An off-year pink cycle is expected to dramatically reduce the salmon harvest in 2014, down 47 percent from last year, according to the annual report detailing the 2014 state-wide salmon forecast and 2013 harvests and ex-vessel values.
The projected harvest for this season is just under 133 million fish, with well over half, 75 million, expected to be pinks.
That compares with a record harvest of 283 million fish last season, with a whopping 80 percent, 226 million, pinks.
However, the pre-season forecast for last season was only for 118 million pinks. If the 2014 pink runs come in that much over forecast, 52 percent, it would actually mean a harvest of 114 million pinks.
The bright spot is the expected 14 percent increase in sockeye harvest, up to 34 million fish.
The 2013 statewide sockeye harvest was forecast at 34 million fish, but came in at only 29 million fish.
The forecast also predicts a 4.4 million harvest of coho and a 20 million harvest of chums.
King salmon harvests are expected to be 79,000 fish excluding Southeast and Bristol Bay; the all-gear harvest quota in Southeast under the Pacific Salmon Treaty with Canada is 439,400, up 60 percent from 2013, which may bode well for king salmon ocean survival.
Upper Cook Inlet is expecting a commercial sockeye harvest of 4.3 million fish, and Bristol Bay is looking at a harvest of 18 million sockeye.
Lower Cook Inlet should see a harvest of 154,000 sockeye and 584,000 pinks, including cost recovery and common property fisheries.
Last season was a good year for fish prices, with an ex-vessel price of $691 million for all species, although that was before end of season bonuses.
In spite of the paltry numbers, sockeye edged out pink salmon in value, $284 million to $277 million, with a state-wide average price of $1.60 per pound versus 40 cents per pound. Sockeye prices are expected to be strong again this season.
The full report can be found at adfg.alaska.gov
The Salmon Project, home of Salmon Love, is holding a salmon haiku contest.The Salmon Project celebrates Alaskan’s love of salmon, in the form of story videos, essays, pictures and more. The contest runs through April 30, and there is no limit to the number of entries. Find the rules and rewards at salmonproject.org/salmon-love.
Cristy Fry can be reached at email@example.com