The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has announced 2011 statewide commercial salmon harvest forecast totals of about 203 million salmon of all species. The statewide forecast is broken down into 44.7 million sockeye salmon, 4.6 million coho salmon, 134.5 million pink salmon and 19.5 million chum salmon.
The Southeast region’s portions of these projections are 1.2 million sockeye, 2.4 million coho, 55 million pink salmon and 10.1 million chum.
ADF&G states this would be the state’s fifth largest total harvest, and fourth highest pink salmon harvest, since Alaska became a state and took over the management of its fisheries in 1960.
Geron Bruce of the Commercial Fisheries Division said this year’s large forecast is driven largely by pink salmon, saying “All major pink salmon producing areas are expected to have very abundant returns.”
The Southeast pink salmon projection is considerably larger than past averages. The average from 1999 to 2008 was 44 million a year.
The other salmon averages from that same period were 1.4 million for sockeyes, 2.7 million for coho and 10.8 million for chum, all of which are close to the 2011 forecast.
The chinook salmon forecast is not yet available. Bruce said the those numbers are set by the Pacific Salmon Commission and will be released in late March or early April. The 1999-2008 Southeast yearly average for Chinook was 335,000.
The forecasts are based on a combination of quantitative analyses and models using information from previous spawning levels, smolt outmigrations, returns of sibling age classes and recent survival rates observed for hatchery releases. Other projections, like sockeye numbers, are derived from long-term historical trends.
More harvest information, postseason statistics and other information can be found at http://bit.ly/eVr6el.
• Contact reporter Jonathan Grass at 523-2276 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.