Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wild Salmon Harvest at 71 Million Fish, With Pinks Coming In

Alaska’s wild salmon harvest for the 2012 season stood at 71.3 million fish in early August, up 12.6 million fish over the previous week’s survey, but well below the projected harvest of 132.1 million fish.
But the salmon fisheries, pink salmon in particular, have a ways to go, says Geron Bruce, deputy director of commercial fisheries for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

“It can happen fast with pink salmon,” Bruce said in an interview Aug. 7, referring to the fisheries in Prince William Sound, Kodiak and Southeast Alaska.

The pink salmon numbers are looking like the forecast, he said. “They are looking decent, maybe a little bit stronger. It is down from the five-year average and down from last year, but we expected that going into the season.”

Sockeye harvests are also down a bit, but not that far off from last year, and the chum harvest is actually looking pretty good, he said. As for pink salmon, “we are just hitting our stride,” he said.

Harvest totals compiled by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game through Aug. 3 showed a total of 34,305,000 sockeyes, 22,405,000 pink, 13,512 chum, 881,000 coho and 204,000 Chinook salmon delivered to processors. The biggest jump came in pink salmon harvests in Southeast Alaska, where the catch of pinks rose from 1.2 million to 3.4 million fish.

State biologists said earlier they expected 2012 harvest of some 132.1 million salmon of all species, a decrease in commercial salmon caught in 2012 due to the projected decrease in pink salmon harvests. The projection was to include 120,000 Chinook salmon in areas outside Southeast Alaska, 38.4 million sockeye salmon, 4.3 million coho salmon, 70.2 million pink salmon and 19.1 million chum salmon.

The projected sockeye harvest was about 4 percent lower than the harvest of 2011, and the projected chum harvest was expected to be 12 percent higher than that of the 2011 chum harvest.

Of the 204,000 kings caught commercially statewide through Aug. 3, only 65,000 of them had been netted outside of Southeast Alaska.

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