Commercial salmon harvests in Alaska are off to a slow start in the 2020 season, with year-to-date statewide landings at just over three million fish – the lowest in at least 12 years.
Still while some areas have been late to open or are much lower than historical averages, recovery from early season weakness can happen quickly as key fisheries come online, says Garrett Evridge, an economist with the McDowell Group. For example, said Evridge, a single strong week in Bristol Bay can produce multiples of the entire statewide May and June harvest.
Sockeye landings of some 640,000 fish are 75 percent lower than the same time in 2019, by which time more than 2.5 million fish had been harvested.
All regions are slow against prior years, with Prince William Sound down sharply. Through June 23, the total catch for Prince William Sound was 759,000 fish, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s blue sheet- the preliminary catch report.
Keta production is also weaker than last year with the current harvest about half of that of 2019. Prince William Sound is the main keta-producing region right now, in addition to Kodiak, which is only 9 percent behind last year. Meanwhile the Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian Islands region is up by 11 percent from last year.
Evridge also notes that due to strong landings in the Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian Islands that the pink salmon harvest is well above that for the same period in 2018.
Chinook landings are 48 percent lower year-to-date, due to slow Prince William Sound harvests. In most years, slowing Prince William Sound Chinook catch is offset by stronger harvests in the June/July timeframe in Southeast Alaska and Bristol Bay.
Evridge produces the in-season weekly commercial salmon harvest reports on behalf of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.
ADF&G produces daily updated preliminary Alaska commercial salmon harvest reports online at https://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=commercialbyfisherysalmon.bluesheet.
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