Area M Salmon Season Round Up
By Evan W. and Jillian B., Seniors at Sand Point School
The AK Peninsula, named by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game as Area M, recorded the 2nd overall salmon catch on record for 2015. Even with vessels on catch limits, the season featured a record-breaking haul of nearly 16.7 million pink salmon. Despite the catch records, low prices this season significantly impacted profits fleet-wide.
In Sand Point, fishing is not just the primary economic activity, it is a family business that is passed down through generations.
Evan has been fishing since he was six years old, and got to experience the 2015 salmon harvest on board the F/V Celtic, a 58’ hansen purse seiner fishing out of Sand Point. Of all the seasons he’s had this was something special….
I remember waking up to at least 10 boats waiting to make one set so they could go home. With all their lights on, it looked like the sun was rising. Once it was our turn to make a set we knew what was coming: a lot of fish, so we were excited to make the set. We got to the wedge of our net and all we could see was this huge ball of fish and when we started rolling them aboard. It seemed like it was never ending. The rails of the boat were under water at times and the deck was full of pinks it was just unreal to catch that many in one set.
Comparatively, the 1995 season holds Area M’s overall salmon catch record of 24.8 million fish;
Danny Cumberlidge, Evan’s father (who at the time was nearly the same age), remembers the season from 20 years ago very well.
The 1995 salmon season was a large year, we had a lot of humpies come back and return that year. It was probably one of the better returns we had above probably the 10 year average. Prices for the season in 1995…. We actually had a better price than what we had this year. In 1995 I think we got paid somewhere in the ballpark of $1.20 a pound for sockeye vs the $.75 this year. The pinks… I believe it was in the higher 20’s [cents per pound] closer to 30’s low 30’s [cents per pound] in 95 vs. this year it was 20 [cents per pound] the fish was quite a bit higher.
[Reporting from KSDP I’m Jillian and I’m Evan, Thanks for listening]