Thursday, March 08, 2007

Summer 2007

This from last months Alaska Coastal Journal.

Banner year predicted for salmon harvest
By the Journal
State projections of a 2007 salmon harvest of 179 million fish are buoying a commercial fisheries fleet hoping to feed a growing world hunger for wild Alaska salmon.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game issued its forecast Feb. 2, anticipating that the harvest will include 108 million pinks, 40.9 million sockeyes, 24.8 million chum, 4.8 million silvers and 789,000 kings.
That was good news to commercial fishermen like Robert Thorstenson Jr., executive director of the Southeast Alaska Seiners Association, and president of United Fishermen of Alaska.
“The state is predicting 47 million pinks, and the National Marine Fisheries Service is predicting 39 million,” Thorstenson said. “My prediction is 55 million pinks.”
Thorstenson and other Southeast Alaska fishers got socked by a much lower-than-expected pink salmon harvest a year ago, due to a very weak 2006 pink salmon run into Southeast Alaska. The overall pink forecast was for 108 million fish, but the harvest came in at 73 million pinks. “The lack of fish really hurt us on price because the processor costs were so high,” Thorstenson said in an interview Feb. 6. “That's what my processor told me, and that's what other fishermen were told by their processors. The processors didn't have enough production to cover their net.”
Thorstenson said he expects things to be different in 2007, and that processors will be gearing up to harvest the big run.
Fisheries economist Chris McDowell in Juneau, also a commercial fisherman, agreed that in all likelihood the processing sector would rise to the occasion. “We saw that in 2005,” McDowell said.
“We have had a series of enormous pink returns, but the question has been how many fish will the market bear. Considering the recent increase in demand for pinks on the world market, I think we will see fairly strong market demand,” he said.
McDowell was also optimistic about markets for sockeye, cohos, chums and the ever-popular kings, which garnered fishermen $2.77 a pound at the docks last year, the highest prices on record for years.
“It speaks to the health of the market for wild salmon,” he said.

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