Humpies proved a deciding factor in Alaska’s 2013 commercial salmon harvest of 272 million fish valued at $691.1 million.
Powered by a record harvest of 219 million pink salmon, this year’s harvest ranks as the second most valuable on record, said Jeff Regnart, director of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Division of Commercial Fisheries.
Preliminary harvest values released Oct. 10 by the state agency showed that at $691.1 million, the value of the 2013 harvest is only exceeded by the 1988 harvest value of $724 million.
“Our salmon managers across the state have done an excellent job of ensuring sustainability of our salmon stocks while optimizing fishing opportunity,” Regnart said. “We had an outstanding year over all, though some area’s returns did not allow for desired harvest levels. We are pleased that so many Alaskans are able to enjoy the economic benefit of our salmon resources.”
Values for the salmon fisheries are based on estimated ex-vessel prices and do not include post-season bonuses or price adjustments. The final value of the 2013 salmon fishery won’t be determined until after seafood processors, buyers and direct marketers report average prices paid to fishermen this year.
It is possible that after final prices are determined, the 2013 season, not accounting for inflation, could surpass 1988 as the most valued salmon harvest in history.
Sockeye salmon held its position as the most valuable salmon species harvested in Alaska’s commercial salmon fisheries, with a statewide value of $284 million. Almost half of those reds came from Bristol Bay, where the price was up even though the harvest was modest.
Bristol Bay, usually the most valuable salmon fishery in Alaska, fell to third place this year behind Southeast Alaska and Prince William Sound.
The humpy harvest meanwhile brought in $277 million.
Southeast Alaska and Prince William Sound also saw the largest pink salmon harvests ever recorded in their management areas, a total of just over 91 million fish for Prince William Sound and 89.2 million pinks in Southeast Alaska.
Southeast Alaska had the highest all-species harvest value of $219 million. In addition to the $124 million in pink salmon, Southeast chum and coho salmon yielded values of $43.6 million and $23.4 million respectively, and Southeast Alaska king salmon harvests were worth $17 million.
Kodiak and Chignik also did well, with all–species harvests worth $61 million and $23 million respectively, Regnart said. For the first time in several years, the Alaska Peninsula also had a good pink salmon harvest.
The Yukon and Kotzebue management areas had good chum returns, but Chinook salmon returns throughout the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim region were low again and provided no commercial fishing opportunities.
Upper Cook Inlet’s sockeye salmon harvest was just over half the forecast, and management restrictions on the sockeye fishery were required to conserve a small Chinook salmon return to the Kenai River.