Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Weak Run of Pink Salmon Predicted for Southeast Alaska

Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) biologists are forecasting a weak run of pink salmon into Southeast Alaska in 2019, with a point estimate of 18 million fish.

The 2019 forecast is based on juvenile pink salmon abundance indices collected with support of NOAA’s long-term Southeast Coastal Monitoring Project in northern Southeast Alaska inside waters in June and July.

The harvest forecast is about half of the recent 10-year average harvest of 36 million pink salmon. A harvest near this forecast would be the lowest odd-year harvest since 1987, according to biologists. The 2018 peak June-July juvenile pink salmon index value ranked 20th out of the 22 years that SECM information has been collected.

A potential source of uncertainty in the 2019 pink salmon return is the anomalously warm sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Alaska. Warm temperatures that persisted throughout the Gulf from the fall of 2013 through much of 2016 were back in 2018. Pink salmon that went to sea from 2014 to 2016 returned in numbers below expectation and below recent odd-and-even year averages.

Although sea surface temperatures moderated in 2017, effects on the Gulf ecosystem likely persisted and pink salmon that went to sea in 2017 and returned in 2018 had a reduced rate of survival.

ADF&G plans to manage the 2019 commercial purse seine fisheries in-season based on the strength of salmon runs. Aerial escapement surveys and fishery performance data will be used as always to make in-season management decisions.

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