PWS harvest nears 4.5M salmon

Statewide commercial harvest jumps from 14M to nearly 36M fish

Commercial salmon harvests in Prince William Sound rose to nearly 4.5 million fish through Tuesday, up 1.7 million fish over a week earlier, while for the same week the statewide catch reached nearly 36 million salmon, an increase of 21.7 million fish.

Those preliminary data totals from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game showed that the relative pace of the harvest was up from a week earlier, with half of the statewide sockeye forecast caught, noted Sam Friedman, fisheries consultant for McKinley Research Group, LLC, who produces the in-season weekly salmon updates on behalf of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.

In Prince William Sound, Copper River drift gillnetters had, through Tuesday, made 3,813 deliveries to processors. They brought in a total of 675,162 sockeyes, 19,304 chums, 10,243 Chinooks, 2,128 pink, and 996 cohos. Eshamy Bay drift and setnetters had 435,065 sockeyes, 96,426 chums, 12,271 pink, 34 Chinooks, and 37 coho salmon in 2,232 deliveries. Montague drift gillnetters had over 1 million chums, 49,371 pinks, 24,217 sockeyes, 146 Chinooks, and a single coho salmon.

The overall district wide preliminary count was 2,370,918 chums, 1,363,875 sockeyes, 743,973 pink, 10,780 Chinook, and 1,389 cohos.

Statewide preliminary harvest data showed delivery to processors of 35,716,000 fish, including 27,542,000 sockeyes, 4,795,000 chums, 3,257,000 pinks, 91,000 Chinooks, and 31,000 coho salmon.

In Bristol Bay the number of red salmon harvested to date is down slightly from 2022, although the estimated weight is up because of larger fish this year, Friedman said. A state biologist said this week the 2023 Bristol Bay harvest may fall below the forecast of 36 million fish, citing a recent lull in activity as well as harvest composition data showing fewer four-year-old fish than expected, Friedman noted.


Even if the Bristol Bay forecast is achieved this year, it will be much smaller than the record 2022 harvest of over 60 million fish, he said.

Meanwhile the statewide keta harvest continues to be strong, over double the year-to-date 2022 numbers and up 18% from the five-year-average.

In Southeast Alaska at least 38,000 Chinook salmon have been caught during the summer troll fishery which began on July 1. Average Chinook weights from that fishery, which was in doubt for weeks because of a lawsuit brought by the Wild Fish Conservancy in Seattle, have been 10.5 pounds. This is down about half a pound from a year ago, Friedman said.

On a regional basis, the state’s central region, including Bristol Bay, Prince William Sound, and Cook Inlet, leads with a catch to date of 31.6 million fish, followed by the westward region with 3.3 million fish, Southeast Alaska, with 806,000 fish, and the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim (AYK) region with 8,000 fish.

For the westward region, the catch included 2.2 million salmon caught offshore of the Alaska Peninsula and some 1.2 million fish caught off of Kodiak Island. In the AYK area, where commercial harvests were cut way back because of weak run returns, those allowed to harvest caught a total of some 5,000 chum and 3,000 pink salmon.

Fishmongers at FishEx, an Anchorage-based online retail marketer, were still posting online the availability of fresh Copper River reds, at $49.46 a pound, down from $54.95 a pound. Most other Alaska retail seafood shops had Alaskan red salmon at $11.95 to $24.95 a pound.