Record pink harvest predicted for Prince William Sound

Prince William Sound is expecting the largest pink salmon harvest on record this year, a stunning 58.9 million fish, while the Copper River sockeye run is expected to come in at a modest 889,000 fish, with an additional 1.2 million sockeyes forecasted for harvest from Prince William Sound, mostly from the Main Bay hatchery facility.

Seafood News.com reports that the 2017 pink salmon total run forecast for PWS is 67.16 million fish, made up of 21.10 million natural stock salmon, 18.75 million Valdez Fisheries Development Association, or VFDA, salmon, and 27.40 million PWSAC hatchery salmon.

If the 2017 natural stock pink salmon total run forecast is realized it would be the second largest natural run on record, and nearly double the 1997-2015 odd-year average return of 12.29 million fish.

VFDA needs about 3.30 million, or about 18 percent of the projected 18.75 million pink salmon return to their facility for cost recovery and broodstock, leaving 15.48 million for commercial harvest.

PWSAC needs about 3.20 million, or around 12 percent of the projected 27.40 million pink salmon run to the PWSAC hatcheries for cost recovery and broodstock. That leaves 24.20 million PWSAC pink salmon for the commercial harvest.

Based on the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s natural stock pink salmon forecast of 21.10 million fish, there is a potential harvest of 19.65 million natural pink salmon.

However, the 2016 pink salmon harvest was declared a disaster for much of the state, including the Sound, where only 12.1 million fish were harvested out of a forecasted haul of 40.9 million.

The 2017 chum salmon forecast total run in PWS is 3.17 million fish.

The Copper River season is expected to open the week of May 14. Total harvest projections for the Copper River District are 889,000 sockeye, 207,000 coho, and 4,000 Chinook salmon.

The Copper River season is expected to open the week of May 14. Total harvest projections for the Copper River District are 889,000 sockeye, 207,000 coho, and 4,000 Chinook salmon.

Prince William Sound seining will begin on June 1, targeting the enhanced chum salmon run to the AFK hatchery and Port Chalmers remote release site. Starting on June 15 daily fishing periods will be used to allow for more frequent monitoring of purse seine harvests.

Cristy Fry can be reached at realist468@gmail.com.

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