Port Graham Hatchery in Cook Inlet


Salmon that got their start in Alaska hatcheries are maintaining a decade long trend of comprising one third of the statewide catch.

In 2018, a hatchery harvest of 39 million salmon – mostly chums and pinks – was 34 percent of the total take, valued at $176 million to Alaska fishermen.

Forty one million adult salmon returned to Alaska’s 29 hatcheries last year, shy of the 54 million fish forecast, and below the 61 million 10 year average.

That’s according to the 2018 salmon enhancement report released last week by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Prince William Sound is Alaska’s largest hatchery salmon producer and last year’s catch of 19 million fish accounted for 76 percent of the region’s total catch, and 75 percent of the value to fishermen at $65 million.

Southeast is the second biggest hatchery producer.  The 2018 catch of about 8 million fish was 46 percent of the region’s harvest, and 59 percent of the value to fishermen at $63 million. $53 million of that was from chums.

At Kodiak, just under four million fish from two hatcheries made up 42 percent of the Island’s total catch last year. The fish were valued at $7 million, 25 percent of the salmon fishery’s value.

At Cook Inlet, a catch of just over half a million hatchery salmon accounted for 26 percent of the total harvest and 30 percent of the dockside value of $5.3 million. About 70 percent of those fish were pinks.

About 1.8 billion tiny salmon were released to the sea last year from pink and chum salmon eggs collected in 2017, and from Chinook, sockeye, and coho eggs collected in 2016.

Alaska hatchery operators forecast a return of about 79 million fish in 2019.  This includes returns of 54 million pink, 21 million chum, 2.5 million sockeye, 1.5 million coho, and 109,000 king salmon.