In an unprecedented (and some may say poorly timed) move, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game shut down all king salmon fishing in Southeast Alaska as of Aug. 10, which also happens to be Alaska Wild Salmon Day.

The Southeast troll fleet landed 66,000 kings in their first opener in July, which lasted just four days. That left 31,000 for a second opener, expected in August.

“Since a large number of kings that we get in the second opener are feeder kings, we felt compelled to do as much as we could to look toward the future in terms of those stocks,” Fish and Game Deputy Commissioner Charlie Swanton told Alaska Public Media. “Ocean conditions don’t look all that promising in 2018, and we want to do whatever we can to turn around and try to not replicate 2017 moving into 2018 and beyond.”

As of Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017, the Alaska salmon harvest stands at 133.3 million fish, with 39.1 million of that coming out of Bristol Bay.

Pink harvests continue to languish compared to recent odd-year harvests, through last week (31). The statewide forecast for 142 million pinks seems well out of reach with just under 63 million caught so far. However, this week (32) and next week typically mark the peak of Alaska pink salmon fishing. In 2015, those two peak weeks produced 62 million pinks and accounted for more than 30 percent of the 190 million-fish harvest.

Good harvests this week and next could result in a decent total harvest volume, nearing the average of the last 10 odd-year harvests of 137 million pinks. Globally, pink salmon supply may be buoyed by larger Russian harvests.

Jessica Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman. She has been covering the fishing industry for 14 years, serves on the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute's Communications Committee and is a National Fisheries Conservation Center board member.

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