Bristol Bay Fisheries Report: July 2, 2020

Jul 2, 2020

Fish are picking up around the bay. The run leapt past the 4 million fish mark and is approaching 5 million, and the runs in the Naknek-Kvichak and Egegik both passed 1 million yesterday. Egegik had the largest daily harvest. In the Nushagak, the total run passed 2 million.

Boats in the Nushagak. Tuesday, June 30, 2020.
Credit Brian Venua/KDLG

COVID-19 update 

BBAHC says Dillingham case is non-resident, not from community spread

Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation has confirmed that a case of COVID-it reported July 2 is not from community spread.

Public Information Officer Jennifer De Winne also confirmed the case is in a non-resident. BBAHC initially reported that it was Dillingham’s first resident case of COVID-19.

De Winne said in an email, “The main reason the release was issued was to keep people safe and especially if there were preliminary reports of community spread.”

BBAHC also announced three asymptomatic cases associated with a cannery. The individuals have been in strict quarantine, and there are plans to fly them out of the region.

OBI Seafoods confirmed two of those three asymptomatic cases at their Wood River plant July 2. There are now a total of six positive cases in OBI workers that were close contacts of the 12 cases the company announced on June 22. 

BBAHC also reported four new non-resident cases in the Lake and Peninsula Borough.

The corporation says it does not know the total number of active cases currently in the Dillingham Census Area or in Lake & Peninsula Borough. De Winne, the corporation’s public information officer, told KDLG in an email that state case reporting has not lined up with the information BBAHC has received about test results in the region, making reporting total numbers difficult.

De Winne added that while BBAHC initially reported active cases regionally, they are now unable to keep track of active versus recovered cases that are not BBAHC patients because there is no comprehensive inter-regional reporting system. De Winne says the corporation is in communication with Camai Community Health Center in Naknek and their counterparts in the Bethel area. Still, they still haven't clarified the full scope of active cases in the entire Bristol Bay region.

The Camai clinic in Naknek announced on Wednesday that from June 29 to July 1, they identified nine additional positive cases of COVID-19 in the Bristol Bay Borough. Those are all seafood workers, who have been in quarantine, and are now in isolation.

Some of those infected with COVID-19 are leaving the borough, which Camai clinic Director Mary Swain says brings the number of active cases physically in Bristol Bay Borough to 23.

U.S. House and Senate extend application deadline for PPP

Both the U.S. House and Senate voted to extend the Paycheck Protection Program by five weeks after the deadline passed yesterday. The extension awaits a signature from President Donald Trump.

The announcement comes at a good time for seasonal fishermen. Last week, a rule change to the PPP allowed crew members to access those funds, giving fishermen only three business days to apply for assistance.

Ephraim Froehlich, a representative of the Fishing Communities Coalition, says the coalition is happy for the extension, but some further changes may be needed.  

“There’s some fishermen who went through the original PPP process and after this 1099 fix, are possibly going to be unable to access additional PPP funds for their crew, which is what this fix is intended for,” he says.

Froehlich adds that the coalition is monitoring further proposals to ensure that fishermen who did apply before the rule change will either be able to apply a second time or amend their original application.

“A lot of it is uncharted territory, right?” Froelich says. “We’re doing a lot of innovative things to ensure our economy survives this pandemic. We are thankful to the federal government, our representatives and state governments, but we also need to be flexible; adapt to what we are finding to be problems along the way and fix those problems.”

If the extension goes into effect, fishermen will have until August 8 to apply for PPP assistance.

The Nushagak’s run is coming along, but it’s not anywhere near where it has been at this point in the past couple of years. KDLG caught up with Kaleb Westfall, a Nushagak set netter from Dillingham. 

Nushagak District

The Nushagak District’s daily harvest was 83,000 yesterday, bringing the season’s total harvest around 1.3 million. That was harvested 4% by Igushik set-netters, 28% Nushagak set-netters, and 68% by the drifters. There were about 100 sockeye per drift delivery. 

In the full Nushagak District, daily escapement was 112,200 yesterday. That makes the total escapement across the Nushagak District to 867,400. 

Nushagak River

57,000 sockeye passed the Nushagak River sonar yesterday. Adding that to the 19,000 fish that passed the sonar between midnight and 6am this morning, that brings Nushagak sockeye escapement to 423,000. 

2,200 chinook and 2,100 chum also passed the tower yesterday. Total king escapement up the Nushagak River so far is 34,000, and chum escapement for the season is 53,000. 

Wood River

The tower crew in the Wood River counted 11,000 sockeye by 6 a.m. this morning, bringing the season total escapement in the Wood to 444,000. 

Igushik River

In the Igushik River, the tower crew counted 2,000 fish past the tower as of early this morning. Total escapement in the Igushik is now 32,700 fish. 

Togiak

The Togiak River counting crew is set to go out today, so we should have escapement from the Togiak District soon. 

Taking a look at the east side…….

Naknek-Kvichak

The fleet in the Naknek-Kvichak hauled in 16,000 fish yesterday. There were about 80 fish per drift delivery. The total harvest is now at 658,500. Around 9% of that was caught by Kvichak set netters, 27% by Naknek set netters, and 64% by drifters in the district. 

