Alaska News

Pink salmon haul sets Alaska record as processors struggle to keep up

Commercial harvest of wild pink salmon reached 163.5 million fish on Aug. 16, eclipsing the 2005 record of 161 million humpies, as Alaska seafood processors worked to deal with the massive volume of fish.

"It's a wild year," said Tom Sunderland, director of marketing for Ocean Beauty Seafoods in Seattle. "There's something about the Alaska salmon business. It's different every year and this year, this is the surprise.

"We are doing all we can to deal with this volume of fish, which is surprising and unprecedented. We are working as hard as we can to process this fish," he said.

The Alaska's Department of Fish and Game's preliminary Alaska commercial salmon harvest blue sheet put the total salmon harvest at 211 million fish, including 163.5 million pinks, 29 million reds, nearly 16 million chums, 2.5 million silver and 301,000 kings.

Sunderland said most pink salmon delivered to Ocean Beauty was being canned at Cordova, Kodiak, Alitak, Petersburg and Excursion Bay, but that Excursion Bay facilities also were producing fillets for retail markets. As of Aug. 16, Prince William Sound harvesters had delivered 77.7 million pink salmon to processors, while in Southeast Alaska, processors had received 61.9 million humpies from their fleets.

Geron Bruce, assistant director of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's Division of Commercial Fisheries, noted that harvesters in Prince William Sound have been catching humpies at the rate of 3 million a day and that Southeast Alaska fisheries were doing nearly as well. Bruce said strong harvest could very continue for the next two weeks.

Margaret Bauman is a reporter for The Cordova Times. Used with permission.