Bristol Bay sockeye salmon run 8th largest since 2003

This year Bristol Bay saw its eighth largest inshore run of sockeye salmon since 2003, a total of 54.5 million fish, said state biologists, who released a report on Saturday of all preliminary data for the season. 

That was 17% above the 46.7 million average run over the past two decades.  

Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) officials said runs to every district were also larger than their preseason forecasts. 

The 2023 Bristol Bay preliminary ex-vessel value for all salmon, estimated using fish ticket weight and prices paid for each species, was $117.4 million. That was 37% below the 20-year average of $187.6 million. The overall value is based on the major buyers’ base price and does not reflect price adjustments paid later for icing, bleeding, floating or production bonuses. 

The commercial harvest of 40.6 million sockeyes was 11% above the 36.6 million preseason forecast. These red salmon weighed in on average at 5.5 pounds, slightly larger than recent years due to the run being dominated by the larger three-ocean fish, or fish who spent three years in the ocean. 

The total of 6,847 Chinook salmon, caught incidentally to the directed sockeye run, was well below the 20-year average of 32,491 fish. 


The year’s preliminary chum salmon harvest of 342,905 fish was well below the 20-year average of 1.1 million fish, including 175,090 chum harvested in the Nushagak District. 

There was no directed fishery for pink salmon because they are predominantly an even year species in Bristol Bay and are not abundant. The total harvest came to 3,142 fish. 

The preliminary coho harvest was 15,561 fish, well below the recent 20-year average of 97,620 fish. 

ADF&G officials thanked the Bristol Bay Fisheries Collaborative (BBFC) for its financial assistance over the last few years. BBFC was an agreement between the department and Bristol Bay Science and Research Institute (BBSRI) to work together and with stakeholders to restore a world-class fisheries management system and raise funds for its support and maintenance. Programs previously funded by BBFC are not funded by the state. 

ADF&G also thanked the BBSRI and Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association (BBRSDA) for their funding and efforts to operate the Port Moller Test Fishery.