Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Wild Salmon Harvest in Alaska Nears 10 Million Fish

Statewide Alaska commercial deliveries of wild salmon pushed to nearly 10 million fish by June 30. It’s early yet, and while the sockeyes showing up are smaller than usual, the return of king salmon so far are better than in recent years, according to Forrest Bowers, deputy director of commercial fisheries for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

As of June 30, the state’s preliminary salmon harvest blue sheet showed that fishermen had delivered to processors some 6.5 million sockeyes, 2.1 million chums, 1.2 million humpies, 117,000 Chinooks and 74,000 silvers.

In the famed Copper River District the four-year-old sockeyes have been about 0.7 pounds lighter than average and five-year-old sockeyes have been about one pound smaller than average, biologists said. Water temperatures influence available forage and metabolic rates and thereby can influence the size of fish and survival rates, but the jury is still out on specifics of how the recent trend in higher than average sea surface temperatures has influenced these variables, according to Jeremy Botz, at ADF&G’s Cordova office.

For Prince William Sound, the estimated harvest now stands at 3.4 million fish, including 1.7 million reds and 1.2 million chums, plus 428,000 pinks, 23,000 kings and 11,000 cohos.

In Bristol Bay, processors have received more than 2.8 million salmon, including 2.6 million sockeyes, 173,000 chums and 42,000 kings, with most of the sockeyes being caught in the Egegik District.

Warmer weather on the Lower Yukon in western Alaska meant a slow start for harvesters using dip nets to catch keta salmon and avoid kings, so that treaty obligations for kings with Canada could be met. Then the weather cooled and the Lower Yukon harvest of those oil rich chums reached 169,000 fish.

The westward region catch now totals nearly 3 million fish, with deliveries of 1.9 million reds, 637,000 humpies, 269,000 chums, 50,000 silvers and 49,000 kings.

For the Alaska Peninsula, the harvest stands at 2.2 million fish, including 1.4 million sockeyes, 583,000 pinks, 182,000 chums, 44,000 kings and 18,000 silvers.

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