In the Naknek-Kvichak, 53,800 fish throughout the district yesterday. Total escapement in the Naknek-Kvichak is now 341,000 fish. 

Alagnak River

The tower crew in the Alagnak River counted 15,500 fish past the tower as of yesterday, bringing the total escapement to 18,500 fish. 

Kvichak River

In the Kvichak River, the tower counted 15,800 fish past the tower as of yesterday. Total escapement in the Kvichak river is now 20,400 fish. 

Naknek River

In the Naknek River, the tower counted 22,500 fish past the tower as of yesterday. Total escapement in the Naknek River is now 302,400 fish. 

Egegik

Egegik had the largest daily harvest of all the districts yesterday, bringing in 313,000 fish. There were an average of around 600 fish per drift delivery -- also the most in the bay. The total harvest for the season is now 873,800. The drifters caught 87% of the harvest, and set netters caught 13%

Tower crew in the Egegik River counted 69,000 fish past the tower as of yesterday, which brings the total escapement in the Egegik river to 277,000 fish. 

Ugashik

No harvest numbers from Ugashik yesterday -- the total there is at 18,300. In the Ugashik River, the tower counted 3,550 fish past the tower as of yesterday, bringing the total escapement in the Ugashik river to 11,150 fish.

Chignik
Taking a look at Chignik counts, a total of 2,603 sockeye passed through the weir yesterday. As of 5 pm today 1,074 sockeye have passed through the weir, bringing the season total to 72,034. 6 chinook passed the weir yesterday, and 6 passed as of 5 pm today. A total of 67 chinook have passed the Chignik weir so far this season. 

Permit registration on July 2 9:00 a.m. to July 4 at 9:00 a.m.

As of 9 a.m. this morning, there are 1,629 boats fishing across the bay, 358 of which are D-boats. That will increase to 1,680 at 9 a.m. on Friday, however, the D-boats will remain the same at 358 on Friday. 

So let’s take a look at how those boats boats are spread out

Nushagak is still number one with the most boats of the 5 districts in the bay. Nearly 40% of the fleet is still fishing there. That’s 487 boats, 145 of which are D-boats. By Friday morning, neither boats or D-boats will have changed. 

29% of the fleet is fishing in the Naknek-Kvichak as of this morning, which comes out to 372 boats, 105 of which are D-boats. The
Naknek-Kvichik district is expecting another jump in vessel registrations this Friday for a total of 389 boats, and 114 D-boats. 

In Egegik, there are 348 boats fishing, 99 of which are D-boats. That’s 27% of the fleet. Egegik will get an additional 10 boats, and 5 D-boats on friday morning, bringing the total to 358 boats, and 104 D-boats. 

The Togiak district will also stay the same with a total of 36 boats. That 3% of the fleet will not change on Friday morning. 

Ugashik has just 2% of the fleet fishing there: 27 boats, 9 of which are D-boats. That number will increase to 36 boats, and a total of 10 D-boats.

Port Moller

The Ocean Cat was able to fish 5 stations yesterday, as well as get back to Port Moller with some genetic samples for analysis. 

Scott Moller said in an email that the hope is the Ocean Cat will be able to fish all of the stations out to station 22 today, and from those catches will be able to confirm that the run is late if indices increase today. We’ll have those numbers tomorrow. 

As for yesterday’s catch indices:

Station  Index

Station 6 had an index of 19 -- 4 in the 4 ½ and 3 in the 5 ⅛.

Station 8 had an index of 96 -- 25 in the 4 ½ and 18 in the 5 ⅛.

Station10 had an index of 76 -- 25 in the 4 ½ and 8 in the 5 ⅛.

Station 12 had an index of 40 -- 12 in the 4 ½ and 6 in the 5 ⅛.

Station 14 had an index of 68 -- 4 in the 4 ½ and 22 in the 5 ⅛.

 

STOCK COMPOSITION

The fourth set of stock composition estimates is out from the 2020 Port Moller Test Fishery. The samples were collected from 787 fish on June 29 and 30, from stations 6 - 20.

 

32% of the fish sampled are heading to Egegik, 24% are going to the Kvichak, 15% to the Wood River, 10% are going to the Naknek, 9% to the Nushagak and around 5% are going to the Alagnak. Around 2% are heading to Ugashik. 

In an email update, data analyst Scott Raborn says the test fishery has finally collected enough data this season to assess how the deeper 100-mesh net has affected the size of the catch indices. Basically, catch indices are higher this year because the test fishery is catching fish it would have otherwise missed with the shallower 60-mesh net. On average, it estimates about 30% of the fish are being caught in the deepest 40 meshes.

The difference in the nets shows how migrating sockeye orient themselves to the surface. 

Raborn says that they “realize the challenge this change in net configuration poses to making comparisons with historical catch indices,” and he added that their “rationale for making this change is simple—the historical comparisons didn’t work anyway.” We can expect more on that topic in the next couple days.