July 3, 2014
This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch … Why does Bristol Bay sockeye salmon get so much attention? I’ll tell you more after this —
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With all the salmon fisheries going on every summer all across Alaska, you might wonder why so much attention is focused on Bristol Bay. The answer can be summed up in two words: sockeye salmon.
Bristol Bay is home to the largest red salmon runs in the world and sockeye is Alaska’s most valuable salmon fishery by far. Well over one third of the state’s total salmon fishing earnings come from Bristol Bay. The Bay also has the most fishermen, with more than 2,800 salmon permit holders. Whereas other fishing regions like Copper River, Southeast, Kodiak, Cook Inlet and the Alaska Peninsula might get sockeye catches ranging from one million to five million fish, Bristol Bay’s harvests can reach into the 20 to 40 million range.
The sockeye catch there this summer is projected at 17 million but it’s likely to go higher.
Sockeyes are surging early into Bristol Bay with recent landings topping two million reds per day. The catch last Friday was over three million – an amount that has only been achieved 14 times since 1970.
Statewide the sockeye catch this summer is pegged at nearly 34 million, a 14 percent increase over last year. By yesterday the total sockeye harvest was approaching 17 million, with more than 11 million of those reds coming from Bristol Bay. For all salmon, Alaska’s statewide catch was nearing 24 million fish. Projections call for a total salmon catch this year of 133 million fish, down 47% from last year. That was due to a record catch of 266 million pinks.
Ocean Beauty has contributed over 10 million meals to the U.S. Food Bank network, and is committed to ending hunger in America. www.oceanbeauty.com In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.