A new forecast for pink salmon in Southeast Alaska in 2012 has the harvest coming in at some 17 million pinks, well below the recent 10-year average of 40 million pinks, but equal to the average harvest over the past three even years.
In the season just past there was a record run of pink salmon in northern Southeast Alaska, with nothing much going on in the southern part of Southeast.
State biologists say there are two primarily reasons to expect that the coming year’s harvest will be smaller than average. First, although biological escapement goals were met in the parent year, 2010, escapement indices were below average on inside waters north of Sumner Strait, state biologists said. Management targets for pink salmon were not met in four districts, and at a finer scale, for 7 of 24 pink salmon stock groups in that area.
The federal fisheries laboratory operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration at Auke Bay continues to conduct research that has greatly improved the state’s ability to forecast pink salmon harvest in Southeast Alaska, and state forecasts using NOAA’s juvenile pink salmon data were much proved over previous forecasts, state officials said.
The department will manage the commercial purse seine fisheries in-season based on the strength of the salmon runs. Aerial escapement surveys and fishery performance data will continue to be essential in making in-season management decisions, biologists said.