Following top five record harvests of silver and chum salmon in the Norton Sound last year, the Alaska Department of Fish & Game is projecting even better salmon numbers for the region this summer.

This is based on ADF&G’s management plan for the Norton Sound and Port Clarence Districts, released earlier this month. For king or chinook salmon runs, the department anticipates it will be similar to 2019 numbers. Late last summer, researchers estimated this year would be a low abundance year for kings/chinook in the Norton Sound and Northern Bering Sea.

A subsistence fishing schedule will be in place from mid-June to mid-July for chinook salmon in Shaktoolik and Unalakleet subdistricts this summer. But the department says no additional restrictions will be in effect.

Coho, chum, and pink salmon runs are expected to be well above average this summer. ADF&G projects a chum harvest ranging from 180,000 fish to 230,000 fish. Meanwhile, the pink salmon harvest will depend on buyer interest but could reach up to 75,000 fish harvested. The commercial harvest for coho is expected to be 200,000 to 250,000 fish, which would be even more than last year’s top five record harvest for silvers in the Norton Sound.

ADF&G says subsistence fishing closures at Pilgrim River are not expected this year, as their escapement goal of 30,000 sockeye will most likely be reached again. But, the department does plan to limit sockeye subsistence harvest to 25 fish initially until they have the opportunity to increase or waive that limit.

The commercial fishery in the Port Clarence District, which covers all waters from Cape Douglas north to Cape Prince of Wales, is expected to remain closed this year due to a lack of buyer.

This year subsistence salmon permits can be ordered for free online, and starting June 1st, will also be available at the Nome Fish & Game office. ADF&G says their Unalakleet office will not be open because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Image at top: Chum salmon migration. Photo from USFWS/Togiak National Wildlife Refuge, used with permission (2014).