Cook Inlet Commercial Salmon Fishery Run Exceeds Preseason Forecast

A sockeye salmon. File photo.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s preliminary summary of the Upper Cook Inlet commercial salmon fishery shows the area’s sockeye salmon total run of 5.2 million fish was 6% greater than the preseason forecast of 4.9 million fish.

The commercial salmon fishery harvest of 1.4 million salmon however was 44% less than the recent 10-year average annual harvest of 2.5 million fish. The 2022 ex-vessel value of all salmon species was $12.3 million and 535 less than the previous 10-year average annual ex-vessel value of $23.0 million.

ADF&G biologists said that of the five species of Pacific salmon harvested in Upper Cook Inlet the sockeye salmon accounted for 91% of the total ex-vessel value over the past decade.  

The 2022 chinook salmon harvest of 2,278 fish is the lowest on record, including 341 harvested by East Side set netters and 1,328 kings caught by northern district fishermen.

Escapement goals were met or exceeded in the six Upper Cook Inlet sockeye salmon escapements monitored by ADF&G in 2022, while three areas fell short of the escapement goal. State biologists said the Kenai River sockeye salmon escapement would not be finalized until in-river harvest is available in the fall of 2023.

Using the average in-river harvest upstream of sonar it is estimated to be near the upper bound of the sustainable escapement goal of 1.3 million fish. Neither the Kenai River early-run nor the late-run chinook salmon optimal escapement goals were achieved in 2022, data show.