Salmon Harvest Grows, But Still Below Forecast

Harvests of all species of Alaska’s wild salmon runs grew to 149,217,000 for the week ended Aug. 19, still well short of the forecast of 203 million fish overall. Preliminary totals included nearly 40 million sockeyes, some 94.7 million pinks, 1.7 million silvers, nearly 12.8 million chums and 372,000 chinook salmon.

Alaska Department of Fish and game spokesman Geron Bruce notes that the pink salmon harvest continues to be very good in Southeast Alaska and is plugging along in Prince William Sound. The catch is likely to reach its forecast in Southeast Alaska, but not in Prince William Sound, where the harvest to date is 28 million pinks, compared to a forecast of 38 million pinks.

The red salmon harvest in Bristol Bay came in at some 22 million fish, and Bristol Bay is the big driver in sockeyes, so if Bristol Bay is under, it’s hard to make it up, Bruce said. Still Cook Inlet, Chignik and the Copper River came in above forecast, with preliminary harvest totals to date of 5.5 million, 2.5 million and 2 million reds respectively.

On the Lower Yukon River, the preliminary harvest report on the chum salmon run showed a catch of 425,000 fish through Aug. 19. “They are having a good fall run, and they had a good summer run,” Bruce said. The problem with the summer run was the king salmon run was so poor that fishing times for the chum harvest were limited to allow for enough escapement of the kings to the Upper Yukon and across the Canadian border.

Overall, Bruce said, the statewide salmon harvest will be somewhat similar to that of 2010, but probably worth a little bit more because prices are better, especially for the pink and chum salmon.