Commercial Salmon Catch in Alaska Tops 200M Fish

File photo of a salmon.

Alaska salmon harvests statewide have now exceeded 97% of the pre-season forecast, after a large jump in the harvest total, fueled by what was likely the peak week for pink salmon harvest.

As of Monday, Aug. 28, the preliminary commercial salmon total for the 2023 season stood at 200.7 million fish. That number includes 133.2 million pink, 49.6 million sockeyes, 16.6 million chums, 1.2 million coho and 185,000 kings, according to calculations of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Following weeks of trailing the 2022 (2021 for pinks) benchmark, the 2023 harvest volume is now similar to the comparison year in estimated total volume, according to Simon Marks, a research analyst with McKinley Research Group in Juneau, who’s producing weekly in-season commercial salmon harvest updates on behalf of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.

Through statistical week 33, which ended on Aug. 19, Alaska’s pink salmon harvest was up over 20% in estimated volume from 2021, with most of the harvest occurring in Prince William Sound, Southeast Alaska and Kodiak.

Marks noted that the pink salmon harvest had reached 96% of the pre-season forecast and was expected to easily exceed the forecast with several weeks of harvest remaining. Meanwhile, at least one major processor had stopped accepting pink salmon delivered by fishermen to Cordova.

While keta harvest is slowly declining, last week’s harvest brought the season total to 99% of the total pre-season forecast, Marks said. Chinook harvests were at 73% of the pre-season forecast and down 35% from last year to date in estimated volume. Early season coho harvests were at 36% of the predicted total harvest, up 40% year-to-date, Marks said.

In advance of the upcoming Labor Day weekend, retail prices for fresh wild coho salmon ranged from $10.95 a pound at 10th & M Seafoods in Anchorage to $19.99 a pound at Seattle’s famed Pike Place Fish Market.

Consumers were stocking up. Pike Place Fish Market said that it was already sold out of Alaska sockeye salmon individually flash frozen portions starting at $28.50 a pound, but expected to have more for sale soon.

One shopper at 10th & M purchased $300 worth of coho salmon fillets at $10.95 a pound and $200 worth of sockeye fillets, at $12.95 a pound, then came back to buy another $200 worth of the red salmon fillets.

10th& M also had Chinook salmon fillets from Puget Sound at $19.95 a pound.