Alaska’s salmon season is off to a slow start but managers caution it’s way too soon to draw any conclusions.

Starting in mid-May, after four short openers the Copper River fishery was a bust with fewer than 70,000 sockeyes taken.

On a marketing note: the reduced catch fetched record prices for the first delivery of salted sockeye salmon roe in Japan.  SeafoodNews.com reported that the roe sold for $47.75 to $51.43 per pound depending on grade. That’s 36% higher than last year.

Elsewhere, Prince William Sound was especially slow with sockeye and Chinook landings down about 80% from the same time last year, and 70% lower than the 5-year average. Conversely, seine harvests of chum in the Sound were nearly double the 5-year average.

Cook Inlet fishing was slow compared to last year, but nearly equal to the 5-year average. Kodiak also was off to a slow start along with Alaska Peninsula & Area M, the Aleutian Islands.

In Southeast, trollers continue to target kings and other salmon gears will be out on the water throughout the month.

And all eyes will be on Bristol Bay in coming weeks to see how the sockeye run comes in. A catch of 36 million reds is projected there.

In all, Alaska is projecting a total statewide salmon catch this year of 132 million fish, down 36 percent from last year.  The decline stems from a much lower forecast of those hard to predict pinks of just over 60 million fish, down nearly 53 percent.

For sockeyes, a catch topping 48 million compares to 55.5 million reds taken last year, a 13 percent drop.

A catch of 4.2 million coho salmon is expected, a 300,000 fish increase. For chums, a catch of 19.5 million would be a slight drop of 100,000 fish.

For Chinook salmon, the take is pegged at 320,000.

The weekly salmon harvest update comes is produced by the McDowell Group for the Alaska Salmon Marketing Institute.

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