The Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADFG) on Tuesday projected a sharp decline in the catch of Copper River sockeye, one of the world's most valuable wild salmon, whose early-season catches fetch astronomical prices early in the market.
The state fisheries regulators forecast a total harvest of Copper River sockeye of 970,000 fish, down 23 percent from the 2019 overall harvest, and 25 percent below the 10-year average. The common commercial property harvest is projected to be 771,000 fish.
Though ADFG forecasts tend to be remarkably accurate, regulators cautioned that the projections are "inherently uncertain."
For example, last year's Copper River sockeye projections missed badly: the catch reached 1.27 million fish, an 83 percent jump over initial projections of 756,000.
The overall return of Copper River sockeye is projected to be 1.42 million fish, down sharply from the 10-year average of 2.1 million fish.
The harvest projection for Copper River king salmon, which fetch arguably the highest price of any wild salmon each year, is a more positive picture.
A catch of 36,000 fish is projected based on a higher-than-average return of the fish.
The total value of all commercial salmon harvests -- a total of around 206.9 million fish -- in Alaska in 2019 was around $657.6 million (€596.5 million), a 10 percent increase over the year prior.