Early Alaska Commercial Salmon Catch Exceeds 1M Fish

Early Alaska Commercial Salmon Catch Exceeds 1M Fish
Jumping salmon. File photo.

Estimated commercial harvests in the 2024 statewide Alaska salmon fishery topped one million fish as of Monday, June 17, as two districts in Bristol Bay opened in the wake of Copper River/Prince William Sound and Cook Inlet fisheries.

Deliveries are also coming to processors from Cook Inlet, Kodiak and the Alaska Peninsula. Prices for the coveted Copper River sockeye fillets are holding their own at the Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle, at $34.99 a pound, and as high as $37.97 at online retailer FishEx in Anchorage.

Some retailers meanwhile have begun offering fresh from the ocean Cook Inlet sockeye fillets for $12.99 to $21.99 a pound.

In upscale restaurants in Anchorage, gourmet entrees of Copper River reds this week were $49 at Simon & Seafort’s, and $32 at Orso.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) biologists said that as of June 17, over one million salmon had been delivered to processors, including an estimated 714,000 sockeye, 367,000 hum, 28,000 Chinook and 24,000 pink.

Copper River commercial salmon fisheries began a 36-hour opener on Monday. The Cordova office of ADF&G said ice is gone from the rivers and the overall size of the sockeyes continues to be higher on average than one year ago.

The Bering River and Coghill districts also opened for 36-hour fisheries on Monday, and the Eshamy district for 24 hours. Purse seiners in the Montague district and Southwestern district opened Monday for 24 and 48 hours, respectively.

Catches in the Central Region included 811,000 fish overall, including 33,000 reds from Cook Inlet and another 2,000 from openers in the Egegik and Nushagak districts of Bristol Bay. The surge of salmon in Bristol Bay, the world’s largest wild sockeye salmon fishery, typically comes around the week of July 4.

ADF&G has forecast a run of nearly 38 million fish into Bristol Bay this summer with a potential inshore surplus of 25 million red salmon.