Alaska salmon that got their start in hatcheries made up 25 percent of last year’s total catch.
In 2019, roughly 50 million hatchery salmon were caught by fishermen, mostly pinks and chums, valued at $118 million, or 18% of the state’s total salmon harvest value.
That’s according to the annual salmon enhancement report by the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game.
Currently there are 30 hatcheries producing salmon in Alaska, of which 26 are operated by private, nonprofits. ADF&G also operates two sport fish hatcheries, one in Anchorage and one in Fairbanks. The federal government runs a research hatchery near Sitka, and the Metlakatla Indian tribe also operates a hatchery.
At Prince William Sound, where most of the hatchery fish call home, 31 million salmon were caught last summer valued at about $64 million, or 56% of the total dockside value. Nearly 83% were chums, 61% were pink salmon and 34% were sockeyes.
For Southeast Alaska, the second largest hatchery region, fishermen harvested about 6.5 million hatchery fish valued at $32 million, or 37% of the region’s landings value. Chum salmon contributed $24 million of that total.
Kodiak has the third highest hatchery production and last year about 3.4 million hatchery salmon were caught last year, nearly all pinks. The value to fishermen was about $5 million, or 11% of the total dockside value for Kodiak fishermen.
The three hatcheries in Cook Inlet produce primarily sockeye and pink salmon. About 42,000 hatchery-produced salmon were harvested there last year for a total of about $2 million, or nine percent of the value in the region.
About 1.7 billion tiny salmon were released by Alaska hatcheries in 2019.
Hatchery operators forecast a total return of about 52 million salmon in 2020 including 35 million pinks, 13 million chums, 2.2 million sockeyes, 1.2 million cohos, and 100,000 Chinook salmon.