Tag Archives: Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Southeast Alaska fisherman pleads guilty to illegally harvesting $35,000 worth of sea cucumbers

A Southeast Alaska commercial fisherman has been convicted for his role in illegally harvesting nearly 7,500 pounds of sea cucumbers near Prince of Wales Island. Jonathan McGraw Jr., of Naukati Bay, pleaded guilty to fishing in closed waters and providing false information on a harvest report. Both are misdemeanors. In 2018, McGraw and two others were charged with illegally fishing in a scientific preserve near Whale Pass. That area has been closed to fishing since the 1980s. >click to read<  21:13

Opposite forecasts for SE pinks, Bristol Bay reds; Cook Inlet busts

Biologists are forecasting another weak pink salmon year for Southeast and another strong sockeye salmon run for Bristol Bay coming in the 2020 season. The forecasts for Southeast Alaska and for Bristol Bay, released in late November, continue the trends of the past few years in both areas. In Southeast, biologists are forecasting about 12 million fish to be harvested, with a range of 7 million to 19 million fish. >click to read< 11:51

Bristol Bay red king crab fishery trends toward closure as fleet reports slow fishing, aging stock

This season, the 54-vessel fleet has reported slow, spotty fishing, and the stock continues to show signs of decline. The current quota — 3.8 million pounds — is the lowest since the fishery was rationalized in 2005. “A lot of boats had to scratch their way through the season,” said Ethan Nichols, assistant area management biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. “There were only one to two large schools of legal males that were reported to us from captains out on the grounds. So the season was definitely a bit of a grind.” >click to read< 20:18

2019 PWS salmon harvest worth nearly $115 M, Statewide, 206.9 million fish brought in $657.6 M

Preliminary harvest figures compiled by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game put the value of the statewide commercial catch of 206.9 million salmon at $657.6 million, including $114.9 million for the 57.8 million fish caught in Prince William Sound. State biologists estimated the Prince William Sound harvest to include 18,399 Chinooks, averaging 18.42 pounds each, garnering fishermen an average,,, >click to read< 13:58

Solutions sought to ease conflicts over Southeast Alaska’s rising sea otter populations

A hundred years ago, the fur trade wiped out sea otters in Southeast Alaska. They were reintroduced in the 1960s with 412 animals brought from Amchitka Island and Prince William Sound. Since then, they’ve done really well. The last official estimate in 2012 shows that there are more than 25,000 of them. But their success has changed their environment as they’re a keystone species. “Many of those effects are really disruptive to the existing, you know, commercial activities like shell fisheries that have developed.” >click to read< 07:57

Red King Crab Quota Down 12% As Stock Trends ‘Toward Fishery Closure Thresholds’

Commercial fishing opens Tuesday, Oct. 15 for Bristol Bay red king crab. This season, the declining population has forced managers to set the total allowable catch (TAC) at 3.8 million pounds. That number is 12 percent lower than last year, as well as the lowest since the fishery was rationalized in 2005. Even if fishermen catch all of the TAC, it’ll be the smallest harvest since 1982. “This is not good news,” said biologist Ben Daly of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. “We’re trending toward fishery closure thresholds.” >click to read< 15:11

The failed ban

The coming year marks the 30th anniversary of the state of Alaska’s attempt to control world salmon markets by banning fish farming in the 49th state. It would seem an appropriate time to review what has happened since then: Farmed salmon production, a meager 271,000 tonnes per year at the time of the 1990 ban, has grown to more than 2.2 million tonnes per year – a more than eight-fold increase. Bristol Bay sockeye salmon that spent the late 1980s trading near an average, annual price of $2 per pound ($4.24 per pound in 2019 dollars, according to the federal inflation calculator) is now worth $1.35 per pound or about 32 percent of its pre-ban value , according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game figures. >click to read< 13:00

Prince William Sound season’s catch nears 56 million fish, statewide harvest now tops 201 million salmon

Statewide preliminary data compiled by ADF&G showed an overall harvest of 201 million fish, including 124.8 million pink, 55.3 million sockeye, 17.3 million chum, 3.4 million coho and 273,000 Chinook salmon. With the addition of some 100,000 fish last week, the 2019 Alaska commercial salmon season is nearly complete, noted Garrett Evridge of the McDowell Group, who compiles weekly commercial salmon reports in season on behalf of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute. >click to read<  10:47

