It’s hard to believe but Alaska’s 2019 salmon season officially gets under way in just two weeks!
The first opener for sockeyes and kings at the Copper River near Cordova is set for the week of May 12 where the 500 plus drift fleet is hoping to catch just under 800-thousand reds and 31-thousand king salmon this summer.
Last year’s Copper River fishery totaled 13-thousand kings and just 47-thousand sockeyes, 97 percent below the 10 year average and the second lowest harvest in 100 years.
Salmon openers in other regions will quickly follow and an Alaska catch topping 213 million fish is projected, a hundred million more than last year. That’s due to big boosts expected for pink and chum salmon.
State fishery managers peg the overall catch breakdown at just under 42 million sockeyes, about 9 million fewer than last year. For pinks, a haul of nearly 138 million would be 97 million more humpies.
A coho salmon harvest of 4.6 million would be an increase of 900,000 silvers. Chums could set a record catch of 29 million, nine million more than last year.
For kings, a harvest is pegged at 112-thousand in areas outside of Southeast Alaska, where catches are set by treaty with Canada. The Southeast take will be 137,500 kings for all users.
Turning to herring – Alaska’s biggest fishery at Togiak in Bristol Bay closed April 26 after 10 days of fishing. A fleet of 19 seiners and three gillnetters took 22,310 tons in the earliest fishery ever. Prices for the roe herring are again expected to be around $100 per ton.
Finally, when millions of fish flood small towns with only a few thousand residents or less, lots of workers are needed to ready the fish for shipping out to customers around the worl
The state Dept. of Labor has a call out for 4,000 full time seasonal seafood workers and hopes to hire as many Alaskans as possible.
Alaskans make up less than 25 percent of the processing workforce and the state hopes to recruit residents before looking Outside.