Alaska’s statewide salmon catch is approaching 131 million fish with pinks and sockeyes making up 90 percent of the total.
While the statewide 2019 sockeye harvest is on track to be the fourth largest on record – thanks to a 43 million fish haul at Bristol Bay – with a few exceptions, catches for all other salmon are lagging in most regions.
Statistical week number 32 is an important point as it often marks the peak or drop off point of some species.
In a typical year, three percent of the annual sockeye harvest occurs after week 32 and productive catches were still reported at Kodiak, Cook Inlet, the Alaska Peninsula and the Aleutians.
Chignik has also finally seen some fishing for reds and pinks, with a catch so far topping one million.
This is typically the peak week for pink catches, but the statewide catch of nearly 64 million is down by about one third from two years ago.
Pink catches are good at Kodiak and the Alaska Peninsula but down 68 percent at Cook Inlet, down 49 percent at Prince William Sound and down 58 percent at Southeast.
Likewise, chum, or keta, catches are down by about 20 percent from last year, except at Prince William Sound where they’re ahead of the 2018 pace.
Managers had predicted a record chum catch for Alaska this year of nearly 30 million fish. The tally so far is about 11.5 million. There’s hope of a repeat of last year when 30 percent of the chum harvest took place after statistical week 32.
Besides the bust at Chignik, Southeast’s salmon harvest this summer is the most dismal fish story.
Pink catches there of just over 11 million are down 58 percent from 2017 and chum catches of about 3 million are down 59 percent. Both the Southeast pink and chum fisheries were expected to produce around 18 million salmon this summer.
There’s still lots of fishing left to go for cohos but so far production is about a third lower than last year and roughly half the five-year average.
The Chinook harvest so far of 191,000 fish is nine percent lower than the YTD 2018 volume.
State managers predicted a statewide catch of 213 million salmon for Alaska this year of which 57 percent has been taken so far.
Many are blaming very warm waters for disruptions in many of Alaska’s salmon runs this summer.
Our salmon updates come from the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute and McDowell Group.