A boat leaves Wrangell’s Heritage Harbor, October 2022.
(Sage Smiley / KSTK)

Southeast’s commercial salmon harvest was half as big as last year’s, but netted fishermen more money. That’s according to a preliminary 2022 harvest report released by the Alaska Department of Fish & Game on Thursday (November 10). 

Commercial fisherman in Southeast hauled in just over 29 million fish across the five salmon species during the 2022 season – 17.5 million pink salmon, 9.3 million chum, 1.2 million coho, 1.1 million sockeye, and 257,000 king salmon.

Even though the total harvest was half of last year’s (58 million catch), the total value at the docks for Southeast increased by $12 million this year, to $144 million. That rise in value came primarily because the price per pound of chum salmon increased by half this year compared to last year, at a region-wide average of $1.18 per pound. 

Sockeye also had an 18-cent increase per pound this year. But the other three species had lower prices than in 2021. 

The drop in overall harvest numbers can mostly be attributed to a drop in pink salmon harvest. It’s an even-numbered year, when less pinks return to the passages of Southeast. Even still, Southeast fishermen caught 10 million more pinks than the last even-numbered year, 2020

Every other species saw harvest increases, including the embattled Southeast king salmon population – fishermen landed 40,000 more kings than in 2021. Southeast harvested more than 80% of the king salmon statewide this year. 

Chum salmon had the largest harvest increase in the region, jumping over 2 million fish and more than $40 million dollars in value.

Statewide, ADF&G reports this is the largest even-year salmon harvest since 2010, and close to the long-term average harvest of 167 million fish (this year was 160.7 million statewide). The total exvessel value this year is the 24th-lowest on record in Alaska. 

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