Alaska’s wild salmon harvest rose by more than 10 million fish from July 13 through July 20, to reach the 50 million fish mark, including nearly 31 million sockeye salmon. The bulk of the red salmon catch was harvested in the Bristol Bay watershed, including a cumulative total of more than 10 million reds in the Naknek-Kvichak district, now quiet as harvesters depart for other fisheries.
The Copper River harvest now stands at 1.8 million salmon, a small increase over the previous week, and includes some 1,783,000 reds, plus some 29,000 chum and 12,000 kings. While the fresh Copper River reds are now long gone, Copper River Seafoods, one of several processors of those reds, has joined other marketers of Alaska’s wild salmon online, with gift packages of smoked sockeye salmon fillets on www.Amazon.com, in addition to its own website, www.copperriverseafoods.com
Cook Inlet’s wild salmon harvest rose from 460,000 fish to 1.4 million over the same week ended July 20, with the sockeye salmon harvest alone jumping from 433,000 to 1.3 million reds, but the commercial East Side setnet fleet was basically shut down by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in an effort to protect king salmon swimming up that side of Cook Inlet.
Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell has already asked for a federal disaster declaration related to Yukon and Kuskokwim Chinook salmon stocks, and noted in that request there is a similar trend on Cook Inlet stocks. Parnell said in the fall, when the season’s fishery return data is in, he intends to send a follow-up letter to federal authorities to support the disaster declaration request.
Parnell said he has also called for a state Department of Fish and Game comprehensive fisheries research plan. Parnell said he has already requested millions of federal dollars for Chinook salmon research but this was above and beyond that earlier request.
On the Lower Yukon River, a strong run of fall Yukon chums boosted the cumulative harvest from 176,000 to 285,000 fish, but that didn’t make up for the lost harvest during the summer run, when commercial fishermen had to wait to begin fishing until the required number of kings had escaped upstream, heading toward the Canadian border.
In Southeast Alaska, the cumulative catch doubled to 5.6 million salmon, including 4.3 million chum, 595,000 pink, 318,000 red, 232,000 silvers and 132,000 kings.
On the Alaska Peninsula the harvest edged up slightly to 3.3 million fish, including 2.5 million sockeyes, while at Kodiak the cumulative harvest rose from 1.6 million to 2.2 million salmon, including 1.4 million sockeyes.