Alaska commercial salmon harvest tops 146 million

Alaska’s commercial salmon catch continues to climb, reaching 146 million fish through Sept. 2.

Statewide, the total catch includes 42.9 million sockeye, 89.5 million pink salmon, 3.9 million cohos, 9.2 million chums and 477,000 kings, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s bluesheet estimate.

Fishermen are now primarily targeting pinks, with about 400,000 caught in the Central Region, almost 600,000 caught in Southeast and about 200,000 caught in the Western Region, from Aug. 27 through Sept. 2.

The Central Region includes Bristol Bay, Prince William Sound and Cook Inlet, where catches are winding down.

In Prince William Sound, the remaining fishing effort is from purse seiners, with openings planned for early September.

There, fishermen have harvested a total of about 10,000 kings, 255,000 cohos, 1.1 million chums, 3.3 million sockeyes and 42.8 million pinks.

According to an Aug. 29 ADFG update, the hatchery coho return for Valdez Fishery Development Association appears to be weak, with 400 cohos collected for broodstock out of 1,000 fish needed. The fishery at Port Valdez was closed until escapement improved and a harvestable surplus was available.

Through Aug. 31, Prince William Sound Aquaculture Association had met its pink salmon escapement goal at one facility, and was on its way at two other facilities.

Western Region fishermen — including those in Kodiak, Chignik and the Alaska Peninsula — are catching cohos and pinks, with an estimated 788,000 cohos and 11.4 million pinks landed through Sept. 2.

At Kodiak, about 100,000 each of cohos and pinks were landed between Aug. 27 and Sept. 2. About 1,000 kings were also caught there.

Kodiak, Sand Point and Cold Bay salmon fishery openings were set to continue through early September, with ADFG announcing openings in both of those regions.

Southeast Alaska is the only region with king catches outside of Kodiak as the season ends, with about 423,000 caught through Sept. 2. Fishermen in Southeast also caught about 600,000 pinks between Aug. 27 and Sept. 2, 100,000 cohos, and smaller numbers of chums and sockeyes.

Additional Southeast purse seine openers were planned for early September, including some additional opportunity for king retention and sales. Setnet openings in several Yakutat-area fisheries were also extended. Other fisheries have had closures to allow regional aquaculture associations to meet broodstock goals, including in the Bear Cove Special Harvest Area in northern Southeast, where trolling was shut down Sept. 3.

In the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim Region, commercial fishing effort is focused on chums and cohos, with no pink catches reported and added to the bluesheet between Aug. 27 and Sept. 2.

The Yukon River saw most of the catch during that time frame. Yukon fishermen landed 14,000 chums, all on the upper river, and 18,000 cohos, mostly on the upper river although a few were caught in the lower portion.

For Kuskokwim fishermen, the commercial catch from Aug. 27 through Sept. 2 was about 20,000 cohos. Norton Sound fishermen harvested about 8,000 chums during the same time.

11/22/2016 - 5:00pm