Commercial fishing and other boats are moored in the Homer Harbor in this file photo. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Commercial fishing and other boats are moored in the Homer Harbor in this file photo. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Seawatch: Bristol Bay sockeye run could stress processors

Bristol Bay is expected to see a return of as many as 75 million sockeye salmon

Some Bristol Bay fishermen have been expressing anxiety about the ability of area processors to handle the huge sockeye run expected for this season, and the area’s largest marketing association hasn’t expressed the utmost confidence that processors will be able to handle the expected record run.

Bristol Bay is expected to see a return of as many as 75 million sockeye salmon and a possible harvest of 52 million fish if processors meet their goals.

That would compare to the 2021 previous record harvest of 40.4 million sockeye and a potential available harvest in 2022 of 60 million sockeye if processors are able to buy every available fish, a difference of 8 million or more sockeye, depending upon the actual return.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game surveys processors every year about their anticipated processing capacity based on the projected run. For 2022, 15 major commercial processing companies responded, and for the first time in a long time responded by saying they would not likely be able to buy every fish available for delivery.

The last time commercial salmon fishermen in Bristol Bay were put on catch limits, meaning they could only offload so many pounds per day, was 2008, back when Sarah Palin was governor.

That was far before COVID-19 appeared on the horizon, which caused myriad marketing, workplace and supply-chain problems, some of which are still gumming up the works.

Some of those problems are hopefully being alleviated by the federal government issuing 35,000 additional H-2B visas for non-agricultural visas for tourism and fishing workplaces.

However, salmon prices have rebounded from pre-pandemic levels, and the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association estimates that the lost revenue from unharvested sockeye could be as much as $100 million, depending upon run timing.

“Foregone harvest can happen for several reasons, aside from processing capacity, but just for context, the value of the (theoretically available) 9.1 million sockeye that weren’t caught in Bristol Bay last year (2021) was approximately $75 million in ex-vessel terms, which would rank as the state’s third-largest salmon fishery (behind Bristol Bay and Prince William seine),” BBRSDA said on their website. “For the processor’s part, this is also a golden opportunity. Demand for Bristol Bay sockeye appears to be near an all-time high, at least in the modern era that includes large-scale farmed salmon production. All things considered, the sockeye pricing outlook is strong whether the harvest is 40 million, 50 million, or 60 million fish.”

More in News

tease
House District 6 race gets 3rd candidate

Alana Greear filed a letter of intent to run on April 5

Kenai City Hall is seen on Feb. 20, 2020, in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai water treatment plant project moves forward

The city will contract with Anchorage-based HDL Engineering Consultants for design and engineering of a new water treatment plant pumphouse

Students of Soldotna High School stage a walkout in protest of the veto of Senate Bill 140 in front of their school in Soldotna, Alaska, on Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
SoHi students walk out for school funding

The protest was in response to the veto of an education bill that would have increased school funding

The Kenai Courthouse as seen on Monday, July 3, 2023, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Clam Gulch resident convicted of 60 counts for sexual abuse of a minor

The conviction came at the end of a three-week trial at the Kenai Courthouse

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly meets in Seward, Alaska, on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. (screenshot)
Borough awards contract for replacement of Seward High School track

The project is part of a bond package that funds major deferred maintenance projects at 10 borough schools

Kenai Peninsula Education Association President LaDawn Druce, left, and committee Chair Jason Tauriainen, right, participate in the first meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s Four Day School Week Ad Hoc Committee on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
4-day school week committee talks purpose of potential change, possible calendar

The change could help curb costs on things like substitutes, according to district estimates

A studded tire is attached to a very cool car in the parking lot of the Peninsula Clarion in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, April 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Studded tire removal deadline extended

A 15-day extension was issued via emergency order for communities above the 60 degrees latitude line

A sign for Peninsula Community Health Services stands outside their facility in Soldotna, Alaska, on Monday, April 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
PCHS to pursue Nikiski expansion, moves to meet other community needs

PCHS is a private, nonprofit organization that provides access to health care to anyone in the community

Jordan Chilson votes in favor of an ordinance he sponsored seeking equitable access to baby changing tables during a meeting of the Soldotna City Council in Soldotna, Alaska, on Wednesday, April 10, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna OKs ordinance seeking to increase access to baby changing tables

The ordinance requires all newly constructed or renovated city-owned and operated facilities to include changing tables installed in both men’s and women’s restrooms

Most Read