This year's commercial salmon season was the eighth-highest fish harvest since 1975, but ranked 25th in value to fishermen, according to the state Department of Fish and Game.
The preliminary salmon harvest report, released Wednesday, documents a total catch of 173 million fish for an ex-vessel value of $195 million. The ex-vessel value is the price fishermen are paid for their catch. Last year the catch was 131 million fish for a total value of $162.5 million, said Mike Plotnick, a research analyst for Fish and Game's Commercial Fisheries Division.
Plotnick said the 2003 catch value was the 25th lowest since 1975. The numbers have not been adjusted for inflation, he said.
In Southeast, the catch was 66 million fish, up about 15 percent from last year. The ex-vessel value only rose 1.6 percent, to $51 million.
The disparity is because of a significant drop in value of chum salmon, said Scott Kelley, regional management coordinator for the Commercial Fisheries Division. Kelley said the average chum price was 19 cents per pound in 2003, down from more than 30 cents in 2002.
"A lot of the value (of chum) is in the roe, and there was a softening in the market of roe," Kelley said.
Another factor in the drop in Southeast value was a dramatic drop in value of troll-caught chinook between the winter and the summer.
"It dropped because of a substantial king salmon harvest in the Lower 48. Washington, Oregon and California had a large harvest," Kelley said.
He said prices for the 2003 winter troll fishery were more than $5 per pound, but dropped to 50 cents or 55 cents in early July.
Masha Herbst can be reached at email@example.com.
For more on 2003 Alaska Commercial Salmon Harvests, check out http://www.cf.adfg.state.ak.us/geninfo/finfish/salmon/catchval/blusheet/03exvesl.htm