Odd Year, Good Salmon Season

Pink salmon. (Video still by Chris Newly)

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

The salmon season is winding down, and numbers show it was a good year.

James Jackson, the Kodiak Commercial Salmon Area Management biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, says any year where fishermen harvest more than 30 million salmon is a good one, and the Kodiak area is at a little more than 31 million salmon.

Jackson says pinks make up the bulk of those catches.

“We’re predominantly a pink salmon fishery. We do have early and late run sockeye stocks, but the majority of the fishery kinda revolves around our large, wild pink salmon run and the pink salmon run over the last decade or so has been pretty variable.”

Last year’s pink salmon season was so bad the federal government issued a disaster declaration for the Gulf of Alaska. This year, Jackson says the harvest started slow, with pink salmon wild stocks coming in above forecast, and hatchery stocks below.

“But overall the pink harvest was right on forecast. I think we forecasted around 28 million and we harvested about 26 and a half.”

Jackson says the success of the pink run goes up and down – the odd years tend to be more successful than the even years, especially recently.

Kodiak just wrapped up an odd year, and Jackson says pink salmon have gotten a decent dock value.

He says where the average price is between five and 50 cents per pound, pink salmon brought in 35 cents per pound. He says that, along with the successful harvest this season, will help fishermen rally from last year.

“And I know that a lot of guys are anticipating next year not being that great and so are hoping that maybe they made enough money this year to be able to weather another bad year next year.”

Jackson says the salmon fishery usually comes to a natural close by the first week of October, and the next openings will be shellfish and groundfish.

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