SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Fish Factor

Predictions say salmon season will produce fewer fish


February 22, 2010

Alaska's 2010 salmon season will produce 15 percent fewer fish, if predictions by state fishery managers hold true.

The statewide, all species harvest is pegged at 138 million salmon, compared to last year's catch of 162.5 million salmon, the 12th largest take since 1960.

According to the 2010 Run Forecasts and Harvest Projections report just released by the state commercial fisheries division, the shortfall stems from an expected decrease in pink salmon catches.

The statewide breakdown for this year's projected salmon catches calls for a slight bump up for Chinook to 515,000 fish; for sockeye, a catch of 45.8 million reds is an increase of 2.5 million; the coho catch of 4.4 million is up just slightly; staying the same is the chum forecast of 18 million fish. For those hard to predict pinks, a projected catch of 69.1 million is about 28% lower than last year.

Here is a sampler of regional information included in the 2009 salmon season overview: In Southeast Alaska, 1,915 permit holders participated in the fisheries, up 2% from the previous year. Chum salmon was the most valuable species, valued at $37 million at the Southeast docks.

At Norton Sound, 88 permits were fished, the second highest since 1997, but the 12th lowest on record. The fishery value of $722,000 was well above the 5 year average of $428,000 and the 3rd highest in 20 years.
Sixty-two salmon fishermen were out on the water at Kotzebue, the most since 2001. The average value for each permit holder was $6,073.

At Kodiak, of the 608 eligible permit holders, only 291 (48%) made landings, up slightly. A fleet of 158 seiners accounted for 93% of the salmon landed, and averaged $185,000 per permit fished. The average earning for 132 Kodiak setnetters was $48,000 per permit, above the 10 year average of $38,000.

Find the 2010 Alaska salmon catch projections and a wrap up of the 2009 season at

Give it up!

Lent began recently, a time of fasting and soul searching for hundreds of millions of Christians around the world. The word Lent derives from the Old English lencten, meaning spring. The 40-day Lenten season, which this year runs from February 17 to Easter Sunday on April 4, dates back to the 4th century.

Traditionally, the faithful give up eating meat during Lent -and what the holiday sales season from Thanksgiving to Christmas means to retailers, Lent means to the seafood industry. Food Services of America, one of the nation's largest distributors, reports that Ash Wednesday (the start of Lent) is the busiest day of the year for frozen seafood sales, and the six weeks following is the top selling season for the entire year.

While nearly all seafood enjoys a surge of interest during Lent, the most traditional items served are the so called "whitefish" species, such as cod, pollock, flounders, and halibut. But no matter what the seafood favorite, the six week Lenten season is good news for Alaska, which provides more than 60% of all the nation's wild caught seafood to U.S. restaurants and grocery stores.

Copper kills smells

A study by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists says even legal amounts of copper can harm salmon. The scientists presented the study at this month's Alaska Forum on the Environment in Anchorage.

The scientists conducted the study in Washington state, where there is concern about copper in road runoff and storm drains. The researchers said the tiniest traces of copper can block a salmon's ability to smell - and a strong sense of smell is the difference between life and death for a fish.

"When dissolved copper gets into the water it affects their ability to smell odors. That ability is really important for them to avoid predators, to find other salmon for mating, and to point to home," said Dr. Tracy Collier at NOAA's Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle.

All things AK seafood!

Alaska seafood is making a splash on Facebook. Anyone with a page at the social networking site can search for "Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute' and become a fan. "We have a ton of info on there and it will be updated very frequently," said ASMI's Laura Fleming.



This weekly column focusing on Alaska's seafood industry began in 1991, and it now appears in over 20 newspapers and web sites. A spin off - Fish Radio - airs weekdays on 30 radio stations in Alaska. The goal of both is to make all people aware of the economic and social importance of Alaska's fishing industry to our state, the nation and the world. Happy New Year and thanks for your continued support of fishing news!

Laine can be reached at msfish[AT]


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Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska

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