ADF&G predicts return of over 51M sockeyes to Bristol Bay

Alaska Department of Fish and Game officials are forecasting a return of over 51 million sockeye salmon to Bristol Bay in the summer of 2021, with a potential harvest of 36.35 million fish in Bristol Bay and 1.02 million fish in the South Peninsula.

A harvest of this size in Bristol Bay would be 13 percent greater than the most recent 10-year harvest of 32.23 million, and 40 percent greater than the long-term average harvest of 21.88 million fish.

State biologists are estimating the run forecast for each district and river system as follows: 17.35 million to Naknek-Kvichak District (6.37 million to the Kvichak River, 3.75 million to the Alagnak River, and 7.23 million to the Naknek River); 11.18 million to the Egegik District; 6.66 million to the Ugashik District; 15.06 million to the Nushagak District (7.94 million to the Wood River, 5.76 million to the Nushagak River, and 1.35 million to the Igushik River); and 0.82 million to the Togiak District

The 2021 forecast report notes that historically the sockeye salmon runs to Bristol Bay have been highly variable. The total run has averaged 35.12 million fish from 1963 through 2020 and has averaged 48.14 million fish during the most recent 10-year period.

The preliminary Bristol Bay 2020 season summary released in September said the run of 58.2 million fish was the fifth largest total run and 46 percent above the 40.0 million average run or the latest 20 year. The harvest of 39.5 million fish was 46 percent higher than the most recent 20-year average for all districts in Bristol Bay.

ADF&G offered its thanks to the Bristol Bay Fisheries Collaborative for funding assistance in 2020. The BBFC support began in 2016 with an agreement between ADF&G and the Bristol Bay Science and Research Institute to work together with stakeholders to restore the world class fishery management system and raise funds to support and maintain management.

The agreement is supported by ADF&G, BBSRI, Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, setnet fishermen, processors, municipalities, villages, support industries and other stakeholders. The BBFC provided $600,000 towards Bristol Bay management in 2020.