Alaska’s commercial salmon harvest continues to center around Bristol Bay and the Alaska Peninsula, as processors have received over 51 million fish, over 31 million of them from Bristol Bay, over nine million from the Alaska Peninsula, and 8.6 million from Prince William Sound.
For the Nushagak district of Bristol Bay alone, fishermen have caught nearly 16 million sockeye salmon, while in the bay’s Egegik, Naknek-Kvichak and Ugashik districts, they have delivered to processors 6.3 million sockeyes, 6.1 million sockeyes and 2.5 million sockeyes, respectively.
Alaska Troopers have also been busy in the Bristol Bay fishery, issuing fines to 18 fishing vessels so far for commercial fishing in closed waters.
Harvesters on the south side of the Alaska Peninsula have harvested 7.3 million salmon, including 3.0 million sockeyes, 3.4 million pink and 909,000 cohos, while the North Peninsula has a catch of nearly 2.0 million sockeyes. Meanwhile at Kodiak, processors have seen delivery of 1.4 million salmon, including over 1.0 million sockeyes, 278,000 pink and 105,000 chums.
Prince William Sound’s catch has reached 8.7 million fish, including nearly 5.5 million pink, 2.2 million chums and 948,000 sockeyes.
Meanwhile in the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim region of western Alaska there have been no commercial openers to date.
The state’s early season fisheries for Chinook, sockeye and keta salmon have reached the approximate midpoint of their season with the pace of fishing overall slowed down slightly compared to last year, says Dan Lesh, who produces McKinley Research Group’s weekly in-season commercial salmon harvest report on behalf of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.
Lesh said this year’s salmon harvest so far is about 87% of the harvest at this point last year (and 2019 for pink salmon), down from 96% last week.
So far this year, 23% of the projected Alaska salmon harvest of about 190 million fish has been caught, including 72% of the projected sockeye harvest. On average over the past five years, keta, sockeye and Chinook harvests have all peaked at this point in the summer, Lesh said.
Bristol Bay’s sockeye run has come in very strong and more spread out than a year ago, he explained, adding that the sockeyes are coming in smaller, with the average size currently at 4.5 pounds per fish compared to 5.1 pounds in 2020.
Keta harvests have dropped both of the last two weeks. If they have already peaked, the total keta harvest this year will be far below the five-year average, although that may still exceed last year’s total, he said.