Bristol Bay Fisheries Report: July 15, 2019

Jul 15, 2019

Welcome to the Bristol Bay Fisheries Report. Egegik’s cumulative harvest is only 2 million behind the Nushagak. The Naknek-Kvichak hit a harvest of 9 million, and there are some early indications for prices this year.

 

 

A boat waits in the Chignik Bay harbor. The region will see its second opener of the season on July 16.
Credit Alex Hager / KDLG

Welcome to the Bristol Bay Fisheries Report. Egegik’s cumulative harvest is only 2 million behind the Nushagak. The Naknek-Kvichak hit a harvest of 9 million, and there are some early indications for prices this year.

On the west side, the Nushagak’s daily catch  yesterday came to 250,000, bumping the cumulative up to 13.8 million. Escapement in the district was 307,000 yesterday, making the season escapement 3.7 million. Breaking yesterday’s escapement down by river, the Wood River tower saw 80,000 fish, the Nushagak got 16,000, and the Igushik had just over 300.

Also on the West Side, Togiak caught 30,000 yesterday, bringing the season cumulative up to 300,000. Escapement there was 4,300 yesterday and 35,000 on the season.

On to the east side, Egegik had far and away the biggest catch yesterday, bringing in 717,000 and pushing the cumulative up to 11.6 million. The district had an escapement of 82,000 on Sunday and 1.9 million on the season.

The Naknek-Kvichak pulled in 400,000 yesterday, pushing their season cumulative up to 9 million. Escapement in the district was 307,000 yesterday and 3.7 million so far this year. Breaking yesterday’s escapement down by river, 141,000 fish went up the Kvichak, 121,500 up the Naknek, and 44,000 in the Alagnak. 

And finally on the east side, the Ugashik didn’t fish yesterday, leaving the cumulative there at 324,600. The district saw an escapement of around 8,000 yesterday, bringing the cumulative up to 108,000.

Taking a look now at vessel registration, things are still picking up on the east side and slowing down in the Nushagak.

The Naknek-Kvichak is making the biggest gains. The district started this morning with 687 permits, but that number will climb to 764 for Wednesday morning. The number of vessels will see a spike too, going from 554 to 615. 133 of them were doubled up today, and that’ll go up to 149 on Wednesday.

Egegik is also making some gains. That district is going from 594 permits to 613 across the next couple of days. The number of vessels there jumps from 436 to 449, and the number of D-Boats will go from 158 to 164.

Registration is continuing to trickle away from the Nushagak. This morning the district had 269 permits, a number that’ll drop to 264 on Wednesday. 226 vessels will go down to 222, and the number of D-Boats will drop from 43 to 42.

The Ugashik will lose a permit but gain a vessel, with the number of permits dropping from 79 to 78 and the number of vessels kicking from 58 to 59. The D-Boat count in Ugashik will drop from 21 to 19.

Looking at the totals across all districts, Wednesday will start with 1,762 permits, 1,388 vessels, and 374 D-Boats out on the water in Bristol Bay.

 

We’ve got the latest numbers from the Chignik Weir. They had 14,000 sockeye yesterday, with 9,000 of those belonging to the late run. 

So far this season, the weir has seen 361,000 sockeye, with 80,000 in the late run. There’s an opener over there tonight, and I’ll have more on it later in the show.

 

Over in Area M, the South Peninsula is up to 848,000 sockeye so far this year, in addition to 9.7 million pinks.

On the North Side, they’ve caught 1.3 million sockeye so far. 

In Port Moller, the Ocean Cat drifted a bit from Station 12 last night and got started at Station 14 this morning.  Today, they’re fishing as many stations towards Port Moller as possible starting at Station 22. But first, here are the test fishery’s numbers from yesterday.


All that puts the average daily index at 22. And a reminder, there are no more stock composition results coming out this season. The last one came from July 10-11.

As the end of the 2019 commercial fishing season appears on the horizon, so does speculation about base prices across the bay. 

