By Wyatt Fournier, NOAA Fisheries, on the Northwest Explorer
Our salmon catches on the Western Gulf of Alaska grid consist mostly of juvenile pink salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha) and adult, both immature and mature, chum salmon (O. keta). The pink salmon is known as the “humpy” salmon due to the male’s body morphology during spawning, and the chum has been called the “dog” salmon because of its traditional use as sled dog food. These two species are the most numerous of any Pacific salmonid and are of great commercial importance to the state of Alaska. It is likely that a majority of the pinks and chums that we intercept are of hatchery origin. The state of Alaska has a successful history of producing hatchery-born, ocean-raised wild salmon for commercial, sport, personal use and subsistence fisheries. Pacific salmon will gain over 90% of their biomass in the marine environment, feeding upon energy rich prey in the highly productive Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea.