By Margaret Bauman
Preliminary estimates from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game on the 2010 commercial salmon harvest and its value show that harvesters of wild salmon took home their largest paychecks in 18 years.
The preliminary 2010 estimate indicates that the harvest generated $533.9 million for those paychecks, the highest ex-vessel value of any season since 1992, with Bristol bay and Prince William Sound accounting for 55 percent of the total value of all salmon harvested.
The ADF&G report, issued Nov. 8, notes that preliminary 2010 statewide average prices showed an increase for all species of salmon compared to final 2009 prices. “The increase continues a strong recovery trend from the low salmon prices of 2002,” researchers said. Final 2010 prices for all salmon species may be higher yet, once post-season adjustments and end-of-season bonuses are paid to fishermen.
The harvest of 168.6 million pounds of all salmon species in Alaska is the 11th largest harvest since statehood, up 5.6 million fish over the 2009 harvest of 162.9 million fish, 31.3 million fish above the preseason forecast of 137.3 million fish, and 1.1 million fish above the most recent 10-year average commercial harvest of 167.5 million salmon.
The Bristol Bay sockeye salmon harvest of 28.6 million fish was likewise the 11th largest harvest in the Bay since statehood. While the 2010 sockeye catch was 2.3 million fish fewer than the 2009 total, the ex-vessel value of $148.7 million was $4.5 million higher than the 2009 value.
In Prince William Sound, harvesters set a record with a harvest of 75.4 million salmon. That’s 44.5 percent of all the salmon harvested statewide this year. The total included a pink salmon harvest of 69 million fish, a record high for Prince William Sound, which accounted for 66 percent of the state’s total pink salmon harvest for 2010.
The chum salmon harvest, the 8th highest since statehood, came in at 18.2 million fish, with an ex-vessel value of $92.7 million. That’s the second highest value for a chum salmon harvest since 1975.
The report will be revised and finalized once ADF&G receives all fish ticket data and annual processor reports that include final prices paid for all salmon this year.
For the details on numbers and pounds of fish, average fish weight, average price per pound and ex-vessel value for each salmon species by area and statewide, check under “2010 Preliminary Season Summary” on the ADF&G website (www.cf.adfg.state.ak.us).