A bountiful harvest of sockeye and pink salmon far exceeding forecasts is being delivered by commercial fishermen to processors in Bristol Bay and Prince William Sound, and the fish just keep on coming.
Statewide, the preliminary harvest total on July 9 stood at 47,666,000 salmon, including nearly 28 million sockeyes, 16 million humpies, 3.7 million chum, 227,000 chinook and 196,000 coho.
In the famed Bristol Bay sockeye salmon fishery, which had a preseason harvest forecast of 16.86 million fish, harvesters had delivered in excess of 21 million fish.
“It’s early enough in the season so that we could see another good push of fish,” said Travis Elison, at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s office in King Salmon.
Through July 9, harvesters for the Naknek-Kvichak had delivered 10.3 million sockeyes to processors, including 1.1 million fish on July 3 and 1.2 million fish on July 4. Since July 4, daily harvests had dropped to under one million fish, and the catch could come back up or continue to decrease, Elison said.
Other Bristol Bay preliminary harvest totals through July 9 included 5 million reds for Egegik District, 5.2 million reds for the Nushagak, 89,000 for Togiak and 497,000 for Ugashik.
Some permit holders who had started in the Egegik district had moved on to the Naknek-Kvichak’s more abundant runs, so that the spread of permits being fished included 629 permits for the Naknek-Kvichak, 334 permits in the Nushagak, 309 permits for Egegik, 85 permits in the Ughsik and 61 permits for Togiak.
The seine fleet in Prince William Sound was hauling in so many humpies that Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologists were having a hard time keeping the harvest numbers updated, said Tommy Sheridan, the state’s area seine manager.
The pink salmon season catch through July 9 was nearing 14 million fish, compared with the preseason forecast of just under 13 million fish, and Sheridan said that including common property and hatchery cost recovery fish, biologists now expected the overall harvest to exceed 20 million humpies.
While the peak has passed for the Copper River district, drift fleet harvests had slowed but kept on coming, with 1.85 million sockeye, 42,000 chum, 10,000 kings and fewer than 1,000 pink and silver salmon delivered.
Cook Inlet’s harvest reached 639,000 salmon, up from 244,000 fish just a week earlier, mostly sockeyes harvested in the central district of Upper Cook Inlet.
The harvest for the Southeast region stood at 2.3 million salmon. On the Alaska Peninsula, the catch exceeded 2.5 million salmon, including 1.8 million reds, and at Kodiak, 1.4 million salmon, including 1.2 million reds, had been delivered to processors.