Chum, sockeye abundance up for harvest season ahead

Wild stocks of chum salmon are expected in a run 83.6 percent above average in Prince William Sound for the 2018 commercial fishing season, in contrast to an anticipated run on pink salmon 20.7 percent below average, say biologists with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

That put the run forecast range at 189,000 to 594,000 chums, and 310,000 to 13,151,000 for humpies.

For the Copper River, the forecast is for a run of sockeyes down by 16.5 percent, with a range of 1,264,000 to 2,208,000 reds, and the wild Chinook run will be down 4.4 percent, with a range of 19,000 to 66,000 kings.

State biologists also said they anticipate sockeye runs of 108,000 to 188,000 fish from the Gulkana Hatchery, putting the total Copper River run range of sockeyes at 1,391,000 to 2,376,000 fish.

Wild production of sockeyes at Coghill Lake is predicted to be 22 percent above average, with a range of 95,000 to 407,000 fish.

For Kodiak Management Area, the pink salmon run is anticipated to be weak, but still similar to the five-year even-year wild stock average, forecasters said. For Kodiak’s Ayakulik and Karluk river, however, the forecast is for above average runs of sockeyes.


For Bristol Bay, the forecast is for a sockeye salmon run of 51.28 million fish, with a range of 40.68,000-61,88,000 reds, which is 18 percent above the recent 10-year average of Bristol Bay runs of 42.71 million fish, and a harvest of some 37.59 million fish. All nine river systems flowing into Bristol Bay are expected to meet their spawning escapement goals.

The forecast for Chignik sockeyes of 848,000 reds is 528,000 less than the 10-year average run of 1.38 million and nearly 301,000 less than the 2017 early run of 1.15 million fish.

For the South Alaska Peninsula, biologists are anticipating a global warming related poor harvest of pink salmon. The largest potential source of uncertainty in anticipated returns of pink salmon may be warm sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Alaska and increasing total run size differences between even and odd year returns, biologists said. Pink salmon that migrated to sea in 2015 returned the following year in numbers well below fasted returns and it is likely that pinks that went to sea in 2017 experienced similar conditions and that the 2018 return will be poor also, they said.

ADF&G forecasters said they expect an overall decrease in commercial harvests of salmon in 2018. Their projection is for a harvest of 147.3 million salmon of all species, including 99,000 kings in areas outside of Southeast Alaska, 51.6 million sockeye, 4.9 million coho, 69.7 million pink and 21 million chum salmon.

The projected humpy harvest is about 72 million fewer than the pink salmon harvest of 2017, a sockeye harvest down by two million fish, a coho harvest down by 301,000 fish, and a chum harvest down by some four million fish.

Biologists noted that the pink salmon forecasts are generally based on average returns from previous brood years, so the low pink salmon run forecast for 2018 is an artifact of this method and the small run size in 2016.