From: Margaret Bauman, Alaska Journal of Commerce
Published November 8, 2005 12:00 AM

Salmon Harvest Marks Third Largest Catch Ever

Alaska's commercial fisheries harvested 206.1 million salmon of all species in 2005, with an estimated total value of $295.3 million, making the catch the third largest on record, state fisheries officials said.


The record amount paid for a harvest was $724.6 million in 1988 for about 100 million pounds of salmon. The highest harvest on record, 217.8 million salmon in 1995, was worth $486.9 million, state officials said.


Preliminary estimates of the 2005 harvest, which was about 26 million fish above the preseason forecast, showed it was the third largest harvest on record, and well above the most recent 10-year average of 167 million fish.


The 2005 statewide harvest marks the third year since 1960 that the number of salmon caught has exceeded 200 million fish. The total price paid to fishermen for the 2005 salmon harvest was $23 million higher than in 2004, and similar to the most recent 10-year average of $294.4 million, officials said.


The Alaska Department of Fish and Game considers these statistics to be preliminary. Some fisheries, such as the salmon troll fishery, are still in progress. Revised estimates will be produced in late spring of 2006, when fish ticket data has been finalized and Alaska Department of Fish and Game has received final prices from processors' annual reports.


Preliminary estimates of the statewide average prices for chinook, coho, pink and chum salmon are similar to last year's ex-vessel prices. Sockeye salmon prices increased from 60 cents per pound in 2004 to 71 cents per pound in 2005. Final 2005 prices for all salmon species may be higher after post-season adjustments and end-of-season bonuses are paid to fisherman.


Bristol Bay's sockeye salmon harvest of 24.5 million fish was 1.76 million fish fewer than last year's harvest, but only slightly below the preseason forecast of 25.6 million fish. The ex-vessel value of $91.3 million was nearly $15 million more than the 2004 Bristol Bay sockeye salmon value.


The statewide pink salmon harvest of nearly 147 million fish was the largest on record, with an estimated total value of $52.5 million, above the most recent 10-year average of $46.1 million. The Kodiak fishery harvested nearly 30 million pink salmon, about 8.53 million more fish than last year's harvest. Prince William Sound's pink salmon catch of 45.5 million fish was a record harvest.


The Norton Sound coho salmon harvest of 85,000 fish ranks as the fourth best of all time, and the 2005 Norton Sound commercial salmon fishery was a marked improvement over recent years.


Details on the harvest, by area as well as statewide, can be found on the ADF&G Web site under "2005 Preliminary Season Summary" at www.cf.adfg.state.ak.us.


To see more of the Alaska Journal of Commerce, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.alaskajournal.com.


Source: Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News


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