Bristol Bay Fisheries Report: July 22, 2020

Jul 22, 2020

The first base prices are out for Bristol Bay sockeye. The season is winding down, but daily catch across the bay was still almost 700,000 fish. At 54.4 million fish, the total run is the seventh largest on record, and the Naknek-Kvichak makes up almost 44% of that.

The Dillingham harbor. Friday, July 17, 2020.
Credit Brian Venua/KDLG

Processors start to post base prices and bonuses for Bristol Bay sockeye

Fishermen have confirmed that Trident Seafoods, Red Salmon / North Pacific Seafoods, OBI Seafoods, and Peter Pan Seafoods have posted a base price of $0.70 per pound for sockeye. That's just over half of last year's base price of $1.35.

“Well it’s -- it’s ridiculous, because it’s not worth it at all. Because I’m putting all this money in," says Alex, a captain from Wasilla who fishes for Peter Pan Seafoods. He declined to give his last name. Alex says that coming out of a tough season, he's extremely disappointed with the prices. 

"I’m leasing a permit -- just for $20,000. And that’s another ten grand for the boat, and then the stuff that I pay for renting the storage, and then taxes for gear and all this other stuff," he says. "And then what happens is, we get $0.70, so I go home. I can make more money on unemployment.”

Alex says the low base price means it’s not worth investing more into the fishery; he plans to sell his boat.

“I see the season that I could have worked at home, very mild sleep, be with my kids, my wife, and make the same," he says. "Here I only slept for an hour or 30 minutes, and boys that are working their butts off, and we get that? It’s not worth it.” 

Trident fishermen also confirmed bonuses of $0.15 for RSW, $0.05 for bleeding, and $0.05 for chilling. 

Heading into the salmon season, seafood market analysts said that a combination of COVID-19-related factors could drop the base price for sockeye this year. Those factors include increased processor costs because of virus mitigation plans and shrinking restaurant demand. 

If you fish and have information about your market’s base price that isn’t on our list above, please contact the KDLG fisheries team at fish@kdlg.org or 907-842-2200.

Weather Wednesday

The KDLG studio is hot, and it’s hot and sunny outside, too. In fact, the entire bay has warmed up this month. University of Alaska Fairbanks Climate Specialist Rick Thoman walks us through icy oceans this winter, and hotter water this summer.

 

THE NUMBERS

Across the bay, daily catch was almost 700,000 fish yesterday, at 698,000 to be precise. The total catch in the bay is now 36.5 million. Escapement across the bay was 196,400 for a cumulative of 17.9 million. Bay-wide, the total run is at 54.4 million fish -- that is just 2 million less than last year’s total run. Right now, it’s the seventh largest run on record. The Naknek-Kvichak makes up almost 44% of the bay’s total run. And Ugashik has met its upper end escapement goal of 1.4 million fish!

Nushagak District

The Nushagak fleet caught 63,000 fish yesterday. Average drift delivery was 585 sockeye. The season total harvest is at 8.7 million, attributed 68% to the drift fleet, 25% to Nushagak set netters, and a little under 4% to Igushik set netters. Escapement across the district was 35,700 -- about two thirds of which came from the Wood River. Total escapement is now at 3.6 million. The Nushagak’s total run is at 12.4 million. 

Looking at escapement by river…

Igushik River

The Igushik River crew counted almost 7,000 fish swim past the tower yesterday, for a total of 280,300. That’s right in the escapement goal range of 150 - 400,000 sockeye.

Nushagak River

The sonar site in the Nushagak River counted 4,200 fish. The season total escapement there is 1.2 million so far, about 300,000 over the upper-end escapement goal of 900,000.

Wood River

The Wood River crew counted 24,500 fish. Total escapement is now at 2.1 million. That is about 300,000 above that river’s upper-end escapement goal of 1.8 million.

Togiak

Harvest information in Togiak is confidential again. As of the last public daily harvest count on July 17, the cumulative harvest came to 161,400. Escapement up the Togiak River yesterday was 11,400, for a total escapement of 82,000. That is a little less than three quarters of the way to meeting the lower-end escapement goal of 120,000. The total run in Togiak is at 243,400.

Naknek-Kvichak

The Naknek-Kvichak fleet caught 246,000 fish yesterday -- average drift delivery was 550. The season total harvest there is at 13.3 million, caught 81% by the drift fleet, 11% by Naknek set netters, and 7% by Kvichak set netters. Escapement across the district was 75,800 yesterday, bringing the total escapement to 10.3 million. The Naknek-Kvichak’s total run is at 23.7 million -- that is almost 44% of the total run in the bay.

Breaking that escapement down by river…

Alagnak River

The Alagnak tower counted 41,900 fish yesterday. Total escapement up the Alagnak River is at 2.2 million. The minimum escapement goal for that river was 210,000. 

Kvichak River

In the Kvichak, 13,700 fish were counted escaping upriver, for a season total of 3.9 million -- heading toward the middle of the Kvichak’s escapement goal range of between 2 million and 10 million sockeye.

Naknek River

The Naknek River tower counted 20,200 fish yesterday for a total of 4.1 million. That is more than double the upper-end escapement goal range of 2 million fish for that river.

Egegik

Egegik’s fleet caught 236,000 fish yesterday. The drift fleet brought in an average of 840 fish per drift delivery. The cumulative harvest is at 12 million. That was caught around 87% by the drift fleet and 13% by the set netters. The Egegik counting crew saw 20,900 fish escape yesterday, for a total of 2.3 million -- that’s 300,000 over the upper-end escapement goal range of 2 million fish. The total run there is at 14.4 million.

Ugashik

Fishermen in Ugashik caught 153,000 fish yesterday, for a total of 2.1 million. That cumulative harvest was caught 78% by drifters and 21% by set netters. The Ugashik has also met its upper end escapement goal of 1.4 million fish! Escapement up the Ugashik River yesterday was 52,600. The total run in Ugashik is 3.5 million.

Chignik 

On the Chignik River, as of 5 p.m. 2,046 sockeye passed the Chingik weir. The total run is now at 201,214 sockeye. The early run is at 135,458 and the late run is at 65,756.

As of 5 p.m. 12 chinook had passed the weir, bringing the season cumulative for chinook to 825. 6 pinks passed the weir, bringing that season total to 625. No chum passed today -- that season total is 6. 

Area M

At Area M, the South Peninsula Commercial Salmon fishery was closed yesterday so there is no harvest to report from there.

Area M’s total sockeye harvest is 1.7 million so far this season -- made up primarily of sockeye caught by the North Peninsula fleet, which hauled in 1.2 million sockeye so far this season. Area M’s chinook catch is at 17,500 -- that comes mainly from the South Peninsula fleet. Pinks are at 1.9 million -- those are virtually all harvested from the South Peninsula fleet. The chum harvest is at 575,300 -- mainly from the South Peninsula fleet.