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Pink salmon tsunami predicted

15 March 2017

The Alaskan Department of Fish & Game (ADF&G) expects the state’s commercial fisheries to land 204 million salmon during the course of the year – up 81% compared to the 112.5 million harvested during 2016.

The estimates have been published in a new report by ADF&G, and this year’s figure is expected to include 141.9 million pink, 40.8 million sockeye, 16.7 million chum, 4.7 million coho and 80,000 Chinook.

The increase is largely expected to come from pink salmon, with landings projected to rise by about 102.7 million compared to 2016 (39.2 million); the sockeye harvest is expected to drop by about 12 million; the coho harvest is expected to be about 778,000 more; and the chum harvest is expected to increase by about 1.2 million.

In 2016, the state’s all-species salmon harvest totaled 112.5 million, which was about 49 million less than the preseason forecast of 161 million. This combined harvest was composed of 434,000 Chinook, 52.9 million sockeye, 3.9 million coho, 39 million pink, and 16 million chum.

When the appropriate data were available, harvest forecasts were arrived at through quantitative projections based on information of previous spawning levels, smolt outmigrations, returns of sibling age classes, and recent survival rates observed for hatchery releases. Other projections were based on averages of recent catch levels. Fishing effort influences average catch levels, and effort is partly determined by market conditions in addition to the size of salmon runs. Therefore these projections may not be indicative of actual harvest levels.

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