Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Alaska Wild Salmon Harvest Reaches 112 Million Fish

Preliminary counts based on processor reports show that Alaska’s commercial fleets have caught more than  112 million salmon of all species so far this season.

Through Aug. 24, processors reported a total harvest of 59,053,000 pink, 35,057,000 sockeye, 16,322,000 chum, 1,729,000 silver and 235,000 king salmon.

The increase over the previous week was just 4,3 million pink, 586,000 chum, 300,000 silver, 118,000 reds and 18,000 Chinook salmon.

In Southeast Alaska, the overall harvest of pink salmon rose from 15.8 million to more than 18 million fish. The pink salmon harvests in Southeast’s purse seine fishery peaked during the Aug. 6-7 fishing period at 3.5 million fish, but since have declined to 1.7 million fish during the Aug. 18-19 fishing period, biologist said. Still the preseason harvest forecast of 17 million pink salmon has been exceeded with an all-gear harvest of 18 million fish and biologists were anticipating a final harvest of about 23 million fish by the season’s close.

Through Aug. 22, the cumulative harvest from the Copper River stood at 1.86 million reds, compared with a harvest forecast of 1.23 million fish for that date, but the cumulative coho salmon harvest from the Copper River district was 21,400 fish, which is below the forecast of 92,700 fish through that date.
At Kodiak, the humpy harvest rose from 13.9 million to 15.7 million fish, and was slowing down. Kodiak management area’s sockeye salmon commercial harvests stood at 1.9 million fish, which is below average for this date, biologists said.

As one Alaska Fish and Game Department biologist in Cordova put it, things have slowed down and not too much is happening. Many boats have stood down and many processors have stopped buying fish. Hatcheries meanwhile are in the process of collecting brood stock and doing egg takes for the next season.

On the Lower Yukon, Kwik'Pak Fisheries, a subsidiary of the Yukon Delta Fisheries Development Association, is seeing a strong run of fall chum salmon, which are about a pound bigger than the summer chums, but down on the overall chum harvest. The summer harvest was delayed by state fisheries officials to allow for escapement of king salmon moving up the river.

As of Aug. 24, preliminary state statistics showed a Lower Yukon River harvest of 453,000 chum and 48,000 silver salmon. The coho harvest is somewhat lower than a year ago, due to a weaker run.

What’s new at Kwik'Pak this year is more fish are being filleted and frozen at Emmonak and shipped out by boat to Dutch Harbor, from there they can be transported to Seattle for domestic markets, as well as to Europe. Kwik'Pak also processes headed and gutted chums and silvers for domestic markets.

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