The Waters of Bristol Bay- Alaska's Sockeye Salmon
Bristol Bay salmon season exceeds expectations
Monday, September 23, 2019, 00:00 (GMT + 9)
More than 56 million fish returned to Bristol Bay this summer. That’s far more than predicted and the sixth-largest run ever recorded.
At USD 306.5 million, the preliminary exvessel value for the salmon season is the highest in the fishery’s history. The exvessel price is the amount of money fishermen get when they sell their salmon to a processor. But the key word here is “preliminary.”
Photo: wildsalmoncenter.org/Ryan Peterson
“That total value will only go higher,” said Garrett Evridge, an economist with the McDowell Group, an Anchorage-based consulting firm.
Evridge explained that the price the Alaska Department of Fish and Game provided only includes this year’s base price of USD 1.35, not bonuses for things like icing and bleeding fish.
“That average price of USD 1.35 is only going to increase," he said. "We don’t know what the final price will be, but it will be higher than a buck thirty-five. And then that will influence the total exvessel value for the 2019 Bristol Bay harvest.”
The final number, due out sometime next spring, will determine whether this year’s price will exceed previous seasons.
That price tag is just one in a series of big numbers from this summer. The Bristol Bay fleet hauled in 43 million fish – the second-largest harvest on record.
Photo: Sockeye salmon in the Bristol Bay watershed. (COURTESY OF FISH EYE GUY PHOTOGRAPHY/earthjustice.org)
Tim Sands, an area management biologist for Fish and Game, says part of why the catch was so large this year is because more of the returning fish were 1-3s – that is, they had spent one year in freshwater and three in the ocean, and so had more time to grow.
“A higher percentage of older fish this year," he said. "We had bigger fish in the Nushagak, but also fishermen adapted a little bit by using smaller-mesh gear."
Author: Isabelle Ross / KDLG (Read the whole article here)