Saturday, September 26, 2009

Big year for Bristol Bay

Gillnetters took nearly 31 million sockeye. Wesley Loy photo

The Department of Fish and Game has released a six-page summary of this year’s Bristol Bay salmon fishery, and the numbers look pretty impressive.

• The sockeye run of 40.4 million fish and the commercial catch of 30.9 million rank 22nd and 7th respectively since statehood. The catch trounced the preseason forecast of 24 million.

• At an average price of 70 cents a pound, and an average fish weight of 5.9 pounds, the sockeye paid $127.6 million to fishermen. The tally could rise if processors pay bonuses in coming months. Last year’s catch of 27.8 million sockeye paid $111.4 million initially.

• Three early season fishing periods for Chinook salmon were a bust, netting only 875 fish. However, gillnetters took close to 30,000 Chinook in the sockeye fishery for a grand total of 30,402. That’s less than half the average harvest for the last 20 seasons.

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