March 16, 2017 d
Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corporation hatchery
This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – Alaska’s hatcheries also had a salmon slump. More after this –
Last year’s Alaska salmon catches fell short for all but sockeyes and the slump hit state hatcheries hard.
Typically, more than one-third of Alaska’s total salmon harvest and value include fish that start out as eggs from wild stocks reared in hatcheries – mostly pinks and chums -and released as fingerlings to the sea.
About 27 million adult salmon returned to Alaska’s 28 hatcheries last summer dotted throughout Prince William Sound, Southeast and Kodiak. That was less than half of the forecast and the lowest return since 1992.
From that, the hatchery catch plummeted to 24 million salmon, or just 22 percent of the statewide harvest, again the lowest since 1992. The dockside value of the hatchery fish at $85 million was the lowest since 2005.
It was low returns of pink salmon that caused the hatchery crash, primarily at the largest producer: Prince William Sound, which on average has produced 70 percent of the total statewide hatchery harvest in the previous decade. Last year, pinks accounted for just 15 percent of the total hatchery take.
Alaska’s hatcheries are operated by private nonprofit corporations, and funded primarily from the harvest of a portion of hatchery returns. ADF&G operates 2 sport fish hatcheries in Anchorage and Fairbanks. About 120 schools also grow salmon eggs in incubators until they are released to the wild.
Alaska hatchery operators forecast a return of about 67 million fish in 2017.