PWS harvest mounts, reaching 18.6M salmon

Statewide harvest levels off, reaching nearly 63M fish

Commercial sockeye salmon harvests continue to mount slowly, but are leveling off earlier than in recent years, with the preliminary Prince William Sound harvest at 18.6 million fish and the statewide catch at 62.9 million fish as of Tuesday.

Preliminary data compiled by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game showed that the overall Prince William Sound deliveries to processors had reached a total of 1.75 million sockeyes, 12.8 million pinks, over 4 million chums, 8,000 Chinooks, and 1,000 cohos through Tuesday.

Statewide deliveries to processors included over 40 million sockeyes, nearly 15 million pinks, 7.4 million chums, 139,000 Chinooks, and 139,000 coho salmon.

Purse seiners in eastern Prince William Sound have delivered nearly 10 million pinks, far more than any other district within that region of the state, while the Copper River district led on sockeyes with some 756,237 fish. The overall humpy catch for Prince William Sound stood at 10.3 million fish.

The keta salmon harvest statewide continues to be well above recent year harvests while the Chinook harvest is down, according to fisheries economist Sam Friedman, who produced weekly commercial salmon fishery updates during the summer season for McKinley Research Group, on behalf of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Association.

Overall, the estimated harvest volume is down about 7% from 2022 (2021 for pinks), Friedman said.


Statistical week 28 has seen the peak of the sockeye salmon season in recent years in Bristol Bay and Alaska in general, with a peak Bristol Bay single-week harvest of nearly 22 million fish in 2022, Friedman noted. This year the statistical week 28 Bristol Bay sockeye harvest was about 12 million fish, up just slightly from the previous week.

The first major pink salmon harvests of the summer came in last week from Prince William Sound, with fishermen in the general seine fishery netting over six million humpies. Early data indicated that the Prince William Sound pink salmon weigh three pounds on average this year, a bit smaller than a year ago. The 2023 statewide pink salmon harvest forecast is 122 million fish, about half of that coming from Prince William Sound, Friedman noted.

In Bristol Bay, where deliveries to processors have reached 34.8 million salmon including 34.6 million sockeyes, harvesters frustrated over initial offers of 50 cents a pound for sockeyes said they would protest at Naknek all day on Thursday. 

The cumulative central region harvest, including Bristol Bay, Cook Inlet, and Prince William Sound, stood at 54.5 million fish, including 37.3 million sockeyes, nearly 13 million pinks, 4.3 million chums, 14,000 cohos, and 13,000 Chinooks.

In the Western region, including the Alaska Peninsula, Chignik, and Kodiak, deliveries reached 5.1 million fish, including nearly 3 million sockeyes, 1.3 million pinks, 797,000 chum, 53,000 coho, and 9,000 Chinooks. The catch for fishermen on the Alaska Peninsula reached 2.7 million fish, with 1.9 million sockeyes, 441,000 pinks, 373,000 chums, 28,000 cohos, and 3,000 Chinooks.

Chignik’s harvest to date reached 294,000 fish, including 291,000 sockeyes, 2,000 chums, and 1,000 pinks. Kodiak fishermen have delivered 2 million fish, including 871,000 pinks, 766,000 sockeyes, 422,000 chums, 25,000 coho, and 6,000 Chinooks.

In Southeast Alaska the cumulative total harvest stood at 3.2 million salmon, including 2.3 million chum, 660,000 pinks, 124,000 sockeyes, 117,000 Chinooks, and 72,000 cohos.

For the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim region, with most commercial fishing banned because of low returns, the Norton Sound area has caught some 10,000 chum and 3,000 pink salmon.

Prices in Anchorage supermarkets this past week ranged from $10.99 a pound for sockeyes for customers with store loyalty cards, to $12.99 a pound at seafood shops, and to as high as $21.99 a pound for sockeyes for those without loyalty cards at one supermarket chain.