Coho harvests still coming from gillnet fishery

Coho harvests in Prince William Sound rose to 497,000 fish this week as drift gillnetters in the Coghill district made dozens of deliveries, and the Sound’s overall preliminary wild salmon deliveries hit 55.8 million fish. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Cordova office opened the Coghill District for an 84-hour driftnet fishing period on Sept. 17 in the wake of a 60-hour period that opened on Sept. 12, while the purse seine fisheries remained closed. >click to read<  14:51

Humpy catch ends, coho opener wait for rain

“We still haven’t gotten a lot of rain, so we’re tracking behind in escapement and the (coho) commercial harvest is below anticipated,” said Jeremy Botz, gillnet area management biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Cordova. “We had been fishing once a week and now we have been closed for more than a week.” The last opener for coho salmon was Sept. 2. >click to read< 12:59

Statewide harvest, boosted by the pink catch, rises to nearly 185M fish

A promise of rain loomed for Sept. 1-3, and temperatures cooled, but with no rain leading up to the Labor Day weekend holiday, a lot of pink salmon were still ending up dying off before spawning in Prince William Sound.“With low water the fish can’t enter the streams,”,,, It happens in some streams every year, but this year has been more intense, with little to no rain and drought conditions. Still compared to where the harvest stood on Aug. 6 there’s been quite a bit of improvement,,, >click to read< 14:11

Longtime lobbyist accused of fishing over the line

A fishing industry lobbyist has had his 41-ton salmon catch confiscated for allegedly fishing in closed waters near Sitka. Bob Thorstenson Jr., a former executive director of Southeast Alaska Seiners Association, was commercial fishing Sunday in Crawfish Inlet when wildlife troopers say he came within 200 yards of a stream. Alaska Department of Fish and Game area biologist Eric Coonradt told CoastAlaska that drought conditions have made the native pink salmon especially vulnerable near freshwater streams. >click to read< 21:41

Prince William Sound humpy harvest late, compressed but strong

Commercial harvests of humpies in Prince William Sound rose to over 34 million fish through Tuesday, Aug. 20, up nearly 12 million fish in seven days, while the overall salmon harvest for the Sound rose from 30.5 million to nearly 42 million for the same period. Still the pink salmon harvest remains late and compressed for wild stocks and the Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corp. run, said Charlie Russell, seine area management biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Cordova. “The most likely culprit is the record heat wave and drought conditions that have affected much of Alaska,” >click to read< 12:39

The Associated Press reported erroneously,,, Correction: Alaska-Salmon Hatcheries story

In a story Aug. 11 (Scientists warn of too many pink salmon in North Pacific) >click< about Alaska salmon hatcheries, The Associated Press reported erroneously that Alaska salmon hatcheries release 1.8 billion pink salmon fry annually. Total Alaska hatchery releases of all salmon and rainbow trout in 2018 was 1.8 billion fish, with pink salmon accounting for more than 1.05 billion. A corrected version of the story is below: Pink salmon numbers may threaten other North Pacific species >click to read<  13:47

Prince William Sound Pink salmon fishery back in business

Pink salmon commercial harvests are still below forecasts, but even with no prospect of rain predicted so far until Aug. 22, the catch in Prince William Sound rose from 17.6 million to 22.2 million within the past week. Preliminary harvest figures posted by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game showed that 22,904,000 pinks comprised the bulk of the overall Prince William Sound harvest as of Aug. 14. The rest of the overall catch to date of 30.5 million fish in the Sound’s commercial harvest includes 5,026,000 chum, 2,526,000 sockeyes, 18,000 Chinook and 15,000 coho salmon. >click to read< 13:13

Sockeye harvests wind down; pinks and chums slow going

As Alaska’s salmon fisheries transition away from sockeye and kings to pinks and chums, the harvest results so far look mixed. May, June and July are the main harvest months for sockeye salmon across Alaska, beginning in Prince William Sound and reaching a crescendo in Bristol Bay throughout July. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game forecasted a total sockeye harvest of 41.7 million sockeye salmon for the 2019 season. Some sockeye are still being harvested, but as of Aug. 11, the count stood at 53.7 million sockeye, more than 43.1 million of which came from Bristol Bay. Bristol Bay’s harvest blows away even the large harvest from 2018 of 41.7 million,,, >click to read< 10:07

