Seine vessels fish near Bligh Island during a 16-hour open period in late July 2023. Photo by Kinsey Brown for The Cordova Times

A preliminary report on the 2023 Alaska commercial salmon season released on Tuesday by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG) showed a big increase in the numbers of fish, with a significant decrease in the overall value of the harvest. 

Commercial fishermen delivered 230.2 million salmon to processors during the 2023 season, up 43% from the 2022 harvest of 160.7 million fish, but valued at about $398.6 million, down from $720.4 million in 2022.  

ADFG officials noted that international market conditions significantly impacted pricing of salmon statewide, thus the overall value of the harvest was of concern to harvesters and processors. 

The preliminary report showed that sockeyes accounted for approximately 45% of the total value at $181.1 million and 23% of the harvest at 51.8 million fish. Pink salmon comprised approximately 29% of the value at $113.7 million, and 66% of the harvest with 152.4 million fish.  

Chum salmon made up 19% of the value at $74.6 million and about 10% of the harvest at 23.5 million fish. Coho salmon accounted for approximately 4% of the value at $14.4 million, and 1% of the harvest at 2.3 million fish. Chinook salmon harvest was estimated to be just under 235,000 fish with an estimated preliminary ex-vessel value of $14.7 million.  

Some 5,577 individual permit holders made commercial salmon landings in 2023, a decrease from 6,126 in 2022. 


Looking at the fishery on a long-term basis (1985-2022), the preliminary report noted that the 2023 all salmon species commercial harvest of approximately 230.2 million fish weighing in at 919.7 million pounds was the fourth highest on record for total fish harvests, and seventh highest on record for total pounds harvested. 

When adjusted for inflation, the 2023 ex-vessel value estimate of $398.6 million was the sixth lowest ex-vessel value reported since 1975. 

ADFG emphasized that these are preliminary harvest and value estimates, which will change as fish tickets are processed and finalized. Dollar values provided by ADFG are based on estimated ex-vessel prices and do not include those post-season price adjustments. The final value of the 2023 salmon fishery will be determined in 2024 after seafood buyers and processors report the total value paid to fishermen in 2023. 

Meanwhile with the Christmas and New Year’s holidays coming up, retail seafood markets were preparing to offer special deals on salmon, halibut and king crab to Alaska residents, including businesses, for personal and business holiday gifts.