Alaska’s total salmon catch is approaching 80 million fish of which more than half are sockeye salmon. The sockeye harvest has already blown past the 41 million forecast – over 35 million of the reds are from Bristol Bay – with more coming on there and elsewhere around the state.
Chum harvests also have increased significantly in Southeast, Prince William Sound, Kodiak and the Arctic-Yukon Kuskokwim region, with the statewide take approaching 13 million.
Kodiak’s chum catch is nearing one million, four times higher than usual for this time of year. That’s prompted Kodiak managers to call it the “year of the dog,” a nickname for chum salmon.
The total chum forecast for Alaska this year is 17 million and at this rate could easily be surpassed.
So far those hard to predict pinks are running ahead of last year’s dismal pace, but not as strong as in 2015. Pinks run in two year cycles and it’s too soon to tell if this summer’s catch will reach the 142 million preseason forecast.
The pink catch has topped 20 million with more than 13 million coming from Prince William Sound and there’s lots more to go across the state.
The biggest fish story of the year is the sockeye surge at Bristol Bay, which is turning out to be one of the most valuable fisheries in decades.
Buyers are paying $1.00 a pound, up from 76-cents last year, plus 15 cents extra for chilling and 5 – 10 cents more for bled and floated fish, meaning salmon that’s not smushed in the hold. So far the dockside value already is pegged at $50 to $60 million above last year.
Larger volumes are going out fresh to eager US markets, says fisheries economist Andy Wink with the McDowell Group.
“The number of U.S. grocery stores that are running ads and features on sockeye is up about 20 percent over last year. That’s a data point that backs up claims by retailers saying they’re really pushing sockeye hard during this fresh season. I think Kroger said that for the last few weeks it’s been their number one promotional item.”
Alaska’s total statewide salmon catch this year is projected to be 204 million fish, an increase of one million over last year.
Thanks to the assist from KDLG.