Fish Radio
March 7, 2013

 Bristol Bay chills big, 2012

This is Fish Radio. Bristol Bay chills out in a big way. More after this –

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 Bristol Bay salmon fishermen are advancing their goal of boosting the quality of their fish. That was the drive six years ago when the roughly 1,800 member drift fleet formed its own seafood association, and fund it with a one percent tax on their salmon landings. That yields more than one million dollars a year.

 Partnering with Bay processors, the group aimed at getting more ice to the fleets. The effort has definitely paid off. The annual processor survey  for 2012 shows the driftnet fleet chilled 53% of its salmon catch prior to delivery,   first time ever  to top the halfway mark.  That’s an increase from just 24 percent in 2008. Since then the drift fleet has reduced its portion of unchilled product from 76 percent of the catch to 41% –   a  54 percent reduction.

 The 2012 season marked the first year in history where combined drift and set net fleets delivered more than half of their raw harvest in chilled form to tenders or processors. The processor survey, complied by Northern Economics,  also shows more boats are fishing in Bristol Bay.   Fleet  size increased 12 percent last year to 1, 530 vessels, the largest year-to year increase over four years.

 Alaska has lots of great salmon fisheries and you might wonder why so much attention gets focused on Bristol Bay. The answer can be summed up in two words: sockeye salmon.  It is Alaska’s most valuable salmon fishery –  nearly one third of the state’s total salmon earnings come from Bristol Bay.  The Bay also has the most fishermen, with more than 2,800 permit holders.  Bristol Bay’s rivers are home to the largest red salmon runs in the world. 

Check out the line up next month at ComFish.

 Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods, an Alaska corporation proudly supporting Alaska’s coastal communities and the Alaskans who depend on fishing for their livelihoods and culture.    In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.