Fishing for pinks has been really up and down the last few years. In 2014 the catch was really low, and then 2015 it was amazing with more than we had ever seen before. This year's pink salmon return again, was really bad.
Observation: Where did all the pinks go? We were fishing for salmon last summer on a 58 feet limit seiner, at Red Bluff on the back (east) side of Popof Island. Fishing for pinks has been really up and down the last few years. In 2014 the catch was really low, and then 2015 it was amazing with more than we had ever seen before. However, this year's pink salmon return again, was really bad. It's like the pinks just didn't show up. Local fishermen noticed the water was warmer last summer then normal. We think that's potentially why we didn't get the salmon run we usually do.
LEO says: There were other observations of low salmon returns this year, including one from Unalakleet. See related posts. This observations was shared with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game commercial division.
Alaska Department of Fish and Game Consult: (2017-04-12) Elisabeth Fox, Fishery Biologist III, "There is a correlation between huge pink years followed by poor pink years, as we saw in the 2015 (one of the largest on record) and 2016 (one of the poorest on record) seasons. The reports about pinks and the harvest information both support that although few pink salmon returned in 2016, the fish that did return were on average much larger than other years." Source: Commercial Fisheries Division, ADF&G
LEO Member comment: John Henry from Unalakleet Traditional Council adds: "Native Village of Unalakleet, John Henry: Commercial fisherman have expressed similar concerns here in Unalakleet for last year's fish season."
Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) – "Pink salmon have the shortest lifespan of all the Pacific salmon found in North America. They mature and complete their entire life cycle in two years. This predictable two-year life cycle has created genetically distinct odd-year and even-year populations of pink salmon. Fish coming in odd years are unrelated to the individuals returning in even years." (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha)
Commercial Salmon Fisheries – Preliminary 2017 Westward Region Salmon Forecast Available. Source: Commercial Salmon Fisheries, Alaska Peninsula Management Area, ADF&G