28 aquaculture hatcheries are instrumental in Alaska’s salmon fisheries enhancement programme; ADF&G 2016 report figures

Excerpted from the latest Alaska fisheries enhancement annual report 2016 by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G):

In 2016, Alaska hatcheries contributed an estimated 24 million fish to the commercial fishery (Figure 4; Table 5). Hatchery fish made up 22% of the statewide commercial salmon harvest of 109 million fish. This is the lowest hatchery harvest since 1992, and is primarily due to the low pink salmon returns to Prince William Sound, which on average made up about 70% of the total statewide hatchery harvest in the previous decade (2006–015). About 34% (8.2 million fish) of the total commercial hatchery harvest fish were harvested for cost recovery to pay for hatchery operations (Table 5). This was greater than the previous decadal (2006–2015) average of 22% of the commercial harvest, and was again due to the low returns of pink salmon to Prince William Sound.


The statewide exvessel value of the commercial hatchery harvest was $85 million (Figures 4 and 5; Table 6), which was the lowest value since 2005. The hatchery harvest contributed an estimated 21% of the statewide harvest exvessel value. Chum salmon accounted for 58% of the value of the hatchery harvest, followed by sockeye (18%), pink (15%), coho (6%), and Chinook salmon (3%; Figure 5). The first wholesale value of the 2016 hatchery harvest was estimated at $187 million (Figure 4).


About 227,000 hatchery-produced salmon, rainbow trout, arctic char, and grayling were harvested by sport, personal use, and subsistence users in 2016 (Table 7). Hatchery-produced sockeye salmon were the greatest part of this harvest (86,000 fish), followed by coho salmon (72,000 fish), rainbow trout (34,000 fish), pink salmon (12,000 fish), Chinook salmon (10,000 fish), landlocked salmon (7,000 fish), chum salmon (3,000 fish), arctic char (2,000 fish), and grayling (1,000 fish).


Stopha, M. (2017). Alaska fisheries enhancement annual report 2016. Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Division of Commercial Fisheries, Regional Information Report 5J17-04, Anchorage. http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/FedAidPDFs/RIR.5J.2017.04.pdf



This annual report reviews the Alaska salmon fisheries enhancement program. The success of this program is attributable to the development of statutes, regulations, and policies that require hatcheries to be located away from important natural salmon stocks and to use local broodstock sources. To maintain genetic diversity, Alaska hatcheries do not selectively breed for size or other trait and use large numbers of broodstock for production. Nearly all hatchery releases are marked so that fisheries managers can estimate the strength of wild stocks in the catch and manage wild stocks conservatively. Currently, 28 salmon hatcheries are operating in the state. Most (24 facilities) are operated by private nonprofit corporations, which are funded primarily from the harvest of a portion of hatchery returns. Two additional sport fish hatcheries are operated by the state, one research hatchery by the National Marine Fisheries Service, and one hatchery by the Metlakatla Indian Community. About 27 million adult salmon returned to Alaska hatcheries in 2016, which was the lowest hatchery return since 1992. The exvessel value of the commercial hatchery harvest was an estimated $85 million, and represented 21% of the exvessel value of the statewide salmon harvest. About 227,000 Alaska hatchery fish were caught in the sport, personal use and subsistence fisheries. Hatchery production in Alaska is intended to supplement—not replace—wild stock production. There are no stocks of concern in Prince William Sound or Southeast Alaska, indicating that adequate escapements to wild stock systems are being met over time in areas with the most hatchery production. Abundance-based wild stock management priority and habitat protection reflect the state’s commitment to conservation of wild stocks and provide the foundation of its salmon fisheries enhancement program. Key words: Alaska salmon hatchery, hatchery, pink salmon, chum salmon, Chinook salmon, coho salmon, sockeye salmon