Salmon Harvest Opens from Bristol Bay to Kodiak and Beyond

An adult salmon in the rapids. File photo.

Harvesters in the Copper River, Bristol Bay, the Kenai Peninsula, Kodiak and the Alaska Peninsula are all competing now, as the Alaska commercial salmon fisheries open in full for the 2024 season with 3.7 million fish already delivered to processors.

As of June 24, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game estimated the catch at 2.6 million sockeyes, 1.2 million chums, 240,000 pink and 36,000 Chinook salmon.

In the central region of Alaska alone, Fish & Game estimated the total catch at 1.8 million fish, including 1.2 million sockeyes, 549,000 chums, 6,000 Chinook and 1,000 pink salmon, most of it from Prince William Sound.

In Bristol Bay, where a huge surge of the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery normally returns during the week of July 1, over 181,000 red salmon were already harvested in the Egegik District ad 46,000 in the Ugashik District and the Bay’s harvest total stood at 228,000 salmon.

In the Westward Region, over 1.5 million salmon — mostly from the South Peninsula — had been delivered to processors, including some 980,000 sockeyes, 283,000 chum and 239,000 pink salmon.

Commercial crews in the Kodiak area brought in a total of 145,000 fish, including some 25,000 sockeyes and 120,000 chum salmon, bringing the Westward Region total to 1.6 million fish, data show. Southeast Region harvesters had a total catch of 261,000 fish, including 225,000 chum and 29,000 Chinook salmon.

No harvests have been reported yet in the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim Region, where no commercial fishery is allowed again this year on the Yukon River due to weak salmon returns.

As more fisheries come online, prices have dropped significantly in some areas, and there are still deals to be had. The prized Copper River sockeyes were $34.99 a pound at Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle and $37.95 a pound at online Anchorage retailer FishEx.

Fred Meyer supermarkets in Anchorage were selling their fresh supply of Copper River reds for $12.99 a pound, the same price per pound as other shops were selling fresh red salmon from the Kenai Peninsula, Bristol Bay and Kodiak.

Northline Seafoods said July 2 that its capacity to freeze fish was limited by a June 30 electric fire on under one of the three spiral freezers on its freezer barge, the Hannah.

The incident has caused a significant loss of freeze production capacity and the manufacturer of the spiral freezer was on board this week, evaluating the need for repairs.

Northline Seafoods CEO Ben Blakey said the incident was a setback, but that damage was limited, no one was injured and freezing operations would continue throughout the salmon season.

Blakey said the company appreciates the understanding of its fishing fleet and looks forward to getting back to full capacity.