Bristol Bay sees strong sockeye run

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Published: Jul. 17, 2021 at 8:13 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) -Sockeye salmon catches in Bristol Bay have been off the charts this season. In the Nushagak District, it’s going to be their second largest run and harvest according to Tim Sands, an area management biologist for commercial fisheries in Bristol Bay.

“We’re approaching 27 million total run,” he said. “Our average run would be 9 million, so to be triple the average is amazing.”

Sands says the region has experienced numerous record-breaking days this year.

“June 30, we broke the all time record for catch in the Nushagak District in a single day, and that was 1.7 something million, and then the very next day we broke it again at 1.8 million,” he said.

He said sockeye catches for the Nushagak District topped 1 million fish seven days in a row.

“For perspective, up until 2017, we never had a single day in the history of this district where we harvested a million sockeye in a day,” Sands said. “We did it seven days (this year).”

Sands also says other areas in Bristol Bay are also doing well, which comes as good news for fishermen and seafood processors.

“Right now there are 8.7 million in Egegik (and) 16.8 million in Naknek,” he said. “I can tell you right now in Bristol Bay, we’re over 35 million harvest, and we probably have I’d say probably close to another 5 million at least to go.

The season isn’t over just yet, and comparing this year’s sockeye numbers to last year’s amounts, Sands says Nushagak District had 12.7 million total sockeye with 8.9 million harvested in 2020. As for next year’s run, he says he anticipates the strong run to continue.

“I’m not a forecaster, but certainly I am optimistic that next year for sure should be a very good year,” Sands said.

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