Story last updated at 12/3/2008 - 2:01 pm
JUNEAU - The Alaska Department of Fish and Game released its preliminary estimates on Nov. 14 for the 2008 commercial salmon harvest and for the value of that harvest to commercial fishermen.
The estimates are preliminary and revised estimates will be produced in 2009 after all fish ticket data have been finalized and processors have submitted annual reports, which include the final prices paid for salmon in 2008.
Commercial fishermen harvested 146 million salmon in 2008, the 16th largest harvest in Alaska's history of statehood. The 2008 harvest was 67 million fish less than the 2007 harvest of 213 million fish, 13.5 million fish above the preseason forecast of 132.5 million fish, and 27.3 million fish below the most recent 10 year average commercial harvest of 173 million salmon.
At $409.3 million, the value of the 2008 catch is higher than the most recent 10 year average of $289 million, and only $7.4 million less than fishermen earned in 2007, marking the second consecutive year since 1995 that the total value has exceeded $400 million.
Preliminary 2008 prices are showing increased value for Chinook, coho, pink, and chum salmon compared to the final 2007 prices. Only the preliminary sockeye salmon price in 2008 was slightly below that for 2007.
Chinook salmon prices increased from $3.07 per pound in 2007 to $4.28 per pound in 2008, while coho salmon prices increased from $0.96 per pound in 2007 to $1.21 per pound in 2008. Chum salmon prices increased from $0.34 cents per pound in 2007 to $0.53 cents per pound this year, and pink salmon prices were up by $0.10 cents per pound at $0.29. The preliminary statewide average price for sockeye salmon is $.78 per pound, two cents less than last year.
Final 2008 prices for all salmon species may be higher after any post-season adjustments and end-of-season bonuses are paid to fisherman.
Bristol Bay's sockeye salmon harvest of 27.7 million fish was the 11th largest since 1893. The Bristol Bay value of sockeye was $111.3 million, down slightly the 2007 Bristol Bay value of $115.7 million. The preliminary average price paid for sockeye salmon in Bristol Bay was 1 cent per pound less than it was in 2007.
The statewide pink salmon harvest of 84 million fish is well below the all time record-setting harvest of 161 million fish in 2005 and the most recent 30-year historical average of 91.1 million fish.
The statewide chum salmon harvest of 18.2 million fish ranks as the seventh best of all time in numbers of fish and the ex-vessel value of $78.8 million captures the second highest ranking since statehood.
Details on the numbers and pounds of fish, average fish weight, average price per pound, and ex-vessel value for each of the salmon species, by area as well as statewide, can be found on the ADF&G website under "2008 Preliminary Season Summary" at www.cf.adfg.state.ak.us/geninfo/finfish/salmon/catchval/blusheet/08exvesl.php. Copies may also be requested from the Division of Commercial Fisheries at 907-465-6133.