This report contains a detailed review of Alaska’s 2012 commercial salmon season as well as run forecasts and harvest projections for 2013. The Alaska all-species salmon harvest for 2012 totaled 127.1 million, which was about 5.0 million less than the preseason forecast of 132.1 million. This combined harvest was composed of 349,000 Chinook salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha, 35.4 million sockeye salmon O. nerka, 3.1 million coho salmon O. kisutch, 68.0 million pink salmon O. gorbuscha, and 20.1 million chum salmon O. keta. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is expecting a large increase in commercial salmon catches in 2013 due to the projected increase in pink salmon Oncorhynchus gorbuscha harvests. The 2013 total commercial salmon catch (all species) projection of 178.8 million is expected to include 110,000 Chinook salmon in areas outside Southeast Alaska, 34.3 million sockeye salmon, 3.9 million coho salmon, 117.8 million pink salmon, and 22.7 million chum salmon. The projected pink salmon harvest is about 73% higher than the harvest experienced in 2012 (68.0 million). The projected sockeye salmon harvest is about 1% lower than the harvest in 2012. The projected chum salmon harvest is expected to be 1% higher than the harvest in 2012.
When the appropriate data were available, harvest projections were arrived at through quantitative projections based on information on previous spawning levels, smolt outmigrations, returns of sibling age classes, and recent survival rates observed for hatchery releases. Other projections were based on averages of recent catch levels. Fishing effort influences average catch levels, and effort is partly determined by market conditions in addition to the size of salmon runs. Therefore these projections may not be indicative of potential harvest levels.