Southeast Alaska's commercial salmon harvest in 2004 hit records and then some, state biologists reported.
Perhaps most encouraging to Southeast fishermen is that the ex-vessel value of the total harvest increased at least 40 percent over 2003, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
The value of the harvest could be 10 percent to 20 percent higher than the department's preliminary estimate. The actual ex-vessel value will be calculated by the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission once it receives final reports from seafood processors.
The 2004 king salmon harvest of 484,000 fish is the highest chinook salmon harvest on record since statehood and is almost twice the 10-year average.
The 2004 sockeye salmon harvest of 2 million fish ranks fourth-highest in the past 10 years and ninth-largest since statehood.
The pink and chum salmon harvests also experienced reasonably good returns and "more of the same" is expected for the pink salmon harvest in 2005, said Doug Eggers, a fisheries scientist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
In 2004, purse seiners landed 80 percent of the total salmon harvest of about 62 million fish. Seiners netted 95 percent of the pink, 44 percent of the sockeye and 50 percent of the chum salmon harvested.
According to the department's preliminary review of the Southeast commercial salmon fisheries, escapements to Southeast rivers and streams were excellent, including a record-high escapement to the Stikine River.
Elizabeth Bluemink can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.