AK Dept. of Fish and Game Press Release: October 16, 2015
Contacts: Forrest Bowers, Acting Director, (907) 465-6139
2015 Alaska Preliminary Commercial Salmon Harvest and Exvessel Values
(Juneau) — The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) has compiled preliminary figures for the 2015 commercial salmon harvest and harvest value. The total 2015 statewide commercial salmon harvest was 263.5 million fish, and was comprised of 474,000 Chinook salmon, 15.2 million chum salmon, 3.6 million coho salmon, 190.5 million pink salmon, and 54 million sockeye salmon. Overall, this represents the second largest salmon harvest on record, and was exceeded only by the record harvests of 2013. Pink and sockeye salmon returns were especially strong; the number of harvested pink salmon came close to the 2013 record year, and sockeye salmon harvests are among the top 10 of all time.
“Alaska’s salmon fisheries represent an important economic engine for coastal communities and we are pleased how our salmon managers adapted to unusual run timing in 2015 allowing for sustainable harvest of large returns to many regions of the state,” said Acting Director Forrest Bowers, ADF&G Commercial Fisheries Division. “We are encouraged to see strong landings and escapement from the Arctic to Prince William Sound and are pleased that a number of depressed Chinook salmon stocks showed improved returns in 2015.”
The estimated value of the 2015 commercial salmon harvest was $414 million. Sockeye salmon held onto its position as the most valuable salmon species, with statewide harvests grossing approximately $198 million. A little less than half of the sockeye salmon value came from Bristol Bay, where the harvest was excellent but exvessel prices were 50% lower than last year, at $0.50 a pound. The statewide value of the pink salmon harvest was second among the salmon species, at $132 million. Chum, Chinook, and coho salmon, respectively, filled the remainder of the rankings.
This year’s title for the most valuable salmon fishing area in the state belongs to Prince William Sound, with an all-species harvest value of $118 million. In addition to $72 million in pink salmon, Prince William Sound sockeye salmon yielded an exvessel value of $35 million. Prince William Sound chum and Chinook salmon followed, with values of $8 million and $2 million, respectively. The Prince William Sound pink salmon harvest was the largest on record at 98.3 million fish, exceeding the 2013 harvest of 92.6 million. Wild pink salmon abundance is likely to break the previous record of 31 million fish.
The Bristol Bay inshore sockeye salmon run of 58 million fish is the second largest in the last 20 years and 12% above the forecast. The sockeye salmon harvest was 35.7 million fish. Despite the high harvests, exvessel value was below the most recent 20-year average at $94.8 million.
The Southeast Alaska all-species harvest of 46.2 million fish was valued at $89.3 million. The pink salmon harvest was lower than expected at 34.1 million fish, with a value of $26.2 million. The chum salmon harvest of 8.6 million was an improvement compared to 2014, with a value of $36.2 million.
In Norton Sound, the commercial harvest was the highest in over 30 years for chum salmon (147,000 fish), and was record setting for coho (154,000 fish) and sockeye salmon (4,000 fish). In Kotzebue, the chum salmon harvest of 307,000 fish is the third largest in the last 25 years and twelfth largest in 54 years.
In the Alaska Peninsula, the total harvest of 23.9 million salmon (all species) is the largest since 1995 and the second largest on record. Chinook salmon catches were considerably above average.
Pink salmon returns to Kodiak were strong, with a harvest of 33 million fish valued at $20.8 million. In Chignik, the sockeye salmon harvest of 1.5 million fish is above the 20-year average harvest and valued at $6.6 million.
In Lower Cook Inlet, the all-species harvest of 7.0 million salmon was the largest on record, and exceeded the previous record of 3.7 million salmon in 1981. The majority of the 2015 Lower Cook Inlet harvest was comprised of pink salmon (6.5 million). The total return of 6.3 million sockeye salmon to Upper Cook Inlet in 2015 is a slight improvement over the run in 2014. The Upper Cook Inlet sockeye salmon harvest was 2.6 million fish.
The Kuskokwim area had an all-species harvest of 234,000 fish with a value of $870,000. Kuskokwim River escapements of Chinook salmon were better than expected and have improved over recent years.
Chinook salmon returns on the Yukon River remained low, but improved somewhat over recent years and escapement goals were reached. The 2015 Yukon River total coho salmon return was strong, with a record commercial harvest of 130,000 fish.
For additional information see the 2015 Alaska preliminary commercial salmon harvest and exvessel values found on the ADF&G website.
Dollar values provided by ADF&G are based on estimated exvessel prices and do not include post-season bonuses or price adjustments. The final value of the 2015 salmon fishery will be determined in 2016 after seafood processors, buyers, and direct marketers report the total value paid to fishermen in 2015.