Salmon, Chinook, King Salmon

Oncorhynchus tshawytscha

Method of production — Caught at sea
Capture method — All applicable methods
Capture area — North East Pacific (FAO 67)
Stock area — Alaska
Stock detail — Southeast
Certification — Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and or FAO-Based Responsible Fisheries Management (RFM) Certification Programme
Picture of Salmon, Chinook, King Salmon

Sustainability rating two info

Sustainability overview

Although the Chinook salmon has disappeared from some areas of its range, and despite some longer term concerns, Alaskan stocks in particular are considered to be well managed and sustainable. Chinook salmon certified to the FAO-Based Responsible Fisheries Management (RFM) Certification Programme or to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Standard is the best choice for wild Pacific Chinook salmon.


Pacific salmon occur from California, north along the Pacific coast throughout the Pacific Ocean, Bering Sea and Arctic Ocean waters adjacent to Alaska. The five species (chinook, chum, coho, pink and sockeye) are members of a large family of fish known as salmonidae, which are abundant throughout the temperate zones of the northern and southern Hemispheres. Pacific salmon are a shorter lived species and much more prolific breeders than Atlantic salmon.
The Chinook is the least abundant of the five species of Pacific salmon. It is Alaska’ s state fish, one of the most important sport and commercial fish native to the pacific coast of North America. The Chinook’ s range in North America is from Southern California’ s Ventura River, north to the Coppermine river in the Canadian Arctic. It also occurs in Asia, from Hokkaido (Japan) to the Andyr river in Siberia, with the main population centred around Russia’ s Kamchatka peninsula. The North American Chinook is considerably more abundant than the Asian Chinook. The Chinook is the largest of the Pacific salmon species and has a greater variety of life history and life span, spending between 1 and 7 years at sea, typically growing to 36 inches (91 cms), and often greater than 30 lbs (13 Kg). The Chinook are both anadromous and semelparous, i.e. they spend most of their lives in the ocean, returning to fresh water to breed, and they die after spawning (2000 -17,000 eggs per female). Although most migration to spawning sites occurs during summer and autumn, the Chinook continues to migrate during the winter months. Many rivers have more than one Chinook stock. Chinook juveniles are either ‘ocean’ type or ‘stream’ type, with the ocean juveniles migrating to the ocean in their first year and the stream type spending a full year in freshwater before migrating to the ocean in the spring of their second year. Once in the ocean they grow rapidly and can double their weight during a single summer season. Alaskan salmon accounts for more than 90% of all North American wild salmon.

Stock information

Stock Area


Stock information

Between 1970 and 2006 the average Alaskan Chinook salmon harvest was 630,000 fish. The 2013 Alaskan harvest was the largest on record with strong runs and a harvest of 538,000 Chinooks out of a total salmon harvest of 133.1 million fish forecast for 2014. Chinook salmon is considered to be fully fished and not as abundant when compared to other Pacific salmon species. Some Alaskan Chinook stocks are in decline while others are at equilibrium or increasing. Wild populations of Chinook salmon have disappeared from many areas, particularly in Californian, Pacific Northwestern, and British Columbian waters. Concerns are low in Alaska but medium to high in other areas. Threats include: overfishing, dams, habitat loss and degradation, and climate change.


Alaska’s state constitution includes a mandate that “fish…be utilized developed and maintained on the sustained yield principle”. The Alaska Pacific salmon fisheries occur within US territorial waters adjacent to the coast of the State of Alaska, and are managed principally by staff of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG). The Alaska Board of Fisheries establishes regulations based upon scientific and technical advice provided by the Alaska Department of Fisheries and Game (ADFG). Following State constitution, management measures implemented include: establishing open and closed seasons, in season (realtime) management by virtue of Emergency Orders, setting quotas, bag limits, harvest limits (after escapement goals are reached), sex and size limitations, establishing the methods and means employed in the pursuit, capture and transport of fish, watershed and habitat improvement, management, conservation, protection, use, disposal, propagation and stocking of fish, regulating commercial, sport, guided sport, subsistence, and personal use fishing as needed for the conservation, development, and sustainable utilisation of fisheries. In the Pacific Northeast there are two fisheries for the Chinook salmon that are certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) - Alaska and Annette Island Reserve. The Alaskan salmon fishery was first certified by MSC as “well managed and sustainable” in September 2000, and recertified most recently in November 2013. Alaska’s salmon fishery is also certified under the FAO-based RFM programme which evaluates fisheries under the code of conduct for Responsible Fisheries Management which are considered to be the world’s most comprehensive and respected fisheries management guidelines.

Capture Information

Most Chinooks are caught in the open sea using gill nets and troll gear (baited lines drawn behind boats), and also using fish wheels in rivers. While most Alaskan salmon is harvested during the summer openings, Alaskan troll-caught Chinook salmon is harvested year round. The typical capture methods for Chinook salmon (gill netting and trolling) are relatively selective, and therefore the adverse impacts on the target and non-target species are minimized. Gill nets and troll gear are amongst the least damaging in terms of habitat destruction.


Based on method of production, fish type, and consumer rating: only fish rated 2 and below are included as an alternative in the list below. Click on a name to show the sustainable options available.

Anchovy, anchovies
Arctic char
Herring or sild
Salmon, Atlantic (Farmed)
Salmon, Chinook, King Salmon
Salmon, Chum, Keta, Calico or Dog salmon
Salmon, Coho , Silver, White
Salmon, Pink, Spring , humpback
Salmon, Sockeye , Red Salmon, Bluebacks, Redfish
Sprat, whitebait
Trout, Rainbow
Tuna, albacore
Tuna, bigeye
Tuna, skipjack
Tuna, yellowfin


ASMI Website: ADFG website:;