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Good wild salmon harvest forecast in Southeast Alaska

Pink salmon capture. (Photo Credit: ASMI)
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Friday, July 17, 2015, 23:50 (GMT + 9)

About a month after the purse seine season started, pink salmon started to appear in Southeast Alaska and an excellent harvest of 58 million fish is expected.
“It is early, typically by, we’re in statistical week 29 and typically we’ve only seen about on average still only about five per cent of the harvest in Southern Southeast Alaska and maybe eight or nine per cent in northern Southeast,” stated Andy Piston, pink and chum salmon project leader for Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) in the region.
“So it’s very early but so far things look pretty good in northern Southeast but it’s been a little bit slow in southern Southeast so far,” Piston added.
In several areas of Southeast seine boats have been testing fishing according to contracts signed with ADF&G and this year’s results have been “mixed” with some weeks around average for pink numbers and other weeks below average.
Referring to these results, Piston explained that although early indications of the run strength were strong, warmer-than-normal ocean temperatures in the Pacific may affect pink salmon survival.
“We know a lot of juvenile pink salmon were moving out into the ocean but so far it looks like from what we’re seeing from the adult returns, it looks like survival rates may have been quite a bit lower than average out there in the ocean this year,” Piston stressed.
Meanwhile, catches of wild Alaska salmon jumped from an estimated total of 20.3 million fish on 7 July to 53.5 million fish on 14 July 1, lifting the spirits of harvesters in what has been a disconcerting season.
As to sockeye salmon, ADF&G biologists noted that the late run of the run into Bristol Bay was showing strength, along with an increase in the average size of the sockeyes.
"The fishery has picked up substantially," said David Harsila, of Seattle, president of the Alaska Independent Fishermen's Marketing Association.
Earlier runs into the bay this season included a number of red salmon that were below the normal size used for fillets.
The Bristol Bay daily run summary for 13 July showed the total area run at 33.7 million fish, with a cumulative escapement of nearly 23 million salmon, and 1,664 permits and 1,389 vessels registered to fish.
The catch delivered to processors in the bay through 14 July included 22.8 million reds, 522,000 chums, 51,000 kings and fewer than 1,000 each of silver and pink salmon.
In Prince William Sound, the overall harvest improved from 5.5 million fish to 19 million, mainly thanks to the humpy harvest rising from 1.5 million to 14.4 million pink salmon in just a week.
The area's sockeye salmon harvest rose from 2.3 million to 2.6 million fish, the coho harvest from 14,000 to 20,000 fish, the king harvest from 23,000 to 24,000 fish and the chum harvest from 1.7 million to 2.1 million fish.
As to prices, the good news for online and supermarket shoppers was that the cost of fresh salmon was dropping.
Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle was offering whole fresh Copper River sockeyes for USD 64.95 per fish and fresh Copper River sockeye fillets for USD 18.99 a pound, plus fresh whole wild king salmon at USD 12.99 a pound, and fresh wild king salmon fillets for USD 19.99 a pound.
FishEx in Anchorage was advertising fresh Alaska sockeye fillets for USD 25.95 a pound, fresh Alaska sockeye steaks for USD 21.95 a pound and fresh Alaska king salmon fillets for USD 36.95 a pound.
Costco stores in Anchorage had fresh Alaska sockeye fillets for USD 8.99 a pound and Fred Meyer supermarkets advertised fresh Alaskan sockeye fillets at USD 9.99 a

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