State fishery managers for Alaska are now saying the run of wild Alaska sockeye salmon in Upper Cook Inlet could reach 9.9 million reds or more. The preseason forecast was for 6.4 million reds, but the mid-July mid-season assessment conducted by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game prompted biologists to boost those numbers. A week earlier some processors put restrictions on how much fish they would take from harvesters but not they have brought in extra tenders and there are no limits at this time on deliveries to tenders.
Some 58 fishing vessels are registered to fish in Upper Cook Inlet, of which 420 drift gillnetters were reported fishing, but biologists said some might be fishing with double permits. Harvests continue to be robust, even with in-river escapement for the Kenai River raised to 1.1 million to 1.35 million fish, up from 1 million to 1.2 million fish. The only potential downside of this abundance is a concern for sport angler interests in king salmon.
Commercial fisheries biologists said the state Division of Sport Fishing issued an emergency order that removes bait from that fishery beginning July 25 and also eliminating the one king salmon per permit for the Kenai River dip net fishery. Should the sport fishery for kings on the Kenai River be closed, so would the east side commercial setnet fishery.
Statewide through July 23, harvesters in Alaska have netted 71.3 million fish.
That includes 21.8 million reds, 42,000 kings, 427,000 chums and 2,000 pinks.
In Prince William Sound, the preliminary statistics show a harvest of 17.5 million salmon, including 12.6 million pinks, 3.2 million sockeyes, 1.6 million chums and 19,000 each of king and silver salmon.