Winter crabbing in the Bering Sea

A preliminary wrap up of Alaska’s 2020 salmon fishery shows that communities will be hurting in terms of fish tax revenues this coming year. The value of salmon landings is down by half or much more in every region of Alaska, compared to 2019.

The total Alaska catch of just under 117 million salmon was down 44%  and the value that barely topped $295 million was a 56% decrease, when adjusting for inflation the lowest value since 2006.  Looking ahead, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game predicts a run topping 51 million sockeye salmon will return to Bristol Bay in 2021, meaning the fishery will average over 48 million reds annually for the past 10 years. The catch is pegged at 36.35 million fish.

Elsewhere, trollers in Southeast Alaska continue fishing for  winter Chinook salmon.

A few areas remain open for pot shrimp and the harvest has reached 540,670 pounds.

Divers also continue pulling up geoduck clams and they’ve taken 1.2 million pounds of sea cucumbers out of a 1.7 million pound catch limit.

The Dungeness fishery at Southeast is ongoing through November 30. So far nearly 200 crabbers have landed a total of 6.4 million pounds in the combined summer and fall fisheries. The price of $1.68/lb is  down from $2.97 last season.

A sea cuke fishery at Kodiak and the westward region has a small quota of 165,000 pounds. A herring food and bait fishery opened on Nov. 14 at Kodiak with a 319 ton limit.

A 52,500 pound Lingcod fishery just wrapped up at Cook Inlet.

Pollock fishing is a wrap in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska until next January 20 and most cod fishing is also over for the year.

Bering Sea crabbers have taken 98% of their red king crab quota of 2.38 million pounds. They also are tapping on over 2 million pounds of Tanners and more than 6 million pounds of golden king crab.

Finally, the Pacific halibut fishery ended on November 15 and early estimates peg Alaska’s take at about 16 million pounds, just shy of the region’s 17.1 million pound catch limit.

Today and Thursday the International Pacific Halibut Commission is holding its interim meeting online and all documents, including the summer survey results, are posted.  The deadline to submit regulatory proposals is December 26 for the January 25-29 virtual meeting when the halibut catch limits for 2021 will be set.

Catches for Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska fisheries also will be revealed when the North Pacific Fishery Management Council meets virtually from Nov. 30 to December 12.