Biologists with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game are predicting a run of 43 million pink salmon in Southeast Alaska in 2017, which would be just above the recent 10-year average of 39 million humpies.
The forecast was adjusted using peak June-July juvenile pink salmon catch-per-distance-trawled statistics provided by the NOAA Fisheries, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, Auke Bay Laboratories, state biologists said Nov. 7.
Department staff planned to be available at the Southeast Alaska Purse Seine Task Force meeting on Dec. 1 in Juneau to discuss the forecast and plan for the season.
NOAA has been conducting these surveys for more than 20 years in upper Chatham and Icy straits in northern Southeast Alaska.
Perhaps the largest potential source of uncertainty regarding the 2017 pink salmon return is the anomalously warm sea surface temperatures that have persisted throughout the Gulf of Alaska since the fall of 2013, biologists said. Pink salmon that went to sea in 2014 and 2015 returned in numbers well below expectation and pink salmon that went to sea in 2016, and are set to return in 2017, may have experienced similar conditions, the forecast report said.
The NOAA Auke Bay Laboratories have been using juvenile pink salmon catch and associated biophysical data to forecast adult pink salmon harvest in Southeast Alaska since 2014. The 2017 NOAA forecast is online at http://www.afsc.noaa.gov/ABL/EMA/EMA_PSF.htm
ADF&G forecasts have been adjusted using NOAA’s juvenile pink salmon data since 2007. Although the forecast performance was relatively poor over the past three seasons, overall performance since 2007 is much improved over forecasts made prior to 2007 and recent forecasts have performed better than naïve forecasting models, biologists said.
The 2017 commercial purse seine fisheries will be managed in-season based on the strength of salmon runs.