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Chinooks may be only blight in this year's wild Alaska salmon harvest

Margaret BaumanThe Cordova Times

A persistent commercial fleet caught nearly another two and a half million wild Alaska salmon in the second week of September, boosting the preliminary season harvest total to nearly 121 million fish.

While short of the 132 million fish forecast, it still ranks as a substantial harvest, including 65,660,000 humpies, 35,317,000 sockeye, 17,042,000 chum, 2,624,000 coho and 290,000 king salmon.

Fish aficionados in the Anchorage area still filling their freezers or hungering for fish on the barbecue were paying $5.95 a pound for whole sockeye and silver salmon and $9.95 a pound for whole Chinook salmon, at one popular seafood shop.

Frozen sockeye fillets were fetching $9.95 a pound in Anchorage, along with fresh silver fillets at $8.95 a pound, king fillets at $15.95 a pound and king steaks for $12.95 a pound.

Online purchasing options included the famed Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle, which was advertising fresh whole wild king salmon at $13.99 a pound and fresh wild king salmon fillets at $20.99 a pound. Pike's had whole wild coho salmon for $8.99 a pound and fresh wild coho salmon fillets for $14.99 a pound.

As for wild Alaska sockeye salmon, either whole or fillets -- forget it.

The Pike Place Fish Market was all sold out of them.

The preliminary harvest data as of Sept. 14, with one more week of data to go, showed the total preliminary Prince William Sound catch to be:

  • 26,250,000 humpies 
  • 3,666,000 sockeye 
  • 3,530 chum 
  • 166,000 silver 
  • 12,000 king salmon 

Of that total, the Copper River section produced 2,006,000 wild salmon, including:

  • 1.8 million sockeye 
  • 103,000 silvers 
  • 29,000 chum 
  • 12,000 kings 
  • 6,000 humpies

Those preliminary statistics compared with the 1.9 million wild salmon harvest total for the Copper River district the previous week.

The cumulative harvest for the Copper River through Sept. 12 was 1.86 million sockeye salmon, which compared with an anticipated harvest of 1.16 million reds.

The cumulative coho salmon harvest for the Copper River District was approximately 103,000 fish, which is below the anticipated catch of 149,700 fish through that date.

The cumulative coho salmon harvest from the Bering River District was about 34,200 fish, which is above the anticipated catch of 21,900 fish for that date.

State biologists said the cumulative harvest through Sept. 12 for the Coghill and Eschamy districts was 421,900 and 1.28 million sockeye salmon, respectively, and 2.42 million and 279,000 chum salmon, respectively.

The pink salmon harvest in the Coghill district by both purse seine and drift gillnet through Sept. 12 was about 3.25 million fish, which is below anticipated.

In the Prince William Sound purse seine fishery, no harvests had been reported since Sept. 8, and that fishery was expected to close on Sept. 19.

This article was originally published by The Cordova Times and is reprinted here with permission. Contact Margaret Bauman at mbauman(at)thecordovatimes.com