Salmon stakeholders are still crunching the numbers from the 2018 season, which up front has two distinctions:  it ranks as one of the most valuable on record to fishermen at nearly $596 million, and at just over 114 million salmon, it’s one of the smallest harvests in 34 years.

A breakdown by the McDowell Group shows the sockeye harvest was the second most valuable in 26 years; the chum catch was the third most valuable since 1975.

The average ex-vessel, or dock price value per salmon in 2018 was $5.20 per pound, up more than $2 from 2017.

The average chinook salmon weighing 11.6 pounds earned fishermen nearly $70 per fish; the average sockeye was valued at $7.00 per fish.

The average salmon price paid to Alaska fishermen was 98-cents per pound.

Salmon fisheries in the Gulf of Alaska were mostly dismal this year and many scientists point to warmer waters affecting food chains and fish survival in the ocean.

For sockeyes, the most valuable salmon catch by far, excluding Bristol Bay, Alaska’s sockeye harvest was about 40 percent lower than the 10-year average. Prince William Sound’s sockeye harvest was nearly 50 percent lower; Cook Inlet was 60 percent lower; and Southeast was down about 45 percent.

Chignik was a low point with a take of just 128 sockeyes, down from nearly one million the previous summer. It was a different story further west, where Bristol Bay had its best sockeye seasons ever for catch and value; likewise, Norton Sound and Kotzebue had record salmon harvests, and the Yukon River produced the 4th best chum and coho catches ever.

Projections trickling in for 2019 foreshadow a lackluster salmon season — the forecast for Bristol Bay’s sockeye harvest at 26 million fish is down eight percent.

Southeast is looking at another bust for pinks. A harvest of just 18 million pink salmon is expected, half of the 10 year average and the lowest odd year catch since 1987. State managers said the “the impact of Gulf of Alaska temperatures is unknown and adds uncertainty to the pink salmon forecast.”

              Going on now!  Nov. 18-20, Seattle

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