Lackluster salmon season predicted for Kodiak

Posted: Monday, April 02, 2001

KODIAK (AP) -- The state is predicting a lackluster salmon season this summer with lower projections forecast for Kodiak.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is forecasting a 2.1 million sockeye salmon harvest for Kodiak, far less than the 3.5 million sockeye projected last year.

The fleet caught 2.9 million sockeye last summer.

''Last year we had some lower than expected (sockeye) harvests, so that influenced our forecast (for 2001),'' said Kevin Brennan, the fish management biologist for Fish and Game in Kodiak.

The department is forecasting a 12 million pink salmon harvest, a slight increase over last year's preseason estimate of 10.2 million. But the fleet harvested 9.9 million pinks, slightly less than the Fish and Game projection. The 12 million forecast includes wild and hatchery returns, Brennan said.

''We're projecting a wild stock return of 6 to 10 million (pink salmon) and a hatchery return of 3 to 5 million,'' Brennan said.

The only bright spot last year in the state was the chum salmon return. Last summer, 1.2 million chum salmon returned to the Kodiak area, almost double the Fish and Game projection of 700,000 chums. This year, the chum forecast is 750,000.

Three salmon plants in remote locations on Kodiak Island, Cook Inlet Processing in Uganik Bay, Kodiak Salmon Packers in Larsen Bay and Wards Cove Packing in Alitak Bay, plan to process salmon this summer.

''We're going to be in there the beginning of April,'' said John Jorgensen, vice president of Wards Cove. ''Herring, halibut, black cod, salmon if it swims, well buy it,'' he said.

Several buyers in Bristol Bay are bailing out of the market this year, including UniSea Seafoods, New West and Inlet Salmon. That still leaves several big players including Peter Pan Seafoods, Icicle Seafoods, Trident Seafoods, Norquest, North Pacific Processors, Alaska General Seafoods, Ocean Beauty Seafoods and Wards Cove Packing competing for the 16 million sockeye run projected for 2001.

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