This summer has been a mixed bag of salmon highs and lows. Copper River started the salmon season with a huge record breaking run of sockeye. Bristol Bay has met many expectations, but the lack of a price jump puts a damper on a successful season. However, King salmon returns are poor. In Kenai, the failiure of the natural king run was considered a disaster. Southeast Alaskan trollers have suffered from the lack of kings, as well. Prince William Sound is the next big show. A huge run of pink salmon is predicted for this year and many boats are still waiting. In southeast Alaska, harvests are expected to be low, but the value and abundance of chum salmon has added some real economic diversity to fishermen. The summer is salmon is almost over, but the real story will still unfold. Will the pinks show up? Read on for more details of the state of salmon this summer.
Pacific salmon play a vital part of our worlds ecology. Over 22 different species feed off the bounty of the salmon‘s epic yearly migration. For millions of years, the salmon ruled the pacific ocean and populations flourished thought out the Pacific Rim. Native cultures revered these massive returns as gifts and celebrated each season’s salmon return with art and ceremony. In 1779, Captain James Cook discovered the Columbia River and its salmon bounty while searching for the inside passage. Once the Europeans hit the west coast, large-scale salmon exporting by the Hudson Bay Fishery ramped up. In 1876, the first salmon cannery opened in Astoria and there were 70 more along the coast by the turn of the century.
Salmon production vigorously continued along the coast well in the next century. By the mid 1900’s, it was obvious that the salmon stocks were in serious decline. Mismanagement by the federal government was blamed for most of the problems, then in 1959 Alaska became a state and took control of the fisheries. New management techniques included escapement, which ensured that sufficient numbers of salmon escape capture to ensure the health of future spawning generations. Even with new measures in effect, salmon stocks declined to record lows in 1972. The Limited Entry Act passed in 1973 to regulate the overall number of permits. This system has proved successful in rebuilding the salmon runs to today’s epic standards.
The history of salmon is full of flaws and mistakes, yet the saga of salmon defines the west coast. This majestic fish still dominates Pacific waters and provides the world with one of nature’s greatest proteins. Salmon have survived through all the hardships man has delivered over the years and remains one of natures greatest events. Next time salmon is on your dinner plate, think of the history of a truly amazing fish.
The 2012 salmon season is here! Many people consider “Copper River Reds” the first salmon the season, but southeast fishermen get a chance to start today.! The Taku and the Stikine are open for a one day King salmon gilnett fishery. Southeast trollers also get a chance at the early kings this year too. Good luck to all! Let’s hope the season starts with a bang! Enjoy the youtube pick of last year’s gilnett season in southeast. I kinda like the disco beats in the video, too!
Commercial Gillnetters and trollers in the Petersburg and Wrangell area will be targeting king salmon in the marine waters near the Stikine River starting early next week. The District 8 king season was closed for the previous three years because the Stikine runs were not big enough. This year, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is projecting nearly 41 thousand large kings will return, which is enough for a commercial harvest.
Area management biologist Troy Thynes says, ” “Now in terms of this forecast, it’s probably, over the long term, about an average size king salmon run for the Stikine River. In short term, its actually under average because we’ve had some very large returns in the early 2000’s……What we’ve seen here is this forecast, compared to past years, is is above the last three years pre-season forecast and pretty similar to the 2007 and 2008 forecast.”
The Stikine River king salmon run is shared between Alaska and Canada under the Pacific Salmon Treaty. Based on the pre-season forecast, Alaska is allowed a total catch of just under 59 hundred kings including commercial and sport landings. Canada’s share is about 68 hundred fish.
Alaska’s target could change later this month when the state comes up with an in-season forecast based on actual returns to the river
The battle to harvest the massive quota before everything spawns out continues in Sitka. So far, about 11,000 tons have been harvest in just two openers. Processors are super plugged today, but chances of a fishery today are possible, because of the rate of spawn around the islands. There will be announcement today at 11:00 AM. I’ve been recording these and posting them on soundcloud, if you are interested in hearing them. You can find the link in the sidebar. As always follow me on twitter for micro updates and make sure to like the facebook page. All of this info is in the sidebar.
The biggest names in the industry have gathered in Boston to show off the latest and greatest in the world of retail seafood. Enjoy some live video from the show and check back later today for all the winners.
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Its about that time again. Whales are starting to gather in southeast alaska, and that means one thing. Its herring time! The winters can be a bit long in Alaska. When the herring arrive, you know it spring again. I’m heading down to Seattle this weekend to bring the F/V Quandary north for the fishing season. Let’s hope that Sitka is a bit more lucrative that last year. Click thru to hear the audio from KRBD.
Alaska’s Board of Fisheries on Tuesday voted to close part of Sitka Sound to commercial herring harvests. But it wasn’t as much as some wanted.
The board faced a number of proposals to lower catch levels, limit commercial fishing areas, or both. The Sitka Tribe of Alaska and some others wanted further protections for subsistence harvests of herring and their roe.
The board voted down eight of the nine plans before it on Tuesday. The one that passed created subsistence-only zones by closing lucrative commercial harvest areas.
Just about 70 fishermen from all over Alaska have gathered in Juneau for the Young Fishermen Summit. Nearly every fishery is represented here, with gillnetters being the highest volume. Most of the attendees are from Southeast, however Bristol Bay is highly represented as well. The two day event covers many facets of the fishing industry, including fishery management, private marketing and politics. I’ve included some quick video from Bruce Gabry’s talk on record keeping. The images are from the media package included at the summit. Check back for more updates as the day continues. Later today, we will be at the NOAA Headquarters at Lena Point. Stay tuned and post any questions if you are interested.
A lot has happened in the world of commercial fishing within the past year. Halibut has dominated the recent headlines with serious implications of a failed fishery. Whereas, commercial salmon fishing has garnered some of the highest prices and catch returns in years. The commercial fishing industry seems to be plagued with more than is fair share of highs and lows. So, hunker down and we will go over some of last years biggest headlines in what some call the “Deadliest Business.”
Salmon dominated the news this year with recent hints of a virus blooming in wild pacific salmon population and a geneticly designed Frankenfish that would solve all of our salmon farming issues. Also record harvests In southeast and Chignik supplied plenty of headlines too. Of course, news of an impending industrial mine in the heart of Alaska‘s sockeye country was met with fierce opposition throughout the year.
Commercial squid fishing in California has seen a huge uptake in value within the last two seasons. In the past, the fishery could take up to six months to catch the quota of 180,000 tons. Last year they were done by Christmas. This year the boys were done by turkey day.
Bering SeaKing crab quotas were heavily cut this year, but record high prices and a quick season were great for consumers and producers. Southeast Alaskaeven got a chance at king crab this past October. Six years had passed since the last crab opener in the region, so locals were eager to cash in the on record prices.
Sitka Herring was seriously impacted by the Japanese tsunami this spring. Right before the herring started showing, the tsunami devastated most of the Japanese seafood market, including the buyers. The tragedy resulted in a huge drop in the ex vessel price of herring. In 2010, herring were 410 dollars a ton. This spring we were only able to get 100 dollars a ton.
The next segment will include halibut, pollock, and even some dive fisheries. Feel free to add some suggestions or point me to stories that I may have overlookd