Commercial Fisheries

KBBI News

There’s more bad news for dip-netters and sport anglers in Southcentral Alaska. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced Wednesday that it will close the Chitina River to dip-netting due to this year’s abysmal sockeye return to the Copper River.

Fish and Game will also close sport fishing for reds in the Upper Copper River Drainage.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game

As a number of commercial salmon fisheries around the state kick off this week, the outlook for ex-vessel prices is looking good. Fishing economists say between lower run forecasts and strong foreign and domestic demand, commercial fishermen will likely see higher prices this year. But that doesn’t necessarily mean commercial fishermen will earn more this season compared to last year.   

Andy Wink with Wink Research and Consulting said although prices vary by species and region, most fisheries should see stable or higher prices this year.

KBBI News

The Copper River commercial sockeye fishery is likely to fall below forecast for the second year in a row. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game closed one of the fishery’s 12-hour openings last week due to low escapement and abysmal harvest levels.

That trend continued this week with a slow fishing period on Monday, and the department announced Wednesday that it’s closing the fishery on Thursday for the second week in a row.

KBBI News

The sockeye run on the Copper River is off to an incredibly slow start. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game opened the fishery on May 17 for a 12-hour fishing period.

Gillnetters came home with roughly 1,900 sockeye and returned on Monday for another opening, but fishing still remained slow with only 3,400 fish winding up in nets.

Fish and Game biologist Jeremy Botz said those numbers are well under what the department expected.

Courtesy of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources

A contentious release site for hatchery pink salmon near Homer is being forced to move after it was put in the wrong place. Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association installed two net pens in late April near the head of Tutka Bay as part of its plan to move a portion of its nearby Tutka Bay Lagoon operation.

KBBI file photo

Commercial fishing in lower Cook Inlet will kick off with regular openings in about a month.  

The set gillnet season will begin in the southern district with one 24-hour-opening on June 1. The season will continue with regular 48-hour fishing periods, each kicking off at 6 a.m. on Mondays and Thursdays.

Seiners in the eastern district will begin their season with a Monday-through-Friday schedule and 16-hour fishing periods on July 5.

Fish and Game

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is forecasting 2018’s lower Cook Inlet pink salmon run to be a modest one despite disastrous runs in 2016, this year’s parent year. A number of 2016 pink salmon runs were declared a federal disaster.

Area Management Biologist Glenn Hollowell said the commercial harvest was limited to about 70,000 pinks that year.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game

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.

KBBI News

Every good fish story seems to be based in the past, and as most fishermen will tell you, the fish were bigger way back when. But in the case of chinook, or king salmon, that actually seems to be the case. At the turn of the twentieth century, you can find photographs of fishermen holding up massive king salmon, now, not so much. But a recent study published in Wiley Online Library may have an idea as to why kings up and down the West Coast are shrinking.