The 2019 sockeye salmon harvest looks like it’s going to be a big one. In the middle of July, in just the first 6 weeks of the sockeye salmon season, the harvest has already reached 39 million, very close to the 42 million forecast for the entire year. And the pace shows no sign of slowing down. An initial report indicated Bristol Bay watersheds brought in 14.5 million sockeye in the second week of July. If the number holds, it would be the third-highest weekly harvest on record.
Even as the weekly harvest figures are expected to decline over the final 8-10 weeks of the season, it’s clear that this year’ sockeye salmon harvest is going to far surpass the forecasts set by Alaska Department of Fish & Game.
Look for Great Deals this Year on Sockeye Salmon
What does this mean for the average salmon lover? You can expect to find great deals, especially for people are willing to order their salmon in larger volume. For those who have bought salmon from Alaskan fishermen in the past, expect to receive multiple email notifications about package deals. Now is the time to get proactive about reaching out to friends, family, and neighbors about forming a salmon buying club.
More Salmon Species Harvest Figures
While the overall Alaskan salmon harvest is solidly ahead of its forecast, every species of salmon is a little different. The following information from National Fishermen shows how each salmon species harvest is doing so far compared to previous years.
- Pink salmon is still 30 percent ahead of its forecasted pace, though it has slowed from a nearly record-breaking start to the season.
- The keta salmon harvest is down slightly at 19 percent off its forecasted pace but may be in line for a late-season pop based on last year’s pattern.
- The chinook king salmon harvest continues its slow and steady multi-year decline. Likewise, these salmon will continue to command a price that’s nearly three times as expensive as sockeye salmon.
- So far, just 178,000 coho silver salmon have been brought in—or only about 4 percent of the total annual forecast. However, these salmon have a later harvesting season from July to October, so it’s too early to tell about this year’s supply of coho silver salmon.
Regional Information about Bristol Bay’s Salmon Harvest
Some of the most devoted sockeye salmon fans buy their salmon from companies that track and tag the specific watersheds where their salmon was harvested. Some people claim to detect subtle differences in quality. Others are looking for salmon from the same region where they once visited on an Alaskan vacation. Looking for figures on harvests from specific regions of the Bristol Bay area (Togiak, Nushagak, Naknek-Kvichak, Egegik, Ugashik)? Check out this news report from KDLG.
The latest report from Alaska Native News suggests that mid-season trend lines continue to hold true for the different varieties of wild-caught salmon. Pink, coho, and keta salmon are all slightly behind their expected numbers, while the sockeye harvest is the outlier and already more than 30 percent over its 2019 projections. The chinook harvest is right in line with the expected forecast.
There continue to be signs that salmon harvesting season is shifting later in the year. The past week has been one of the strongest of the entire season with more than 35 million salmon. Even if this year’s harvest doesn’t meet projections, it hasn’t been a disaster by any means. Overall, Alaska’s commercial fishing industry has already harvested more than 160 million salmon in 2019—or about 75 percent of the total 213 million that were forecast at the beginning of the year.
Here are the harvest numbers for every type of wild-caught Alaskan salmon species:
Pink: 91 million
Sockeye: 54.5 million
Keta: 12.5 million
Coho: 1.5 million
Geographically speaking, it’s also interesting and somewhat counterintuitive that while Southeast Alaska fishing waters have been the worst-performing this year, the California salmon harvest has been much stronger than expected.