Scientists warn of too many pink salmon in North Pacific

Biological oceanographer Sonia Batten experienced her lightbulb moment on the perils of too many salmon three years ago as she prepared a talk on the most important North Pacific seafood you’ll never see on a plate, zooplankton. Zooplanktons nourish everything from juvenile salmon to seabirds to giant whales. But as Batten examined 15 years of data collected by instruments on container ships near the Aleutian Islands, she noticed a trend: zooplankton was abundant in even-number years and less abundant in odd-number years. Something was stripping a basic building block in the food web every other year. And just one predator fit that profile. >click to read< 15:47

Coho salmon closures on tap for Southeast commercial trollers

Commercial salmon trollers in Southeast can expect a region-wide fishing closure for coho salmon in August. One part of the region is already being shut down because of low coho numbers. But a second king salmon opening is likely to keep the fleet on the water. Trollers have been targeting coho and chum salmon since the end of the five day opening for king salmon at the beginning of July. >click to read<  21:29

Bristol Bay sockeye harvest blowing away forecast once again

Bristol Bay is approaching the record for sockeye salmon harvest once again. As of July 21, fishermen in Bristol Bay’s five districts had harvested just more than 42 million salmon. More than 41.5 million of those were sockeye, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game; that’s already more than the 41.3 million sockeye harvested in 2018, the second-largest harvest on record. The largest harvest on record, which occurred in 1995, still stands at 44.2 million sockeye. >click to read< 09:40

Humpy catch hits 7.4M

Humpy harvests in Prince William Sound jumped from 3.4 million to 7.4 million, as the overall wild salmon harvest for the Sound rose to over 14 million fish. Along with the growing pink salmon harvests, area processors have received 4,386,000 chum, 2,120,000 sockeye, 18,000 Chinook and about 1,000 cohos through July 16, according to the latest preliminary Alaska commercial salmon harvest report updated daily during the season by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. It’s been a good season for setnetters and drift gillnetters, according to Jeremy Botz, gillnet area management biologist at Cordova with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. >click to read< 13:19

Cook Inlet salmon fisheries into full swing after rough 2018

Upper Cook Inlet salmon fisheries are now in full swing, with promising sockeye returns finally showing up. East Side setnetters in the sections north of Kasilof opened for their first period July 8, and the personal-use dipnet fishery on the Kenai River opened July 10. They join the drift gillnet fleet and other Upper Cook Inlet setnetters as well as the inriver sportfishery and the Kasilof River personal-use fishery. As of July 8, nearly 80,000 sockeye salmon had passed the sonar in the Kenai River. That’s more than double the number that had passed through on the previous date in 2018, when only 37,513 had passed, according to the Alaska Departm,,, >click to read< 15:31

‘Unheard of’ flood of pinks surprises at Alaska Peninsula

The biggest fish story for Alaska’s salmon season so far is the early plug of pinks at the South Alaska Peninsula. By June 28, more than 8 million pink salmon were taken there out of a statewide catch of just more than 8.5 million. Previously, a catch of 2.5 million pinks at the South Peninsula in 2016 was the record for June and last year’s catch was just 1.7 million Managers at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game at Sand Point said at this pace, this month’s catch could near 10 million pinks. By Laine Welch,  >click to read< 11:53

Harvest numbers are mixed as season gets underway. Meanwhile, PWS wild salmon harvest tops 1.5M fish

Prince William Sound landings of wild Alaska salmon have been strong, as the fishery gets under way. Meanwhile sockeye production in Kodiak, Cook Inlet and Chignik is off to a slow start, fisheries economist Garrett Evridge says in his first harvest report of the season. “Year-to-date statewide harvest of sockeye is more than three times the prior year,” said Evridge, an economist with the McDowell Group, >click to read<14:08

PWS wild salmon harvest tops 1.5M fish – As more areas of Prince William Sound opened for commercial fishing, preliminary data compiled by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game put the catch at 1.5 million salmon through June 18, including some 813,942 fish caught in the Copper River. >click to read<

Early numbers show strong start for commercial sockeye salmon harvest in Prince William Sound

Commercial sockeye salmon fishing in Prince William Sound is off to a strong start, while it’s weaker in a handful of other fisheries, according to Anchorage consulting firm the McDowell Group. The statewide sockeye harvest of 696,000 fish through June 8 was more than three times what it was at the same time in 2018, according to numbers the McDowell Group prepared for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute. Most of that harvest ⁠— 607,000 fish ⁠— was in Prince William Sound. Kodiak, Cook Inlet and Chignik fisheries were off to a slow start, McDowell economist Garrett Evridge said. Pink salmon numbers spiked in the second week of June, >click to read<10:38

Concern in Chignik, as escapement gets off to a slow start

Staff with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game began counting sockeye salmon on June 1. So far, the numbers haven’t been promising – as of today the department had counted a total of 3,374 fish. “That’s a little slow for here. There have been years when we get off to a slow start and have a decent year. But following a year like 2018, everyone’s concerned,” said Dawn Wilburn, an area management biologist with ADF&G. She says Chignik’s run failed to develop as predicted in 2018. Only 539,825 reds returned, and there were no commercial fishing openers. >click to read<09:12

Copper River sockeye show up early, give optimism for fleet

Copper River fishermen are getting a nice change of pace from the last two years this season as the sockeye run is shaping up better than expected so far. As of June 2, approximately 240,234 sockeye salmon had passed the sonar at Miles Lake on the Copper River, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. That’s about 65,000 more fish than the cumulative management objective so far on the river, which is based on average past escapements. It’s definitely better than in 2017 and 2018, when slow and weak sockeye runs kept commercial fishermen at the docks as managers struggled to make escapements. On the same date in 2018, only 55,840 sockeye had passed the sonar. (click to read)14:39

Copper River salmon harvest flows into marketplace

Since the Copper River salmon commercial fishery opened on May 16, harvesters have brought in upwards of 180,000 fish. Preliminary data compiled by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s office in Cordova as of Tuesday, May 28, put the count at upwards of 168,336 red, 7,041 king and 4,710 chum salmon brought in during a total of 1,764 deliveries by the drift gillnet fleet.,,, Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle had whole Copper River kings for $39.95 a pound, Copper River king fillets for $49.99 a pound, Copper River sockeyes at $99.95 per fish and Copper River sockeye fillets for $29.99 a pound. >click to read<17:30

ADFG proposes sweeping changes to Cook Inlet salmon goals

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s recommendations for salmon escapement goal ranges in Upper Cook Inlet are out significantly earlier than they have been in past years. Upper Cook Inlet, which reaches north from the Kasilof River, encompasses a number of heavily fished salmon stocks, including the Kenai and Susitna rivers. ADFG reviews the escapement goal ranges for the rivers every three years or so and makes recommendations before the Board of Fisheries takes up the proposals for the area during the in-cycle meeting. >click to read<14:59

Southeast pink salmon forecast cause for concern

As the days grow longer and summer plans start to materialize, 18 million is a number on the mind of many across Southeast Alaska, especially those in numerous industries that rely on salmon fishing. Eighteen million is the number of pink salmon the Southeast forecast shows could be harvested in the 2019 commercial fishing season.,, “Salmon is the biggest portion of my income for sure,” said Stan Savland, commercial fisherman out of Hoonah and 20-year seiner. “The forecast is very alarming. I’m worried about this season because our recent odd year cycles are really what’s been carrying the seine fleet to make it.” >click to read<13:00

Prince William Sound Tanner crab fishery gives winter season a boost

A rejuvenated Tanner crab fishery in Prince William Sound is showing positive signs of finishing out its second season in 30 years. The fishery opened for the first time since 1988 in 2017, operating on commissioners permits. A test fishery operated as an information-gathering pot fishery in the area in 2016 to a limited number of vessels. Based on Alaska Department of Fish and Game survey data, the stocks were good to go for another season this year, opening March 1 and closing either by EO or on March 31. So far, 11 vessels have landed about 16,850 Tanner,,, >click to read<09:37