The University of Washington’s Fisheries Research Institute (UW-FRI) on Aug. 18 issued a preliminary preseason 2024 forecast run of 38.9 million Bristol Bay sockeye salmon, with a harvest of 26.4 million fish.
The forecasted run would be 32% below the 2013-2022 10-year average, with the fish weighing an average of 5.5 pounds, according to the forecast.
The UW-FRI report is based on 2023 daily in-season data from Alaska Department of Fish and Game reports. The preliminary preseason forecast suggests that 63% of the total 2024 Bristol Bay run will be 2-ocean sockeye and 37% 3-ocean sockeye.
The standard UW-FRI Preseason Forecast, slated for release in November, is to include abundance estimates by age class for all nine rivers in Bristol Bay, plus anticipated 2024 harvest in numbers and pounds.
The authors, which include professors Daniel Schindler and Ray Hilborn of the UW School of Aquatic and Fisheries Sciences, as well as UW quantitative ecologist Curry Cunningham and UW research scientist Chris Boatright, cautioned that this report should be considered advisory, rather than a formal forecast.
The total catch plus escapement reported on the last “daily” (July 30, 2023) was scaled up to the expected total 2023 Bristol Bay total run size based on observation that on average 94.1% of the total run size has been observed at the time of the last “daily” (2005-2022), the report said. The aggregate Bristol Bay age composition through July 18 was used to apportion the total 2023 run size estimate among reported age groups, the report said.
The preliminary 2023 commercial harvest report updated through Sept. 3 by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, showed a Bristol Bay commercial sockeye harvest of 39.4 million red salmon. That put the 2023 harvest at just shy of the 2016-2021 average harvest of 41.8 million sockeyes, but well short of last year’s record 61.0 million fish harvest.