Fish Radio

Hatcheries produce one-third of AK salmon catch and value

April 5, 2016

Kitoi Bay hatchery at Kodiak, Mop Up Derby Credit:

Kitoi Bay hatchery at Kodiak, Mop Up Derby

This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – More than a third of Alaska’s salmon catch is fish heading home to their hatcheries. More after this –

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Each year more than one third of Alaska’s salmon catch includes fish that started out in hatcheries.   It’s very different from fish farming, where salmon are crammed into nets or pens until they’re ready for market.

In Alaska’s salmon enhancement program – which began in the early 1970s  in response to low statewide runs –  all salmon originate as eggs from wild stocks, and are released as fingerlings to the sea. In the state’s 29 hatcheries operating today, most of the home grown fish are pinks and chums.

The 2015 salmon season produced the 2nd highest on record at 264 million –  it was also the 2nd highest catch for hatchery stocks at 93 million fish. The exvessel, or dockside, value of the hatchery harvest was $125 million, nearly 30 percent of the total statewide price tag.

Pink salmon accounted for 47 percent of the value of the hatchery harvest, followed by chum salmon at 31 percent, sockeyes at 17 percent, cohos at 3 percent and Chinook salmon made up two percent of the hatchery harvest value.

By far, most of Alaska’s hatchery production is in Prince William Sound, where pink and sockeye salmon are the primary species. Last year’s 74 million hatchery harvest was worth nearly $80 million of the Sound’s total dockside value, or 67 percent.

Southeast ranks second for hatchery production, primarily chum and coho salmon.  About 11 million hatchery fish were caught in Southeast last year, worth about $37 million, or 42 percent of the total exvessel salmon value for the region.

Kodiak’s two hatcheries produced over 5 million pink salmon last season, valued at $4.5 million, or 12 percent of the total exvessel value.

At Cook Inlet, about 2.4 million hatchery sockeyes were caught, valued at more than $3 million, or 10 percent of the fishery value.

Nearly 150 Alaska schools – K through 12 – participate in hatchery egg take and salmon release programs.

This year nearly 63 million hatchery produced salmon are projected to return home to Alaska.

Find a link to the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game’s Alaska Salmon Enhancement report at our website –

Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods.  Ocean Beauty has contributed over 10 million meals to the U.S. Food Bank network, and is committed to ending hunger in America.  In Kodiak I’m Laine Welch.