Slowly but surely, the 2015 wild Alaska salmon harvest has grown to nearly 23 million fish, including an estimated 15.5 million sockeyes. Deliveries to processors through July 7 also included more than 4 million humpies, 3.2 million chums, 142,000 silvers and 133,000 Chinook salmon.
According to Jeff Regnart, the state’s director of commercial fisheries, red salmon harvested in the Copper River, Cook Inlet and Bristol Bay are all undersized by age.
Those are not the numbers nor the size of red salmon that harvesters were expecting to see by now, particularly in Bristol Bay, where the preseason forecast issued back in November was for some 54 million sockeyes – the biggest run of red salmon in 20 years, and a harvest of 38.5 million reds. Harvesters in the Bristol Bay fishery, renown for its red salmon, had delivered a little over 10 million fish to processors through July 7, and 9.8 million of them were sockeyes.
Harvesters in the Egegik District of Bristol Bay had delivered upwards of 3.4 million reds, but many of them will likely end up in cans. Because they are not big enough for the fillet market.
“The reality is we’re going to get what we get,” said Kodiak harvester Shawn Dochtermann, in a telephone interview from aboard his Bristol Bay drift gillnetter. “Time will tell.”
The Alaska all-species salmon harvest for 2014 totaled 157.9 million, or about 25.3 million fish more than the preseason forecast of 132.6 million fish. Then came the forecast of a catch this season of 220.9 million fish, including 54,000 Chinook salmon in areas outside of Southeast Alaska and Bristol Bay, 58.8 million sockeyes, 4.6 million silvers, 140.3 million humpies and 17.2 million chum salmon.
Officials with the University of Washington Fisheries Research Institute were in Dillingham working on an updated in-season report, expected out later today.
On July 6, based on current catch and escapement information for the Naknek-Kvichak District, state biologists lowered the projected total run for the Kvichak River from the harvest forecast of 7.12 million reds to 4.7 million.
The Prince William Sound harvest total of 6.9 million fish was made up of 2.3 million reds, 2.9 million pink, 1.7 million chums, 23,000 kings and 14,000 silver salmon.
The Alaska Peninsula catch has reached 2.8 million fish, including nearly 2 million reds, while at Kodiak the harvest of 720,000 salmon including 448,000 reds.
Cook Inlet harvesters have delivered to processors 388,000 salmon, including 336,000 sockeyes.
The good news on the Lower Yukon River, home of those oil rich keta salmon, is that while the harvest is a bit behind last year’s record harvest, those being harvested are all of normal size.