Commercial salmon harvests in Alaska are off to a robust start, with the central and westward regions of the state leading in harvests, putting the preliminary catch figure at upwards of 16 million fish, according to preliminary reports from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
As of Tuesday, June 28, ADF&G reports showed a catch of 16,324,000 salmon, including 13,231,000 sockeyes, two million chums, over one million humpies, 60,000 Chinooks and 2,000 coho salmon.
In Bristol Bay alone, harvesters delivered nearly eight million fish through Monday, June 27, data show, including 7.8 million sockeyes 105,000 chums and one-thousand Chinooks.
The largest catch came from the Nushagak District, with 3.5 million sockeyes, 105,000 chums and one thousand kings, followed by Egegik District, with 3,090,000 sockeyes, according to Fish and Game.
Prince William Sound fishermen, in an area that includes the famed Copper River district, recorded deliveries of 2.3 million salmon including 1.4 million chums, 862,000 sockeyes and 10,000 kings, of which 435,000 of those fish came from the Copper River District.
Cook Inlet fishermen have brought in a total of some 81,000 sockeyes, data show.
In Alaska’s westward region, deliveries from the Alaska Peninsula and Kodiak totaled an estimated six million fish, including over four million sockeyes, one million pinks, 420,000 chums and 2,000 kings from the Alaska Peninsula.
Kodiak Island area harvesters brought in another 445,000 fish, including 358,000 sockeyes, 74,000 chums, 10,000 humpies, 2,000 kings and 1,000 coho salmon.
Fisheries economist Sam Friedman of McKinley Research Group in Anchorage, noted in his weekly in-season commercial salmon update, compiled on behalf of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, that Alaska salmon harvest levels are now almost 8% above year-to-date 2021 (2020 for pinks), led by strong sockeye harvests in the Alaska Peninsula and Bristol Bay regions.
“So far more than nine million sockeye salmon have been harvested across Alaska, which is 26% more than 2021 to date and 14% more than the five-year average,” Friedman said. “Most of the sockeye harvest has taken place in the Southern Alaska Peninsula area and in two districts on either side of Bristol Bay: Egegik and Nushagak.
While the strong sockeye harvests have brought the total salmon harvest up, harvest counts for other species are underperforming. The early season pink salmon harvest is down 41% (about 700,000 fish) from 2020, and the keta salmon harvest is down 12% (about 200,000 fish), he stated.