With several weeks of wild salmon fishing left, the 2013 Alaska salmon season has already broken the all-time record for total salmon harvested, including all species, in a season.
The total number of salmon of all species harvested statewide reached 260 million fish as of Tuesday, Aug. 27, up 17% over the previous record of 221.9m, set in 2005.
The influx of pinks is to thank for the record, considering the Alaska pink salmon harvest as of Aug. 27 hit 209 million fish — more than double last year’s total pink harvest of 68m fish and also exceeding the 2012 total salmon harvest – for all species – by 64%.
Typically, Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) biologists are loathe to label fluctuations – even seemingly drastic ones – as abnormal or unusual, considering a typical salmon season comes with its fair share of idiosyncrasies. Not this year.
The 2013 season is “most certainly” unusual, Dan Gray, management coordinator for the Southeast region of Alaska, told Undercurrent News on Tuesday.
“From most perspectives, we set a huge statewide record, and it’s still climbing,” he said.
Having reached a total harvest of 254m fish as of Tuesday, the season still had over a month left, but that number is unlikely to increase significantly.
“The catches will be only directed chum and coho fisheries,” Geron Bruce, assistant director of commercial fisheries for ADF&G, told Undercurrent. “There is a possibility that the SE catches could be 1 to 2 million more. The other areas of the state will be much smaller.”