As Bristol Bay‘s famed sockeye salmon run slowed to a harvest of 20.4 million fish, the run of reds in Upper Cook Inlet began to surge, and the state total of all species of salmon harvested to date in 2011 climbed above 53 million fish.
So strong was the Cook Inlet run of reds that processors had harvesters on restrictions for the amount of fish they would take, said Pat Shields, acting area management biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for Upper Cook Inlet.
ADF&G’s preliminary catch reports for the week ended July 14 showed a harvest of some 257,000 kings, 5,069,000 chum, 217,000 silvers, 16,655,000 pinks and 30,868,000 sockeyes.
The big news was the excitement in Upper Cook Inlet, where the test fishery showed a strong run. The Upper Cook Inlet Drift Association reported on its Facebook page on July 18 that on July 14 the 420 boats delivering to processors had an average harvest of 1,654 fish.
“That’s an all-time record for any day (on Upper Cook Inlet),” Shields said.
While July 14 was a very good day of fishing for drift fleet, it was a very poor day for settnetters on the east side of Cook Inlet, who caught about 27,000 sockeyes while the drift fleet hauled in some 700,000 reds.
Two days later, on July 16, many of the fish who had been in the middle of the inlet had been pushed to the beaches and the setnetters had a really good day. Shields said in an interview on July 18 that the preliminary numbers showed setnetters’ harvest came to 490,000 fish on July 16, compared to a harvest of 287,000 fish for the drift fleet.
The strength of the forecast 2011 run to Upper Cook Inlet of 6.4 million sockeyes is based on estimated returns of four, five and six year old reds.
Shields said that while it’s uncommon, restrictions have been put on Upper Cook Inlet’s driftnet fleet in the past, but that he couldn’t recall any such limits being placed on setnetters.
Some processors who were active in that fishery back in the 1980s sold out, so there is less processing capacity than in those years, he said.
In the Bristol Bay fishery, meanwhile, processors like Leader Creek Fisheries were pleased with harvest they did get. “The fish were excellent,” said Leader Creek’s Norm Van Vactor. Three ocean fish comprised the largest component of the run and average fish weights were up, which makes processing go easier, he said.
As one of the smaller processors, Van Vactor said Leader Creek could keep its lights on in processing facilities a little longer, but that it was a day to day decision.
As of July 17, there were still 1,431 boats registered to fish in Bristol Bay, including 658 in the Naknek/Kvichak, 287 in the Ugashik, 260 in the Nushagak, 166 at Egegik and 60 in Togiak. The preliminary harvest estimate for the bay stood at 20,439,568 fish, with cumulative escapement of 7,666,226 fish, ADF&G officials said.
- Salmon season soon to officially gets underway By LAINE WELCH (juneautek.wordpress.com)
- Wild Alaska salmon harvest tops 4 million fish – The Cordova Times (juneautek.wordpress.com)
- Fishing has driven evolution of smaller Alaskan salmon (newscientist.com)
- Researcher shows fishing has reduced salmon size in Alaska (juneautek.wordpress.com)