Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Alaska’s Commercial Salmon Season Gets Off to a Slow Start

The 2020 Alaska salmon season may be off to a slow start, but fisheries economist Garrett Evridge of the McDowell Group, in Anchorage, says it is too early to draw any conclusions.

In an average year less than 10 percent of the annual harvest occurs in May and June and Evridge notes that harvest typically expand modestly over the next two weeks before climbing sharply in early July.

Early season harvest figures for 2020 are below historical averages.

Preliminary harvest figures from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game through Tuesday, June 16, showed that commercial harvesters in Alaska had delivered some 440 thousand wild salmon, including 28,000 Chinook, 189,000 sockeye and 223,000 chum. The bulk of harvests to date have been in Prince William Sound, with a cumulative preliminary total harvest of 337,000 fish, including 222,000 chum, 111,000 sockeye and 4,000 kings. In Kodiak, processors have received some 17,000 sockeye and 1,000 chum salmon.

Prince William Sound is particularly slow, with sockeye and Chinook landings down about 80 percent from the same time a year ago, and 70 percent lower than the five-year average.

Seine harvests of keta salmon in Prince William Sound are running counter to this weakness with harvest roughly double the five-year average. Cook Inlet fishing is slow compared to 2019, but nearly equal to the five-year average, Kodiak likewise is off to a slow start along with Area M, the Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian Islands.

ADF&G biologists are projecting a harvest of 132 million salmon this year, a level similar to other even-numbered years. Humpy harvests are expected to be on the lower end of recent even numbered years. The projected sockeye harvest is below the five-year average, but higher than the 10-year average. Anticipated keta and coho harvests are nearly equal to the five-year average, and the anticipated production of 320,000 kings would represent a third year of increasing harvest if realized.

Updates on preliminary Alaska commercial salmon harvests are posted online at

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