As fishing season draws near, Bristol Bay communities call on governor for safety plan
KDLG by Isabelle Ross - April 21, 2020
This year, concerns about COVID-19 are hanging over the Bristol Bay fishing season. Along with the millions of reds returning to spawn in the streams and lakes around the region, thousands of commercial fishermen, processors and cannery workers are starting to arrive in the region.
Alaska’s Total Salmon Catch for 2020 Projected to be Down 36 Percent
Seafood News by Laine Welch - April 22, 2020
Alaska’s total salmon catch for 2020 is projected to be down 36 percent from last year’s haul of 207 million fish, the eighth largest on record that was valued at nearly $658 million at the docks.
In the Run Forecasts and Harvest Projections and Review of the 2019 Season just released by the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game, managers are calling for a harvest of just under 133 million salmon across Alaska. The decline is driven by a much lower forecast for those hard to predict pink salmon of just over 60 million fish, down nearly 53 percent.
Here are the salmon harvest forecasts and outlooks for most Alaska regions:
A catch of 4.2 million coho salmon is projected this year, a 300,000 fish increase. For chums, a catch of 19.5 million would be a drop of 100,000 fish.
For sockeye salmon, a harvest forecast of just over 48 million compares to 55.5 million reds taken in Alaska last year, or a drop of 13.3 percent.
A run of nearly 50 million sockeyes is expected to surge into Bristol Bay’s nine river systems, six percent higher than the 10 year average. That should produce a catch of 37 million reds, down from nearly 42 million last year.
Besides the Bay, the outlook for salmon fisheries in most other Alaska regions is fairly bleak.
All eyes will be on market reactions to the first fresh fish of the year in mid-May when sockeyes and kings return to the Copper River near Cordova, regarded as the official start of Alaska’s salmon season. The famous fish typically commands the highest prices of the year at high end restaurants and markets, but there’s little confidence in strong salmon sales amid the COVID chaos.
At Upper Cook Inlet a run of about 4.3 million sockeye salmon is projected with a commercial harvest of 1.8 million fish. (In 2019, the UCI sockeye catch of 1.7 million was 1.3 million fewer fish than the preseason forecast of three million fish.)
Southeast Alaska’s pink salmon harvest projection calls for a dismal 12 million fish, down from last season’s low of just over 21 million.
“Like many recent years, a potential source of uncertainty regarding the 2020 pink salmon return is the anomalously warm sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Alaska in 2019,” the ADF&G report said. “Pink salmon that went to sea from 2014 to 2018 returned in numbers below expectation and below recent odd- and even-year averages. The impact of warm sea surface temperatures on the survival of pink salmon that went to sea in 2019 is unknown and adds uncertainty to the forecast.”
Kodiak also is calling for a low pink harvest at around 12 million compared to 33 million humpies in 2019. Mediocre fishing seasons also are projected for pinks and sockeyes at the Alaska Peninsula.
ADF&G produces run forecasts for Chinook salmon in the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim region and for Yukon river chums, where summer catches could reach 1,200 fish and in the 550,000 range during the fall fishery.
For the fifth year since statehood, there will be no buyer for fishermen at Quinhagak and Goodnews Bay in the Kuskokwim area. The region’s Coastal Villages economic development group built and briefly operated a plant at Platinum but abruptly closed it in 2015.
ADF&G does not produce formal forecasts for salmon returning to the Norton Sound or Kotzebue areas. Harvest outlooks for those stocks are based upon parent year spawning escapements, age composition, recent trends, and the likely level of harvest and processing capacity that can be expected.
At Norton Sound, a catch of up to 250,000 coho salmon are expected, along with 180,000 to 230,000 chums. At Kotzebue, a summer catch of up to 650,000 chum salmon is projected.
Heading into the salmon season, here is a breakdown of statewide average salmon prices paid to Alaska fishermen in 2019, along with average fish weights: Chinook salmon - $4.48/lb at 11.84 pounds; sockeye: $1.45/lb at 5.24 pounds; coho: $1.15/lb at 6.77 pounds; pink: $.30/lb at 3.27 pounds; chum: $.49/lb at 7.07 pounds.
Labeling and Marketing
Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute: Marketing Update
ASMI- April 2019
A note from the executive director:, Information for Alaska’s Seafood Industry on COVID-19, ASMI Joins “Eat Seafood, America!” Campaign to Support U.S. Seafood Supply Chain ,
ASMI Taps Strong Media Relationships for National Cooking at Home Coverage
North Pacific Fishery Management Council; Public Meeting
A Notice by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 04/20/2020
The meeting will be held on Monday, May 4, 2020 through Wednesday May 6, 2020, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Alaska Standard Time, and 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Thursday, May 7, 2020.
Webinar Wednesday: Onboard procedures for covid-19 *TODAY*
National Fisherman by Jessica Hathaway - April 21, 2020
Join us as we host Dr. Ann Jarris of Discovery Health MD for an in-depth presentation to help guide fishing captains and companies develop protocols for dealing with covid-19 onboard.
This webinar is free. All you have to do is sign up and show up Wednesday, April 22, at 11 a.m. Eastern Time. (Don’t forget to do the math!)
National Fisherman Editor in Chief Jessica Hathaway will moderate a Q&A session that will follow the presentation.
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