Commercial fishing for Bristol Bay salmon opens officially on June 1. While commercial fishing is considered an essential business and part of the state’s essential services and critical infrastructure, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is reminding harvesters to ensure that all travel and other activities in support of their fishing operations follow the protocols listed online at cdv.tiny.us/advisories. These include mandates for international and interstate travel for those entering Alaska.
The run forecasts and potential harvests for each of the five districts are as follows:
- Naknek-Kvichak district: projected run of 17 million fish; harvest of 9 million fish
- Egegik district: projected run of 11 million; harvest of 9.3 million fish.
- Ugashik district: projected run of 6.5 million fish; harvest of 5.4 million fish
- Nushagak district: projected run of 15 million fish, harvest of 12.2 million fish
- Togiak district: projected run of 800,000 fish; harvest of 600,000 fish
Forecasters anticipate that a high percentage of the run will be sockeyes to be ages 1.2 and 1.3, which is about four and five pounds per fish, respectively.
During a meeting of the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association with ADF&G officials on Monday, April 5, Andy Wink, executive director of the BBRSDA, reminded harvesters of the importance of following pandemic health care mandates issued by the state of Alaska, processors and communities where they may be working during the fishing season.
State wildlife troopers are also reminding harvesters that, due to their concern about underreporting of king salmon harvested in the Bristol Bay fishery, tenders can expect to be boarded and checked for undocumented king salmon. All salmon, including king and coho, are required by regulation to be reported on fish tickets at the time of delivery even when taken but not sold. There will also continue to be a strong focus on fishing district lines and open/closed fishing periods in all districts, troopers said.
Loss of gillnets or portions of a gillnet must also be reported to the local ADF&G office in Dillingham or King Salmon within 15 hours of the gear loss.
ADF&G officials also expressed thanks to stakeholders for funding assistance via the Bristol Bay Fisheries Collaborative in 2020. The BBFC began in 2016 as an agreement between ADF&G and the Bristol Bay Science and Research Institute to work together with stakeholders to restore a world class fisheries management system and raise funds to support and maintain it. The agreement is supported by ADF&G the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, processors municipalities, villages, support industries, individual setnet harvesters and other stakeholders. In 2020, BBSRI and BBRSDA again funded a second test boat in the Port Moller fest fishery.