SeaShare, the Seattle-based non-profit dedicated to distribution of high quality seafood to food banks nationwide, has received a donation of 450,000 portions of oven ready pollock and hake from the At-Sea Processors Association.
SeaShare’s Mary Harmon said Aug. 25 that the APA rallied once again to generate its annual donation of the lightly breaded four-ounce portions.
Deliveries of wild Alaska salmon to processors reached nearly 236 million fish as of Aug. 25, exceeding the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s forecast by more than 15 million fish, and the pink salmon forecast alone by upwards of 26 million fish.
The humpy harvest alone stood at 166.6 million fish. Processors had also received some 503,000 kings, 13.7 million chums, 2.4 million silvers and 52.6 million reds.
With the bulk of the sockeye season over, biologists and fishermen have continued to notice smaller than average weight for one of Alaska’s most valuable exports.
Workers statewide from offices of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, or ADFG, noticed an early in-season trend of smaller-than-average fish. Throughout the state’s early season salmon fisheries, particularly sockeye and chum, fish were coming in shorter and lighter for their age.
Alaska’s wild salmon harvests rose to more than 211 million fish through Aug. 18, as the humpy harvest alone climbed to 143.6 million, exceeding the forecast of 140 million pinks.
That was an overall estimated catch increase of 35.7 million fish over the last week, including 33.2 million pink salmon. The preliminary Alaska commercial salmon harvest report is updated daily during the salmon season by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
During a Monday call with reporters, Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan says a Trade Customs Bill could help get more Alaska seafood into foreign markets.
“We’re working on, in that bill, that would dramatically increase market opportunities for our seafood. You know, Alaska is the super power of seafood, we harvest more seafood than the rest of the country combined, and that would go after the highly subsidized fishing fleets of foreign nations. And we’re encouraging the administration, in these trade agreements, to go after unfair subsidies for other fishing fleets.”
Forrest Bowers, from Fish and Game's division of commercial fisheries, says there are fewer proposals this year than in 2012, when the board last took up Bristol Bay fisheries.
The board considers changes to each region on a three-year cycle. Proposals are submitted by members of the public, regional advisory committees and other organizations. For this winter’s meeting, they were due last spring.
This year, the largest chunk of the proposals - 24 - target district-specific management plans and regulations for Bristol Bay’s commercial salmon fishery.
Coming up this week, Bristol Bay sockeye may have been late but they're finishing in record territory; the Fish Board took action to protect Togiak fishermen; and buyers are struggling to keep up with the number of chum salmon flooding Norton Sound. All that, and the details behind the long awaited peace treaty over MSC labeling.
Through Monday, the total Bristol Bay sockeye run was estimated at 51,935,000, according to Area Management Biologist Tim Sands. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has stopped sending out daily run summaries, but managers are still tracking the activity.
“It looks like we’ll break 52 million in the total run here today,” Sands said Tuesday.
There was much anticipation going into the 2015 Bristol Bay sockeye season this year, with some 54 million sockeye salmon forecasted to return. While the final return of sockeye may fall just short of the pre-season forecast, the 2015 sockeye season was a historic one, with a much higher than average return and a surprisingly late, long run. As of July 26, 51 sockeye salmon returned to Bristol Bay with 35 million of those fish harvested. The peak of Bristol Bay’s run came in about ten days later than usual this year.
A robust forecast, followed by what first appeared to be a season gone bust in Bristol Bay, culminated with a run of wild sockeyes exceeding 50 million reds, and the price to fishermen sank.
"Everybody's concerned with the price," said Dave Harsila, president of the Alaska Independent Fishermen's Marketing Association, and a veteran Bristol Bay harvester. "I don't think anybody expected it to be that low, but that's what it is.
Two seafood industry trade associations have come to an agreement to transfer, effective for the 2016 season and beyond, ownership of the Marine Stewardship Council sustainability certificate for Alaska salmon.
The transfer announced July 21 by the Pacific Seafood Processors Association and the Alaska Salmon Processors Association is to be completed by Oct. 1.
The agreement will have no impact on sales for 2015.
Tough restrictions that shut down fishing at the start of this year’s king salmon run on the Kuskokwim River may have made a difference.
A state research biologist told a Kuskokwim River advisory group Wednesday that goals for salmon escapement -- fish that swim past nets, hooks and predators to spawn -- have been met on several of the big river’s key tributaries.
Coming up this week, Bristol Bay sockeye strategically held back from hitting the nets until everyone doubted they'd show at all; Manakotak says “we can annex, too,” and getting to know our friends, the cannery workers. We had help KDLG's Molly Dischner and Dave Bendinger in Dillingham, and KFSK's Joe Sykes in Petersburg.
The 2015 fishery summed up? Odd, confusing, unique, strange. Or that's what fishermen and managers are telling us. Their take on 2015, fish numbers and other news, plus - how do you survive a Bristol Bay romance?
Statewide catches of wild Alaska salmon jumped from an estimated total of 20.3 million fish on July 7 to 53.5 million fish on July 14, lifting the spirits of harvesters in what has been a disconcerting season.
Biologists with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game noted that the late run of the run into Bristol Bay was showing strength, along with an increase in the average size of the sockeyes.
"The fishery has picked up substantially," said David Harsila, of Seattle, president of the Alaska Independent Fishermen's Marketing Association.
Bristol Bay lived up to its reputation for unpredictability as a bizarre late rush of sockeyes has surged into fishermen’s nets nearly a week past the historical peak, with enough still coming to potentially surpass the 20-year average harvest by several million fish.
“Things change,” said Chuck Brazil, assistant area biologist for Bristol Bay. “That’s why we manage the fishery day to day.”