North Pacific Anadromous Fisheries Commission includes five countries

Salmon catches throughout the North Pacific reached all-time highs in 2018, then dropped in 2020 to the lowest levels in four decades.

That’s according to the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission (NPAFC) which tracks salmon abundances and catches as reported by its five member countries – Canada, Japan, Korea, Russia, and the U.S.

The Commission also coordinates research and enforcement.

Based on 2020 commercial catches, Pacific salmon abundance at 322.5 million fish was the lowest since 1982 and compares to a total take that topped 563 million fish in 2019, and 651 million salmon in 2018.

Russia took 48% of the North Pacific salmon catch last year, followed by the U.S. at 41% with all but about 5 thousand tons coming from Alaska fishing fleets. Just 10% of the 2020 salmon catch was taken by Japan followed by Canada at 1% and less than that by Korea.

Pink salmon made up 46% of the five nations’ catches by weight, followed by chum at 27% and sockeye salmon at 23%. Cohos comprised 3% of the take, with Chinook salmon at less than 1%.

Pink salmon catches declined to just 392 million pounds in 2020 compared to more than 1.1 billion pounds in 2018.

Last year’s total harvest of chum salmon at under 300 million pounds compares to a 10 year average of more than 490 million pounds and resulted from lower catches by Japan and Russia.

The total North American salmon catch in 2020 of nearly 556 million pounds was the lowest since 1977.

That region’s sockeye catch of just over 236 million pounds compares to a five-year average of 294 million pounds.

For chum salmon, a catch of 67.3 million pounds dropped from nearly 223 million pounds taken in 2017.

The total combined salmon catch at Washington, Oregon, and California of 9.9 million pounds was the lowest in the Commission’s data base.

For salmon that got their start in hatcheries, releases by the five nations at about 5 billion fish have been stable since 1993.

The U.S. led with 39% of the total releases, or more than 2 million fish; 31% of the hatchery releases come from Japan (1,593 million), followed by Russia at 25% (1,287 million fish), 4% from Canada (209 million) and less than 1% (8 million) from Korea.

Of the combined hatchery releases 65% were chum salmon (3,299 million) and 25% were pinks (1,277 million).

That was followed by Chinook and sockeye releases at 4%, or 224 million and 187 million salmon, respectively.