Alaska’s 2018 salmon harvest is projected at 149 million fish, down 34 percent from last year’s take of 226 million. The shortfall stems from lower projections for pink salmon returns.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is forecasting a total pink salmon harvest of just over 70 million, down by half from last year’s nearly 142 million humpies last year.
For sockeye salmon, a statewide catch of about 52 million is down a couple million fish from 2017, which was the 5th largest red salmon catch since 1970.
By far, most of the sockeyes will come from Bristol Bay’s nine river systems where a harvest of 37.5 million would be down by more than a million from last year. That’s still well above the 10 and 20 year averages for the Bay.
Alaska’s chum salmon catch last year of 25 million also was the largest in 47 years. This year’s catch is expected to produce 21 million chums, down by nearly four million.
The 2018 coho catch is pegged at 5.8 million, nearly 600,000 more silvers than last season.
For Chinook salmon, the forecast calls for a catch of 99,000 kings in areas outside of Southeast Alaska, where the numbers are determined by treaty with Canada.
Some other salmon highlights:
At Copper River, where Alaska’s salmon season officially gets underway in mid-May, catches of 19,000 Chinook and 1.2 million are projected.
The South Peninsula sockeye harvest is predicted at 1.5 million reds.
At Upper Cook Inlet a sockeye catch of 1.9 million is below the 20 year average.
At Kodiak a weak 8.7 million pink salmon harvest is projected, compared to more than 27 million last year.
An average pink catch is predicted at Southeast in the range of 23 million down from nearly 35 million.
Managers say a source of uncertainty in Southeast Alaska stems from the unusually warm sea temperatures in the Gulf form 2013 through much of 2016 that may have caused reduced pink salmon survival.
Decent chum catches are expected at the Yukon, at Kotzebue and Norton Sound. No commercial openers are planned on the Kuskokwim again due to no buyers.
Once again, no commercial openers are planned at the Kuskokwim due to no buyers again. Decent chum and coho catches are projected for Norton Sound along with a half million or more chums at Kotzebue. And Yukon fishermen could see an above average chum return with a harvest topping one million fish.
Here’s where you’ll find a summary of last year’s salmon season and outlooks for 2018 —