 

Icicle Seafoods is the first processor to post base prices this year: $1.35 per pound for reds and 40 cents per pound for chum. They don’t have a price for kings or any bonuses posted. 

 

KDLG’s Sage Smiley called other Bristol Bay processors today today -- Copper River, Peter Pan, Red Salmon, Ocean Beauty, Leader Creek, AGS, Silver Bay, Trident, and E&E -- and they all said they don’t have base prices yet. 

 

Icicle’s posted sockeye base price of $1.35 is higher than last year’s average in Bristol Bay, which was $1.26 for reds, not including future price adjustments or bonuses. Icicle’s 40 cents for chum also exceeds last year’s 36 cent baywide average per pound of chum. 

 

In 2018, kings and silvers each weighed in at an average of $0.80 per pound, and pinks brought in $0.20 per pound. 

 

Last year, most processors posted prices within the last week of July.

 

We’ll keep an eye on the processors that haven’t posted prices yet, and will have updates on other species prices and bonuses as they’re posted over the next few weeks.

 Legislators were unable to override Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s 182 line-item vetoes last Friday. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is going to see some of the cuts. KDLG’s Tyler Thompson spoke with House Speaker Bryce Edgmon about those cuts. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game was among Governor Mike Dunleavy’s staggering list of line item vetoes. Roughly $1-million was cut from the Commercial Fisheries Division Budget.

“Well the legislature added a million dollars to the commercial fisheries division budget,” said House Speaker Bryce Edgmon. “Which got vetoed out and sort of re-allocated in a different way that the legislature added these projects.”

He’s referring to the Ortiz amendments that are used to fund projects across the region.

In a memo from ADF&G commissioner Doug Vincent-Lang, it says rather than eliminate specific projects covered by the Ortiz amendments, they are looking to cut the lowest priority projects that have the least impact on delivery services.

In the Central Region, those include around $94-thousand from Prince William Sound Coded Wire Tags, $50-thousand from Alagnak River Tower and $117-thousand from the Susitna Valley Weirs.

The memo also addresses that funding for two director positions were eliminated from the Division of Subsistence and Division of Habitat. According to the memo, those two divisions will be combined into sections.

Edgmon mentions that 50% of ADF&G’s travel budget will be reduced across the department as well, what that means remains to be seen. He says the impact of all the cuts to ADF&G is going to require some time.

 “There again,” Edgmon said. “I think time is gonna tell what a million dollars from the commercial fishing division actually entails, even though it’s broken down in components that I have in my office, we’ll see.”

The House Finance committee is holding hearings today regarding an appropriations bill putting the vetoes, capital budget and PFD in one bill. Edgmon says he and senate president Cathy Giessel have been meeting with the governor in hopes to reach a compromise that will bring legislatures together for a reasonable solution.

Chignik is going to see a 48 hour opener starting at midnight tonight. It’s only the second of the year for a region that has seen few fish come its way. Raechel Allen, who fishes in Chignik, says this opener still has its limits.

 

"This time is the closest to what a regular opener would be," Allen said. "I'm sure some people think it's a regular opener. We get to fish on our capes as well as our inner bays, however we are shut down in the lagoon and the central district, which are the areas closest to our sockeye river."

Allen says even if this opener is the start of a successful second half of the season, it wouldn’t make up for the devastation they’ve faced over the last year and a half.

 

"Basically the entire run, first and second last year, failed," Allen said. "At the very least, one of them didn't meet escapement and both failed where we couldn't fish. This year, our first run failed. All of June and most of July. And it is still below escapement on the first run. The river didn't get enough escapement for a sustainable yield. We're still concerned that in '23 and '24 we're not going to get returns that will support a sustainable fishery."

We’ll have more coverage on the situation in Chignik later this week.

 

If you have suggestions or corrections for the fish report, we want to hear from you! *Please* let us know by sending an email Fish@kdlg.org or calling us at 842-5281. If you’ve got a message to the fleet, send it to the same place. Fish@kdlg.org or give us a ring at 842-5281.