It was a rollercoaster salmon season around Bristol Bay this summer. West side districts saw their largest sockeye runs on record. East side districts saw their latest red runs on record. In the end, every river in the bay made its escapement goal.
The exvessel value per permit has been over $100,000 for the past 10 years in the Chignik Management Area. This year, the entire fishery brought in $3000, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's season summary.
The 58-foot vessel, which was operating as a tender near Clark's Point, sank July 25. After more than a month at the bottom of the Nushagak Bay, a salvage team is lifting the ship and will tow it to Dutch Harbor.
Large seafood companies buy and sell most of the sockeye caught every summer in Bristol Bay, but there are a lot of small businesses that sell fillets right to customers all over the country and finding some success doing it. KDLG visited some of these small processors to talk shop.
Commercial fishermen who fish near the Chignik River have been unable to cast their nets to catch sockeye all summer; not enough red salmon are returning to the river for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to open the fishery. As summer winds down, some are beginning to doubt there will be any commercial sockeye openings before the season comes to a close.
After a very slow beginning to their season, fishermen in Ugashik Bay saw millions of sockeye salmon return in a little over a week in mid-July. The short intense peak of the season turned out to be beneficial for some of the fishermen who stuck it out all the weeks without fish.
When they flew an aerial survey today, ADF&G did not observe oil sheen coming from the wreckage of the tender that sank near Clark's Point Wednesday. Commercial fishing in the district could open as early as 4 p.m. Tuesday.
At 4 p.m. the Alaska Department of Fish and Game recieved reports that people in Igushik could see and smell fuel on the water. In response, the Igushik Section of the Nushagak District will close to commercial fishing at 6 p.m.
A man is still missing and fuel is leaking from the wreckage after the F/V Pacific Knight sank near Clark's Point on Wednesday. This afternoon, ADF&G closed commercial fishing in the Nushagak District due to risk of spilled fuel contaminating fish and fishing gear.
Seafood processors across Bristol Bay in the summer rely mostly on the judgment of college students to determine the caliber of sockeye they're buying from fishermen. KDLG's Mitch Borden spent a day on the salmon tender F/V Muskrat to see what goes into grading these salmon — and keeping fishermen honest.
The Alaska Board of Fisheries declared the low sockeye return to the Chignik River an emergency at a meeting on Tuesday. Members voted to keep the subsection of the Dolgoi Islands and Southeastern District Mainland area closed through August 8.