The chinook salmon situation is looking more hopeful in the early part of the 2015 season relative to recent years, though not yet in the places where better runs are most needed.
Early king salmon seem to be making a comeback from abysmal showings in the last two years. Key rivers in Southcentral Alaska are seeing returns to normalcy and in some cases returns to states unseen for the last 10 years. Even the hard luck Yukon River is experience stronger showings than the past couple years, although still far less than historic averages.
Hidden Falls chum salmon performance is far below the forecast and the fishery will need to be closed in order to ensure broodstock numbers. The broodstock goal is 180,000 fish for the Hidden Falls/Takatz programs (101 million eggs), Deep Inlet (24 million eggs), and Southeast Cove (55 million eggs). NSRAA secured the permit for up to 30 million eggs from DIPAC, and DIPAC has generously agreed to take up to the limit this year. So far about 35,000 chum have been harvested at Hidden Falls; the male ratio from Sunday June 28 was 68%.
Fishermen report slow catches at Coffee Point and Naknek and researcher Bert Lewis tells us about shrinking chinook salmon - plus, a look at catch and escapement numbers, and some run analysis from FRI.
The long-awaited Naknek-Kvichak opener sounded a little slow, but there's another one planned for tomorrow. We also hear from Paul Greenberg about America's fisheries, check-in on the upcoming Southeast Alaska troll season and take a run through the numbers.
A decision by the Pacific Salmon Commission to cap this summer's Alaska harvest of king salmon at 237,000 fish, down from 440,000 fish a year ago, is prompting outrage from the Alaska Trollers Association.
"This year's quota shines a bright light on a treaty agreement that is not working for Southeast Chinook fishermen and communities," said Dale Kelley, executive director of the Alaska Trollers Association.
The Bristol Bay sockeye salmon harvest needs to come in at projection for 2015, or declining sockeye prices could squeeze fishermen throughout the region.
The industry has pressure to catch as much as it can. Volume will have to compensate for sinking salmon prices due to the closure of the Russian markets, the strength of the U.S. dollar against the currencies of key export markets like Japan, high volumes of foreign farmed salmon from Norway, and leftover salmon from 2014 still crowding shelves.
There are less than two weeks to go before the traditional start of the summer king salmon trolling season, on July 1st — but fishermen in Southeast don’t know yet how many kings they’ll be allowed to catch. That’s because representatives on the Pacific Salmon Commission are deadlocked: they can’t agree how many king salmon are out there.
It started with the Copper River and now the harvest of Alaska’s wild salmon is growing quickly, as fisheries in the Alaska Peninsula, Kodiak , Cook Inlet, the Yukon River, and Bristol Bay start to kick in.
The Alaska salmon return for 2015 is posed to set new records - forecasts show harvests of 221 million salmon, equating to about 1 billion pounds, reports Rob Reierson in the Tradex Foods 3-Minute Market Insight.
Commercial harvesters in the Copper River drift fishery harvested an estimated 940,000 wild salmon through June 15, and the overall Prince William Sound harvest reached 1.7 million fish.
That's according to the estimated in-season statewide harvest posted online daily by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
State biologists estimate a total of 946,000 sockeyes have been caught in Prince William Sound, including 907,000 reds in the Copper River drift fishery, where harvesters have also caught some 20,000 kings.
LOWER RUSSIAN LAKE -- What the heck’s a weir, anyway?
“It’s French for fence,” explained Alaska Department of Fish and Game Area Management Biologist Robert Begich.
Put simply, the fish weirs used by the department are typically long aluminum dam-like grates that extend the width of a river or creek to impede fish passage. Salmon migrating upstream to spawn are trapped behind the structure, which includes a small door through which technicians can allow fish to move through one at a time. This lets workers click off each fish on hand counters as the salmon pass.
Mediation talks are set to begin June 8 in Seattle regarding participation in a Marine Stewardship Council client group for Alaska salmon certification held by the Seattle-based Alaska Seafood Processors Association.
KDLG's Molly Dischner has June 8's Bristol Bay Fisheries Report. Tonight fisheries analyst Andy Wink talks about the market for sockeye salmon, we hear about the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association's annual meeting in Dillingham, and we check in on the new halibut bycatch caps set in Sitka Sunday evening.
In two unanimous decisions, the Alaska Supreme Court on Friday came down solidly on the side of a group fighting the proposed Pebble mine, backing efforts by two Alaska icons, former first lady Bella Hammond and state constitutional convention delegate Vic Fischer, to give the public a voice in mineral exploration.
Today, the Alaska Supreme Court issued an opinion that protects Alaskan’s right to know about — and to have a say in — how their resources are used. The Court ruled the Alaska Constitution requires the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to provide public notice and to evaluate whether exploration activities for the proposed Pebble Mine are in the public interest. The Court said it best: “The state must know how it should act before it acts.”
The Marine Stewardship Council will facilitate mediation for the salmon processors who disagree about who can participate in the client group that has the council’s sustainability certification. Back in April, ten of Alaska’s major salmon buyers asked to rejoin the label they dropped in 2012, saying it will help them tap back into picky European markets.
Alaska’s celebrated Copper River salmon fishery is off and running, with first run kings and sockeyes paying record prices of $8 and $5.25 a pound respectively to harvesters. And in the marketplace seafood aficionados were lining up in Anchorage to pay $31.95 a pound for Chinook fillets and $24.99 a pound for fillets of red salmon.
A fish-filled Alaska Airlines jet touched down at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport shortly after 6 a.m. today, carrying 18,000 pounds of wild Alaska Copper River salmon — about 4,500 more pounds than the weight of a Learjet 31. A second plane carrying an additional 30,000 pounds is scheduled to arrive in Seattle around 10:20 a.m. Today officially marks the start of the salmon season that is anticipated by seafood lovers throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond.