2022 salmon harvest summary shows record year for sockeye salmon in Bristol Bay

While the sockeye salmon harvest boasted large gains for 2022, the all species harvest tells a different story.
Published: Dec. 30, 2022 at 2:40 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Sockeye salmon had a record harvest in 2022, even though the statewide all species harvest saw a decrease in both value and total fish harvested.

Down by nearly 200 permit holders, the 2022 Alaska commercial salmon harvest brought in smaller numbers in total. However the losses were not as large as they could have been due to a record harvest for sockeye salmon. Bristol Bay specifically saw the biggest harvest for sockeye, producing the record catch while other areas in the state also caught less sockeye.

“Conditions in the Bering Sea have been favorable for sockeye salmon productivity,” said Forrest Bowers, the division operations manager with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Bowers explained that warmer winters have made for a favorable rearing environment in the Bering Sea and fresh water lakes.

The sockeye harvest was 81% higher in 2002 than the annual average of 43.6 million fish, seeing a harvest of over 74 million fish. The large catch of sockeye also helped limit the loss in value for the all species harvest contributing to 66% of the value. “Sockeye salmon are valued in the market... because of their high quality as a food fish,” said Bowers. Sockeye offer a dark red meat with good flavor and they tend to freeze well according to Bowers. This makes them a popular choice for markets and restaurants. Sockeye made up just less than half of the all species harvest, however the value they produced was about $474 million.

While the sockeye harvest was large, the pink salmon harvest was down. Pink salmon only made up 43% of the 2022 harvest but, “typically... pink salmon represent the largest contributor to salmon harvest volume statewide,” said Bowers. In 2021 about 156 million pinks were harvest. This played a huge part in the 31% decrease in total harvest numbers for 2022.

In 2022, over 160 million fish were harvested, yet in 2021 the harvest total was about 234 million fish.

Contributions from chum salmon account for 9% of the harvest valued at $100 million. “Typically chinook is the lowest volume,” said Bowers, that species making up the smallest harvest for 2022 coming in at 310,000 fish. Coho salmon gathered a higher harvest but had the lowest value contribution.

The 2022 harvest produced a value of about $720 million where as the 2021 harvest reached a value of about $786 million.