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.
Southeast Alaska’s commercial pink salmon catch has reached 25 million fish by the third week in August. That’s well short of the pre-season forecast and nowhere near the record setting run from two years ago.
While pink returns elsewhere in the state have been strong, Southeast pink numbers this summer have fishery managers scratching their heads.
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.
In the first five months of 2015, fishery and aquaculture product exports from Chile reached a value of USD 2,192 million, 24 per cent less than in the same period of 2014, when USD 2697.6 million was obtained.
Prince William Sound is on track to net the second-largest salmon harvest in history, following a record harvest in 2013.
The Prince William Sound commercial pink salmon harvest has surpassed the historical record for this time in the season, with just more than 72 million fish harvested as of Aug. 12, according to Alaska Department of Fish and Game assistant area biologist Tommy Sheridan.
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.
This summer, just as they have done for generations, setnetters are working the shores of the western Kenai Peninsula, stringing out nets and hauling in hundreds of thousands of fish from the abundant sockeye salmon runs of Southcentral Alaska.
The number of chinook salmon entering the Yukon has met minimum targets for the second year in a row.
This year, 57,000 fish have been counted in the Yukon River at Eagle, Alaska, just above the target of 55,000.
Biologists the number is somewhat encouraging, but say the problem of declining chinook has not been solved. This year's number still pales in comparison to average run sizes in the 1990s which measured 150,000 fish.
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.
n Southeast, seining for pink salmon is what fills some fishermen’s wallets. The season runs from late June to the first part of September peaking in August. As Angela Denning reports from Petersburg, so far the run is weaker than expected.
The deadline is July 28 on bids for the Southeast Alaska purse seine test fishery, to be done in pounds of salmon.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game said in an announcement July 24 that contracts for the aerial survey will be awarded to the bidder who bids the lowest total pounds, once Alaska bidders preference is considered.
The process is an effort to generate $30,000 for the aerial survey.
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.