How many salmon come out of the Tongass National Forest? Someone asked Tongass Fisheries Program Manager Ron Medel that question, and the result was a slide show presentation that he's given throughout Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.
Medel gave that presentation again for a recent Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce lunch.
It's fairly simple to find out how many salmon are caught in Alaska each year, but the question that Medel set out to answer was a little more specific. He was looking for the percentage of wild, non-hatchery salmon that are caught in Tongass National Forest waters each year.
Not British Columbia fish. Not Southcentral fish. Tongass fish.
Medel found the answer, which is the point of his presentation, but he saved that for the end. Before getting there, he provided some interesting details about salmon in Southeast Alaska.
For example, which of Alaska's five salmon species makes up the largest share of fish brought to the docks? It's pinks, by a landslide, and Southeast Alaska lands the most pinks.
"Sockeye come in second, then the chum, coho and king. Just a sliver, a mere sliver of the total harvest, 500,000 plus on average for the past 19 years (are kings)," he said.
When considered by value, though, second-place sockeye jumps the line into first-place, which is why some of the northern fishery areas tend to bring in more money: They've got the reds.
That's all background, though. What about the main question: Tongass fish? Well, just hold on.
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