Traditional commercial net fisheries in Southeast Alaska will kick off the season Sunday.
Bill Davidson is Fish and Game’s regional coordinator for commercial fisheries in Southeast. He says he’s looking forward to a productive year for both gillnetters and seiners.
“It should be a high value fishery for the fleet and the industry participating in the fisheries if runs come in as expected and prices hold up as strong as they’ve been recently,” he says.
This year’s pink salmon harvest forecast is 54 million, which is double last year’s forecast. Since 2006, Davidson says pinks have established an every-other-year cycle of strong and weak runs.
“Last year was the weak cycle and this year’s going to be the strong cycle. But there’s always curve balls thrown at us from Mother Nature so we don’t really know until we actually get into it. We’ll be ready and industry will be ready.”
Estimates for chum salmon are higher than last year’s. The majority of chum come from hatchery programs and Davidson expects a considerable fishing effort for the species.
In contrast, the king salmon forecast is low. And Davidson isn’t sure about the sockeye run.
“The parent year for sockeye was very weak, however that really doesn’t tell us what’s going to happen this year. It could be better than it was five years ago this year, and that will just be known in season,” he says.
2011 was the highest value total salmon fishery on record in Southeast with commercial fishing boats getting $200 million. Davidson’s hopes are high and thinks this season could surpass that.