Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Bristol Bay Harvest Nears 20 Million Salmon

What a difference a week makes.

From July 6 to July 13, Alaska’s wild salmon commercial harvest jumped from 22,249,000 to 38,937,000 fish, with the catch of sockeyes alone edging toward 27.5 million fish, and climbing.

In Bristol Bay, where the forecast was for a potential 2012 harvest of 21.76 million sockeye, the catch reached 19.4 million fish, including 18,979,000 reds, 380,000 chum and 14,000 kings.

Those still on the grounds July 16 said they were still getting a substantial number of sockeyes to deliver to the processors’ tenders, and the overall harvest could still top 20 million sockeyes.

Through July 13, the date the state issued its last Bristol Bay daily run summary for the season, the total sockeye run in the bay reached 26.9 million fish, compared with a forecast of 32.23 million fish, and the harvest reached 19.2 million reds, compared to the preseason forecast of 21.74 million reds.

On the Lower Yukon River, the harvest had reached 176,000 chum salmon by July 13.

“Once we got fishing, there were plenty of fish,” said Kwik’Pak’s Jack Schultheis. “But basically a million fish went by that were harvestable and that hurt. That’s what really took it out of us. If we could have fished on those chums, everything would be fine on economics. It was not being able to fish on those chums because of the low king returns,” he said. “Those one million fish that went by represent about $8 million to the economy of the Lower Yukon.”

“We basically put in $1 million instead of $8 million.”

Schultheis said he is hopeful that they can make up for the fish made unavailable during the summer run with the fall run of chum salmon, which began July 16.

In Prince William Sound, the Copper River catch rose slightly to 1,787,000 fish, including 1,746,000 reds, 28,000 chum and 11,000 king salmon. Counting other districts, Prince William Sound’s overall harvest stood at nearly 10 million salmon, including 3.3 million reds, 2.2 million chum, 4.4 million pink and 12,000 kings.

The harvest on the Alaska Peninsula, mainly the South Peninsula, rose to 3,034,000 salmon of all species, including some 2.296,000 sockeye, 452.000 chum, 275,000 pink and 9,000 kings.

At Kodiak the harvest rose to 1.5 million salmon, with the overall catch at 1,046 000 reds, 341,000 chum, 175,000 pink and 5,000 kings.

In Southeast Alaska, the harvest also rose significantly, to 2,738,000 fish, including 2,102,000 chum, 247,000 pink, 184,000 sockeye, 109,000 kings and 97,000 silvers.

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