KODIAK, Alaska — Hatchery-produced salmon accounted for 21 percent of Alaska’s commercial harvest last year, the lowest percentage since 1995, according to a state report.
The report by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game found that the smaller catch of hatchery salmon was due to the strong return of wild salmon last year, the Kodiak Daily Mirror reported.
The commercial harvest of wild salmon last year was the third highest on the state’s record. The harvests in 2013 and 2015 were the only ones higher, according to the report.
In Kodiak, 693,000 hatchery salmon were harvested in 2017, about 2 percent of the state’s total harvest. The hatchery salmon can sometimes make up about 40 percent of the harvest in the Kodiak area, said James Jackson, a department Kodiak area management biologist for salmon and herring.
“We had an amazing wild run last year,” Jackson said. “The wild pink salmon return was about as big as it gets last year.”
The role of hatcheries is to supplement salmon harvest numbers when wild stocks are low, taking the “boom and bust out of wild salmon,” he said.
“Alaskan wild salmon production is at the mercy of the Mother Nature,” Jackson said.
A contributing factor to the low harvest of hatchery salmon in the Kodiak area is the low hatchery incubation rates two years ago, said Trent Dodson, director of production and operations for the Kodiak Regional Aquaculture Association.
The fish harvested last year likely came from eggs in 2015. Dodson said many eggs were lost that year due to lacking water from a dry August and September.