PWS salmon harvest at 16.8 million fish

Humpy harvest looks to be lowest in years

Commercial salmon harvests in Prince William Sound rose by another 1.7 million fish, bringing the catch to a total of 16.8 million salmon, including 11.4 million pinks, 3.4 million chums 1.9 million sockeyes, 41,000 cohos and 12,000 Chinooks.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s preliminary harvest totals through Aug. 16 showed that Copper River drift district delivered another 4,000 sockeyes, plus 21,000 silvers, and 6,000 chums, and the Eshamy district brought in another 1,000 pink salmon.

The Prince William Sound general seine district delivered an additional 216,000 pink salmon, bringing its total to 8.3 million salmon, and Prince William Sound hatchery fishery had another 993,000 humpies, raising its total to 4.3 million fish.

Data released this week by the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute compared harvests to date in fishing regions of Alaska, including Prince William Sound, with actual harvests to date a year ago, and the forecasts for each species in each region.

In Prince William Sound the sockeye salmon harvest to date of 1,932,000 reds, compares with a forecasts of 3.4 million reds and the harvest to date a year ago of 3.9 million fish.  The Chinook harvest of 12,000 fish compared with a forecast of 21,000 fish, and 23,000 kings harvested by this time in 2015.

Other 2015 harvests for Prince William Sound were 227,000 cohos, 43.9 million pinks and2.5 million chums. Forecasts for 2016 were for 266,000 silvers, 23.4 million humpies and 3.1 million chums.  To date Prince William Sound commercial harvests have delivered 35,000 silvers, 10.8 million pinks and 3.4 million chums, and those fisheries are still in progress.


Statewide though, ASMI said that the sockeye harvest to date stood at 51.8 million fish, compared to the 47.3 million fish forecast, while the pink harvest to date of 32.1 million fish compared to a forecast of 90.1 million fish.

The pink harvest is important to processors to pick up the overhead of running those big processing plants.  The lack of pink salmon is going to be a huge problem for processors and seiners, who depend on the income they bring, said a spokesperson for one major processor, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

This year’s pink salmon harvests could be the worst in 20 years, he said.

The largest pink salmon harvests in history in Alaska were 219 million humpies in 2013, and 190.5 million humpies in 2015, and in 2014, the last even year, harvesters delivered 95.8 million pinks.

The 2013 humpy harvest alone was worth $277 million.

A hatchery study under way aims to determine if hatchery stocks are affecting genetic strains of wild stocks, but no conclusions have been reached.