Earnings from commercial fisheries on the Kenai Peninsula have been going down in recent years according to the 2018 Kenai Peninsula Borough Comprehensive Draft Plan.
The plan, released in December, states that fishery earnings declined from 2013 to 2016 and cites research from the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission. Total revenue from fisheries on the peninsula during that time decreased from roughly 150 to 90 million dollars. Craig Farrington is a researcher at the commission and said smaller earnings are likely due to less salmon.
“The Prince William Sound hatchery contributions have been declining in recent years and that's with pinks and chum salmon and those have a big effect for the permit holders there in the Kenai Peninsula Borough,” he said.
Wild salmon have not been doing well either.
“Mother Nature is cyclical and so salmon abundances go up and down," he said. "And so in some of the recent years, abundances have been down, in Cook Inlet, especially so."
Farrington said the downward swing in earnings is not out of the ordinary, nor nearly as bad as other declines. Fishery earnings in the early 2000s were especially poor.
“We've come back out of that, the value and the earnings for fishermen are much better now than they were at that point and now [fisherman are] into more of these cyclical trends,” Farrington said.
He is hopeful the trend will continue to swing the other way. Farrington said fish prices have been trending upwards over the last couple of years, which could boost overall earnings on the peninsula.
But he said those price hikes will need to coincide with good salmon years in order to boost earnings coming back to the Kenai Peninsula.