Alaskan salmon landings increased 61%, while villages in the Yukon River register lowest return of chum salmon on record
Most of the salmon caught today are pink salmon, with Prince William Sound exceeding 35 million humps, well above the projection of 25 million.
Catches of pink salmon at Kodiak have remained low at just over 3 million so far on a forecast of over 22 million.
The south-east saw a slight increase, with pink catches approaching 14 million of the 28 million forecast.
The pink salmon harvest typically peaks in mid-August, and the statewide catch was over 57 million of the 124 million bumps forecast for the season.
For chum salmon, the harvest remains gloomy, with Prince William Sound and the Alaska Peninsula being the only regions that follow catches well. State-wide catches had barely exceeded 6 million of the 15.3 million fish forecast.
Peak coho is usually in early September and harvests are increasing steadily, but at a rate less than half the five-year average. Just under 700,000 coho had crossed the Alaskan docks, or about 14% of the predicted catch of 3.8 million silver salmon.
Alaska sockeye catch of nearly 52 million to date has surpassed the forecasted 46.6 million. Over 40 million come from Bristol Bay and over 6 million from the Alaska Peninsula.
The statewide chinook harvest had reached 173,000, or 64% of the expected 269,000 kings.
Salmon sag – No region in Alaska has been hit harder by dismal salmon returns this summer than communities in the Yukon River, where the summer chum return of just 153,000 is the lowest on record.
“It’s really pretty scary for everyone. These descents are low enough that no one on the river is fishing for subsistence, so it’s very dismal. Everyone in the communities on full river drainage is feeling the hardships, ”Serena Fitka, director of the Yukon River Drainage Fisheries Association, told KYUK in Bethel.
Almost 10,000 pounds of chum and king salmon were donated by fishermen and processors in Bristol Bay with logistical help from SeaShare and Kwik’pak Fisheries in Emmonak to send salmon to 11 villages.
Kwik’pak, typically one of the top employers every summer, was only able to put a handful of people to work for a few days to help with distribution, said managing director Jack Schultheis.
Governor Mike Dunleavy also paid an additional $ 75,000 to buy more salmon from processors in Alaska for donations. The Tanana Chiefs Conference and the Association of Village Council Presidents are helping with the distribution.
More fish action – As always, there are many other fisheries in Alaska besides salmon.
To the southeast, approximately 160 crabbers will complete a two-month-long Dungeness crab fishery on August 15. State managers expect catches to exceed £ 2.25million with another opener slated for Oct. 1.
A sablefish fishery opens in the northern districts on August 15 for 73 shareholders with a catch of 1,137,867 pounds.
The Panhandle spot shrimp fishery remains open in some areas until August 30 with a harvest limit of 400,000 pounds.
In Prince William Sound, a sablefish fishery continues until August 30 with a catch limit of 208,000 pounds. Likewise, a ling cod fishery continues until the end of the year with a harvest of 32,600 pounds.
This has been slow for the Prince William Sound shrimp fishery which opened in April and was extended until September 15th. This catch limit is 70,000 pounds.
Kodiak’s Dungeness Crab trap catch approached 962,000 pounds by a fleet of 19 boats.
Crabbers are dropping pots for nearly 6 million pounds of golden king crab along the Aleutian Islands.
Alaska halibut landings are slightly higher than last year at this time, with nearly 9.9 million pounds crossing the docks on August 7. This is 53% of the catch limit of around 19 million pounds.
Halibut prices generally decline during the summer, but that is not the case this year and fishermen are hitting near or over $ 6 a pound at most ports. Payments at Homer were $ 7.25, $ 7.65, and $ 7.85 depending on the size of the halibut, with Seward buyers paying a penny less.
Sablefish (black cod) catches exceeded 19 million pounds, or 44%, of the quota of 43.4 million pounds. Homer was also paying the most for black cod with prices ranging from $ 1.10 for under two pounds to $ 6.25 for 7-ups with Sitka not far behind, according to the Fish Ticket by Alaska Boats and Permits in Homer.
