A plentiful supply of freshly harvested wild Alaska sockeye salmon fillets were on sale at $9.99 a pound at Costco stores in Anchorage in late July, 2023. Photo by Margaret Bauman for The Cordova Times

Commercially caught salmon deliveries in Prince William Sound rose to 27.2 million fish through Tuesday, buoyed by an overall preliminary harvest of 21 million pink salmon, according to preliminary data compiled by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G).

The catch delivered to processors in Prince William Sound now also includes 4.3 million chums, 1.9 million sockeyes, 8,000 Chinooks, and 5,000 cohos, according to the ADF&G report.

Most retailers in the Anchorage area and beyond this past week were featuring wild Alaska sockeye fillets from Prince William Sound and the Kenai Peninsula, but the online seafood firm FishEx in Anchorage was still offering “premium portions” of Copper River kings at $89.95 a pound and “premium portions” of Copper River sockeyes for $49.46 a pound.

Statewide preliminary catch estimates rose to over 81 million salmon, including 45.3 million sockeyes, 26 million pinks, 9.2 million chums, 313,000 cohos, and 158,000 Chinooks.

Sales of fillets of the succulent red salmon were robust in the Anchorage area, selling on average between $9.99 a pound at Costco stores to $12.99 a pound at 10th & M Seafoods, a popular seafood shop which was receiving its fish from Prince William Sound, the Kenai Peninsula and Bristol Bay.

ADF&G data showed that in the Eastern District of Prince William Sound alone purse seiners have delivered a total of over 16 million pink salmon, while in Southwestern Prince William Sound the humpies brought to processors number over 980,000 fish, and in Northern Prince William Sound fishermen have brought in to date another 836,967 pinks.


For sockeyes, the three districts with the biggest catch to date are the Copper River drift gillnetters who have brought in 828,803 reds, Eshamy Main Bay drift and set netters with 484,589 reds, and Coghill drift gillnetters who have harvested 222,572 reds.

The Coghill and Montague drift gillnet harvesters delivered 1.4 million chums and 1.2 million chums respectively to processors, followed by purse seiners in Eastern Prince William Sound.

Southwestern Prince William Sound, with 192,446 chums and 182,122 chums respectively.

Copper River drift gillnetters have harvested 10,405 Chinooks to date, far ahead of any other district.

On a regional basis, the central region – including Price William Sound, Bristol Bay, and Cook Inlet – continues to have the largest harvest to date overall, with upwards of 67 million salmon netted, including 41.5 million sockeyes, 21.2 million pinks, 4.6 million chums, 34,000 cohos, and 13,000 kings.

In the Westward region – including the Alaska Peninsula, Chignik and Kodiak – 7.2 million salmon have been brought to processors to date, including 3.6 million sockeyes, 2.4 million pinks, over 1 million chums, 118,000 cohos, and 11,000 Chinooks. Fishermen working the north and south sides of the Alaska Peninsula have a catch to date of 3.7 million fish, while Kodiak harvesters have taken nearly three million salmon, and Chignik has delivered 575,000 salmon.

In Southeast Alaska the harvest stands at 6.3 million fish, including 3.5 million chums, 2.3 million pinks, 188,000 sockeyes, 161,000 cohos, and 134,000 kings.

In the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim region, where commercial harvests this year are only allowed in Kotzebue and Norton Sound due to low run returns, the Kotzebue area has a total catch of 20,000 chums, and in Norton Sound deliveries have included 11,000 chums and 3,000 pink salmon.

Alaska’s total salmon harvest is down slightly year-over-year through Statistical Week 29 due largely to reduced harvests of sockeye salmon in Bristol Bay and the Alaska Peninsula, said Simon Marks, a research analyst with McKinley Research Group LLC, which produces weekly updates during the commercial salmon season on behalf of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute. 

Harvests of Chinook salmon are also down, while keta, pink, and coho salmon harvests are up so far, Marks said.

Statewide, 92% of the 2023 sockeye salmon forecast of 48 million fish has been caught, as sockeye salmon runs begin to wind down.

In Bristol Bay, the harvest has surpassed the lower bound of the pre-season forecast, but remains 26% lower than last year at the same time, in estimated ex-vessel weight.

Pink salmon harvests are up 25% in estimated weight from 2021 (pink salmon are compared to the previous odd-numbered years because of the fish’s two-year lifecycle), driven by a strong early season harvest in Prince William Sound and Southeast Alaska. In Southeast, an ADF&G bulletin issued last week stated that the Southeast pink harvest is now projected to be more than twice the preseason forecast of 19 million fish, based on the strength of the early run. That season is still in the early stage, so this projection could change significantly.