Pacific Salmon Catches Remain High Overall

A new report from the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission says North Pacific-wide total salmon catches for 2019 remained near all-time high levels, but were particularly low for some salmon species in commission member countries.

Russia led with 499.1 thousand metric tons, or 51 percent, followed by 406.9 thousand metric tons, or 42 percent by the United States, of which 401.9 metric tons was caught in Alaska.

Japanese harvesters caught 59.5 thousand metric tons, or 6 percent; Canadian fishermen harvested 2.9 thousand metric tons, less than 1 percent, and Korean harvesters brought in 130 metric tons.

Pink salmon constituted the majority of the total commercial catch, 54 percent by weight, followed by chum, 24 percent, and sockeye salmon 19 percent. Coho comprised 2 percent of the catch. Chinook salmon, cherry salmon and steelhead trout were each less than 1 percent of the catch by weight.

NPAFC officials said pink and chum salmon dominate Asian catches.

In Alaska, pink and sockeye salmon are the primary species, followed by chums. In Canada, chum, sockeye and pink salmon were the most abundant species caught, but exceptionally low catches of those salmon species in 2019 resulted in the lowest total catches of salmon – 2,973 metric tons- on record for Canada in the NPAFC database dating back to 1925.

In Washington, Oregon and California Chinook, chum and coho salmon are typically the most abundant species caught. Particularly low catches of chum, sockeye and coho salmon in 2019 resulted in the lowest total catches of salmon -4,965 metric tons – on record for those three states in the NPAFC database.

Hatchery releases of salmon and steelhead from NPAFC member countries have been stable since 1993, with some 5 billion fish released annually. The highest hatchery releases on record – 5.5 billion fish – occurred in 2019, primarily because of increased Asia hatchery releases.

Hatcheries released 2,023 million fish, or 37 percent of the total in the U.S.

Japan released 1,918 million fish, or 35 percent; Russia 1,181 million or 21 percent; Canada 384 million or 7 percent, and Korea 11 million, or less than 1 percent, the NPAFC said.