Commercial fishing in the Copper River’s famed wild salmon fishery is expected to begin the week of May 14, with a harvest projection for the Copper River District of 889,000 sockeye, 207,000 coho and 4,000 Chinook salmon.
State Department of Fish and Game biologists say the initial management strategy will be based on anticipated weekly sockeye and Chinook salmon harvests, with additional assessments of river conditions, fishing effort and harvest consistency. Beginning in early to mid-August, when coho harvest becomes predominant, the Copper and Bering River districts will be managed for coho stocks.
The 2017 pink salmon forecast run for Prince William Sound is 67.16 million fish, of which 58.92 million will be available for commercial harvest. If the natural stock pink salmon forecast is realized it would be the second largest natural run on record, and well above the 1997–2015 odd-year average return of 12.29 million fish. State biologists said the 2017 Prince William Sound pink salmon forecast is the largest on record and liberal fishing time and area is anticipated if returns are as strong as expected.
The 2017 Bristol Bay sockeye salmon forecast is for some 41.5 million fish, with a projected bay-wide harvest of 27.47 million reds. Last year the Bay produced a sockeye harvest of 37.3 million fish from a total run of 51.4 million, exceeding the forecasted 46.55 million fish.
The average ex-vessel price of 76 cents a pound put the total sockeye fishery value at $153.2 million, according to the Bristol Bay Fishermen’s Association (formerly the Alaska Independent Fishermen’s Marketing Association).
Forecasters call for a total run of 10.65 million reds into Egegik and projected harvest of 8.56 million fish, while the Naknek-Kvichak district is anticipated to have a run of 16.07 million fish and harvest of 8.29 million.
For the Nushagak district, the anticipated sockeye run is 8.62 million, with a harvest of 6.06 million. The Ugashik district has a forecasted run of 5.46 million reds and harvest of 4.09 million fish, while Togiak’s anticipated run of 0.66 million reds is expected to produce a harvest of 0.48 million fish.