Robust Forecast for 2016 Bristol Bay Sockeyes

State fisheries biologists in Alaska are forecasting a run
of 46.55 million sockeye salmon into Bristol Bay in 2016, with a potential
harvest of 29.52 million reds in Bristol Bay and 1.72 million fish in the South
Alaska Peninsula.
That prediction is 15 percent greater than the previous
10-year average of total runs and 41 percent greater than the long-term average
of 32.94 million fish.
A run of 46.55 million sockeyes can produce a potential
total harvest of 31.24 million fish. A Bristol Bay harvest of 29.52 million
fish would be 8 percent greater than the previous 10-year mean harvest and 46
percent greater than the long-term mean harvest of 20.20 million fish.
That compares with last year’s forecast of 53.981 million
sockeyes, which came in at 8.8 percent over forecast at 59.97 million fish.
Preliminary harvest totals put the 2015 Bristol Bay sockeye
harvest at 35.673 million reds, with a total value of $92,396,000, based on 50
cents a pound. With the addition of Chinook, coho, pink and chum salmon, the
overall Bristol Bay harvest of 46.218 million fish was worth $89,335,000.
Harvesters in Bristol Bay earned $192,691,000, or $1.20 a
pound in 2014 for their harvest of 28.8 million reds, and a total of $196.581
million for an overall harvest of 30.948 million salmon of all species.
Total runs of sockeyes into Bristol Bay have historically
been highly variable, noted Chuck Brazil, the state’s Bristol Bay area research
biologist, who compiled the forecast data with assistant area research
biologists Fred West and Greg Buck.
The 2016 forecast of 46.55 million fish, released on Oct.
29. is above the long-term (1963-2015) average of 32.93 million fish, and above
the most recent 10-year (2006-2015) average of 40.54 million fish.
The run forecast to each district and river system includes
23.17 million reds to the Naknek-Kvichak District, with 12.69 million fish to
the Kvichak River, 5.72 million to the Alagnak River, and 4.76 million to the
Naknek River.
Other forecasts include 7.41 million fish to the Egegik District,
4.95 million fish to the Ugashik District, 0.66 million fish to the Togiak
District, and 10.36 million fish to the Nushagak District, including 7.53
million fish to Wood River, 1.74 million fish to the Nushagak River, and 1.09
million fish to the Igushik River.

The total run forecast of 46.55 million reds is expected to
be comprised of 16.28 million age 1.2 fish, 12.70 million age 1-3 fish, 11.40
million age 2.2 fish and 6.05 million age 2-3 fish, with minor age classes
contributing to the remainder of the return, the research biologists said.