Salmon catches in the North Pacific ocean remain at all time highs, and Alaska is a major player. The North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission (NPAFC) announced the catches last month, as reported by its member countries – Canada, Japan, Korea, Russia, and the U.S.
Since 1993, the Commission has promoted the conservation of chum, coho, pink, sockeye, Chinook and steelhead trout in the North Pacific, Bering Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk, and serves as a venue for coordination of research and enforcement activities.
Salmon abundance is based on combined commercial catches which in 2016 totaled nearly 440 million fish, just slightly below previous years. Catches tend to be lower in even numbered years due to lower abundance of the most predominant species – pink salmon.
Russia ranked #1 for total salmon catches, taking 51 percent, or nearly 967 million pounds. The U.S. was second at 33 percent – 617 million pounds, of that 598 million pounds came from Alaska.
Japan caught 13 percent of the North Pacific total (245m pounds), three percent by Canada (47m pounds) and less than one percent by Korea.
Pink salmon made up 41 percent of the catch totals by weight and Russia hauled in 75 percent of the pink catch.
That was followed by chums at 33 percent, sockeyes at 21 percent, coho at three percent and Chinook salmon made up one percent of the North Pacific catch.
Hatchery releases of salmon and steelhead from member countries totaled about 5.1 billion fish in 2016, similar to numbers over the last three decades.
The U.S. released 38 percent of the hatchery fish, followed closely by Japan at 37 percent and Russia at 19 percent. Sixty-five percent of the hatchery releases were chum salmon, followed by pinks at 24 percent.
Chinook, sockeye and coho salmon releases were five percent of less.