Alaska’s 2013 salmon season has yielded the largest catch ever, and the value of the fishery is also headed for the record books.
The statewide catch on Sept. 6 was nearing 265 million fish – the old record was 222 million in 2005. A bumper run of pink salmon is behind the big harvest - the mindboggling catch was approaching 213 million fish. The previous record was 161 million pinks, also in 2005.
Some boats are still out on the water, but the big pink catches have gone by, said Geron Bruce, Assistant Director for the state commercial fisheries division.
Things are pretty close to being wrapped up in Prince William Sound and also at the Alaska Peninsula, where a catch of nearly eight million pinks ended a long string of disappointing seasons.
“At Kodiak they are still plugging away, but it’s very low numbers. Enough to keep a few of the die hards but not big fishing anymore,” Bruce said. Southeast will see one or two more pink openers, “where catches have dropped, but are still larger than in other areas.”
Total salmon catches at the Panhandle topped 100 million, another record.
“It’s really nice to see the whole Gulf of Alaska producing like this,” he added.
It will be a few more weeks before we will know how much the 2013 catch is worth to Alaska salmon fishermen. The preliminary ex-vessel values (at the docks) will be released in October, and Bruce believes the total will top the chart.
“I’m sure it will be a record. It’s just a question of how far into record territory we will be going,” Bruce said.