Pink salmon season forecast looks positive

Pink salmon splashes through shallows. (K. Sowl / Alaska Region U.S. Fish and Wildlife)

It looks like numbers at this early point in the pink salmon season are settling back into a normal pattern for the Kodiak region.

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The pink season in the Gulf of Alaska was so bad in 2016 that the federal government issued a disaster declaration for the fishery.

The second week opener closed on a strong note.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game Area Management Biologist, James Jackson, says at the same time last year fishermen had harvested about 200,000 pinks.

This year Jackson said they closed on July 17 with about 900,000 pinks.

That’s factoring in the odd and even years that characterize pink salmons’ two-year life cycle, which Jackson said yields very different results in Kodiak. This in an odd year, which Jackson said comes with a five-year average of 26 million.

Jackson said while the overall 2017 pink run forecast is 28 million pinks, Fish and Game is projecting a harvest of 20 million pinks based on numbers from the second opener.

Jackson said this year isn’t as strong 2015.

“But we’re pretty much catching the same numbers at 2013, which was also a good year, but keep in mind that in 2013 we caught 28,000 pinks,” Jackson said.

Jackson said the five-year average for even years is about 15 million, and last year’s harvest was just 3 million. He said by the end of third opener, Fish and Game should have a solid idea of what the run will look like.

Kodiak’s third opener is July 20 and should close on July 24.