SEAFOODNEWS.COM [SeafoodNews] by Peggy Parker – November 16, 2016

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game predicts next year’s Bristol Bay red salmon harvest will be 27.5 million fish, about ten million less than this year’s 37.3 million sockeye.

The total run projected for 2017 in the Bay is 39.93 million sockeye in the nine river systems. That compares to the 2016 season of a 51.4 million fish return.

Sockeye salmon  Credit:

Sockeye salmon

In addition to Bristol Bay, the South Peninsula’s run is expected to reach 1.53 million red salmon. This year, the fleet caught just over 2.4 million reds in an unexpectedly strong return.

Yesterday’s announcement describes the run as “virtually identical to the most recent 10-year average of Bristol Bay total runs (41.39) and 27% greater than the long-term mean of 32.76 million fish.”

The prediction of return to each of the nine river systems follow.

Naknek-Kvichak District: 16.07 million, including 7.76 million to the Kvichak River, 4.04 million to the Alagnak River and 4.27 million to the Naknek River.

Egegik District: 10.65 million

Ugashik District: 5.46 million

Nushagak District: 8.62 million, including 5.50 million to the Wood River; 1.87 million to the Nushagak River and 1.25 million to the Igushik River

Togiak District: 0.66 million

The Bristol Bay total run has averaged 32.76 million from 1963 through 2016 and has averaged 41.39 million fish during the most recent 10-year period.

Since 2001 forecasts have, on average, under-forecast the run by 10% and have ranged from 44% below actual run in 2014 to 19% above actual run in 2011.

Individual river forecasts have greater uncertainty compared to Bay-wide forecasts. Since 2001, on average, forecasts have under-estimated the returns to the Alagnak (-48%), Togiak (-20%), Kvichak (-22%), Wood (-9%), Nushagak (-10%) and Naknek (-5%) rivers and over-forecasted returns to Igushik (15%), Egegik (18%), and Ugashik rivers (2%).
Over-forecasting returns to some rivers while under-forecasting returns to other rivers means that the overall Bristol Bay forecast is generally more accurate than the forecast to any individual river.

A number of industry groups contributed support towards management of the 2016 Bristol Bay fisheries. The department acknolwedged the groups in the announcement “for funding assistance and operating fishery monitoring programs: Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association (BBRSDA), Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation (BBEDC), Bristol Bay Regional Science and Research Institute (BBSRI), Trident, Choggiung Limited, Peter Pan, Manokotak Village Council, Bristol Bay Native Association (BBNA), Dylan Braund, Togiak Traditional Council, Twin Hills Village Council, North Pacific Seafoods, American President Line, and Copper River Seafoods.”

They also noted BBRSDA’s contribution of $225,000 towards management of 2016 Bristol Bay commercial fisheries.

“Without this contribution operational funds to manage the fishery would have been obtained through cost recovery test fishing. The Bristol Bay management program budget has been reduced 17% over the last two years and the department anticipates additional cuts in 2017. A Memorandum of Agreement has been signed by the department and BBSRI to explore alternative future funding strategies,” the announcement concluded.