Scallop fishing continued in the Yakutat regions of the Bering Sea where 345,000 pounds of shelled meats (the adductor muscle that keeps the shells closed) could be harvested this season.
Fishing continued for cod, flatfish, pollock and more in the Bering Sea. Pollock fishing will reopen for Gulf of Alaska trawlers on September 1.
Mariculture is money – Ninety new founding members have answered the call to help shape the new Alaska Mariculture Alliance, a private, non-profit successor to a five-year task force formed in 2016 by Governor Bill Walker. Their goal is to create a sustainable industry for the cultivation of shellfish and seaweed for the benefit of the economy and communities of Alaska.
The group represents a wide range of experienced producers to newcomers, said Julie Decker, executive director of the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation, which administered the task force and does the same for the AMA. It also includes representatives from Alaska Native businesses, salmon hatcheries, the Central Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association and the Aleutian Pribilofs Community Development Association.
In addition to stimulating shellfish aquaculture and seaweed cultivation, a priority will be to get the Alaska legislature to pass a bill to enable larger-scale shellfish enhancement that models the successful hatchery programs of state salmon.
“Efforts have been made to restore and improve king crab, geoduck clams, sea cucumbers and razor clams, but they are mostly at an experimental level. And they are not allowed to carry out larger scale projects until a regulatory framework is in place, ”explained Decker. “We are very close to passing the bill and we hope it will be one of the first bills picked up and crossed the finish line in the next session. Senator Stevens from Kodiak and Representative Ortiz from Ketchikan were very helpful in this regard. “
Policymakers are starting to talk more about the positive potential of mariculture in Alaska, Decker said, and she believes “we’ve come a long way,” as evidenced by several new hires at the state and federal government levels.
NOAA Fisheries hired Alicia Bishop as the very first Aquaculture Coordinator for the Alaska region, as well as Jordan Hollarsmith as the research manager, both based in Juneau. And the University of Alaska / Fairbanks has hired algae research specialist Schery Amanzor as a professor at its College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences to provide even more expertise.
The state also added two positions at the Ministry of Natural Resources to review new mariculture lease applications to reduce the backlog.
“They’ve now gone from an average review process of 572 days to 274 days,” Decker said.
There are 76 active aquatic farm and nursery permits in Alaska, plus 35 new pending applications that total more than 1,631.32 underwater acres. Only 28 producers are making sales so far.
WADA’s ultimate goal is to facilitate a $ 100 million mariculture industry by 2038 and many believe this is very prudent due to the growing demand, especially for algae.
The North American market for commercial seaweed will exceed $ 9.5 billion by 2026 due to increased consumption of commercial seaweed and demand from the pharmaceutical industry, while global revenues are expected to exceed $ 85 billion, predicts Global Market Insights, Inc.
Fish Boosters – The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute is seeking members for its advisory boards to help develop global strategies for the Alaska seafood brand. Committees include Salmon, Halibut and Sablefish, Whitefish and Shellfish, International Marketing, National Marketing, Communications, Client Advisory Committee and Seafood Technical Committee. The deadline to apply is September 24. Questions? Contact [email protected]/
August 13 is the deadline appoint small and medium seafood companies to help shape a new National Seafood Council. Six to eight seafood companies with annual revenues of less than $ 20 million will be selected for scholarships in cash based on their income. Apply at seanutrition.org/
The call is still in progress for candidates to fill a vacant seat on the State Fisheries Council. The vacancy stems from the rejection by the Alaska Legislature on May 13 of Governor Dunleavy’s appointment of Abe Williams as regional director of the Pebble mine.
According to Alaskan law, Dunleavy had to appoint a replacement within 30 days. Jeff Turner, deputy director of communications, said in an email that “the governor is taking longer to receive feedback from all stakeholders before making a selection” and that “he is committed to filling the sits before Fish’s next board meeting in October. “