmon.

The Southeast region of Alaska had nearly 60 million fish, including 49.3 million pink, 8.2 million chum, 1.4 million silver, 734,000 sockeye and 220,000 kings.

In the Westward region, the Alaska Peninsula had delivered 10.3 million fish, among them 6.3 million pink, 2.7 million sockeye, 969,000 chum, 245,000 coho and 6,000 king salmon. At Kodiak, harvesters have delivered 16.7 million fish, including 13.7 million humpies, 2.2 million red, 675,000 chum, 61,000 silver and 33,000 kings, while in Chignik processors have received 3.2 million fish, including 2.3 million sockeye, 694,000 humpies, 146,000 chum, 26,000 silver and 3,000 king salmon.

On the Lower Yukon River, 473,000 salmon have been harvested, including 468,000 chum and 5,000 coho.