Salmon catches throughout the North Pacific remain near all-time highs, and Alaska’s take tops them all.
For 25 years the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission (NPAFC)has summarized abundances and catches of salmon as reported by its member countries – Canada, Japan, Korea, Russia, and the U.S. It tracks chums, cohos, pinks, sockeyes, Chinook and steelhead trout in the North Pacific, Bering Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk.
The Commission also provides the venue for coordinating research and enforcement activities.
For 2017, just over 460 million salmon weighing more than two billion pounds were caught in those waters, less than recent odd-year averages. Salmon catches tend to increase in odd-numbered years when pink salmon cycles tend to run higher.
The U.S. fleets caught more than any others – 53 percent of the total salmon catch, topping one billion pounds, with Alaska taking all but 22 million pounds of that.
Russia took 38 percent of the N. Pacific salmon last year (nearly 77 million pounds), with all other countries in single digit percentages.
Pink salmon made up the bulk of the commercial catch at 49 percent by weight, followed by chums at 29 percent and sockeyes at 19 percent.
Cohos made up 3 percent of the total catch, and Chinook salmon was 1 percent. Both cherry salmon and steelhead trout were less than one percent of the catch by weight.
The report said catch trends salmon for pinks and especially chums in Asia have been declining for 10 years with 2017 the lowest take since 2002.
The Commission also tracks releases of hatchery salmon and steelhead.
Member countries released just over 5 billion fish in 2017, similar to numbers over three decades. U.S. hatcheries released the most at 37 percent of the total, followed by Japan at 35 percent and Russia at 21 percent.
Chum salmon made up 64 percent of all hatchery releases, followed by pink at 25 percent, sockeyes at 5 percent and Chinook salmon at four percent.
Cohos, steelhead and cherry salmon hatchery were less than one percent of the releases.