Alaska’s total salmon catches are picking up, thanks to sockeye hauls at Bristol Bay where landings topped one million fish twice this week in some districts. A catch there by over 13-hundred boats was nearing 16 million salmon this week and catches are expected to remain strong at least through next week. A catch of nearly 36 million red salmon is expected at Bristol Bay this summer.
Most other sockeye regions have improved slightly but are generally lagging behind historical levels.
Copper River remains closed to fishing and no sockeye openers are scheduled at Chignik.
Catches of other salmon are mostly moderate to low in most Alaska regions and the fish appear to be running about a week late.
Kodiak had its first opener for pinks on July 6 and next week will give a better idea of run strength. Similar to reports from other regions, Kodiak pinks and sockeyes are smaller than past years.
Just over 2.5 million chums were landed so far with good catches at Prince William Sound and Kodiak, but lagging at Southeast and other regions.
Fishing for chums at Kotzebue opened on July 10 and forecasts are calling for good catches there.
A total harvest of 19.5 million chum salmon are projected for Alaska this year, down just slightly.
A Chinook salmon harvest that opened for trollers July 1 is likely to be a wrap by now. Trollers got a 51% increase in king summer salmon catches to 85,600 fish.
Through Wednesday the statewide salmon catch was nearing 23 million fish of which nearly 17.5 million were sockeyes. The remainder were mostly chums and pinks.
Alaska is projecting a total statewide salmon catch this year of 132 million fish, down 36 percent from 2019.
Switching to halibut – unlike other annual stock assessment surveys that were cancelled due to the Covid virus, eleven longline boats are out on the water through August. They will sample 898 stations down 30% from usual.
“We’re going to maintain sampling in the core regions where the vast majority of the stock resides. So while it’s important to still sample those peripheries, we still are going to be sampling about 74% of the known distribution and biomass of the stock so it’s going to be a particularly robust survey.”
David Wilson is director of the International Pacific Halibut Commission which oversees the stock from the west coast and British Columbia to the far reaches of the Bering Sea.
Survey areas skipped this year include waters off California, Oregon and Washington and stations off Vancouver Island. For Alaska, halibut areas in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands were cut and surveys at the Western Gulf also were reduced.
Data from the surveys show halibut growth, distribution, biomass, age and maturity.