Harvest of 189.4M salmon projected for 2023

Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) biologists are projecting an overall commercial harvest of 189.4 million salmon during the 2023 season, including an excellent run of wild sockeye salmon in the Coghill district, and a strong run of wild pink salmon in Prince William Sound.

Average runs of wild Chinook and sockeyes are anticipated in the Copper River, and weak runs of sockeyes from the Gulkana Hatchery and Prince William Sound chum salmon, according to the report issued on Wednesday by ADF&G.

The Copper River Chinook salmon total run forecast point estimate is 53,000 fish, or 15% above the recent 10-year average total run of 46,000 fish. The overall Prince William Sound harvest is projected to be nearly 20.3 million wild fish, including over 18 million wild pink salmon and 46.8 million from hatchery production.

The department projected a statewide harvest of 78,000 Chinook, 48.2 million sockeye, 3 million coho, 122.2 million pink, and 16 million chum salmon. Compared to 2022 commercial harvests, the projected 2023 commercial harvests are expected to be as follows: 52.7 million more pink salmon, 27.3 million fewer sockeye salmon, 1 million more coho salmon, and 24,000 more chum salmon.

The statewide overall increase in harvest numbers is mostly due to an increase in pink salmon harvests compared with last year.

Biologists noted that there is a great deal of uncertainty in forecasting pink salmon returns due to their fixed two-year life history and limited information to serve as a basis for predictions. As a result, pink salmon harvest forecasts are generally based on harvests from previous brood years. A notable exception is Southeast Alaska, where a joint ADF&G and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration survey and juvenile pink salmon outmigration index is the basis for predicting harvests for the next year.


In recent decades Alaska-wide pink salmon returns have tended to be larger during odd years than during adjacent even years, although there is much regional variation to this trend.

The department will continue to manage the Prince William Sound and Copper River area commercial salmon fisheries in-season based primarily on the strength of salmon abundance indices including sonar counts, weir passage, aerial escapement surveys, and fishery performance data.