KDLG Header Banner Image
Public Radio for Alaska's Bristol Bay
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Bristol Bay Fisheries Report: June 27, 2022

Sockeye in a net on Kanakanak Beach. June 2022.
Brian Venua
/
KDLG
Sockeye in a net on Kanakanak Beach. June 2022.

Nushagak District fleets caught more than 1.2 million fish on Sunday — the highest daily catch for that day at least since 2017. This is only the third time they've harvested over a million fish in a single day this early in the season.

Tenders in the Nushagak

Nushagak fishermen caught 1.2 million fish on Sunday. That follows a big first opener last week, at more than 800,000 fish. For some perspective, KDLG’s Izzy Ross spoke with Kyle Potter on the tender Gambler, who delivers fish for OBI.

Kyle Potter on the tender Gambler.mp3

Izzy also caught up with Josh Cozby, who just started his tenth season tendering in the Nushagak. He owns and operates the tender Icelander for OBI. His day was a little slower.

Josh Cozby on the tender Icelander.mp3

Peter Pan Seafoods ups its base price to $1.15

Peter Pan Seafoods announced last week it is boosting the price of sockeye salmon from $1.00 to one dollar and fifteen cents $1.15 per pound. The announcement comes a little more than a week after the company announced the starting price.

Peter Pan’s vice president, Jon Hickman, said the price bump is part of the company’s assessment of the season so far.

“Wanting to relay that to the fishermen, as we consider our business partners in this industry, that we believe we can go a little higher," he said. "So we pushed our starting price up a little bit. ”

The processor’s price is now above the average of $1.04 for the past 12 years. While it’s lower than 2021, when Peter Pan set the initial price at $1.10 and then bumped it up to $1.25 in July.

“We know as the season progresses things are going to change, and they’re going to move hopefully upwards," he said. "But I don’t think it’s fair to the fishermen for them to go out not having any idea of what that floor is.”  

Peter Pan is Bristol Bay’s only major processing company to publicly announce a base ahead of the season.

Warm temperatures in the Gulf of Alaska cause concern for toxic algal blooms

State health officials and researchers are urging Gulf of Alaska subsistence harvesters to get their shellfish tested to prevent paralytic shellfish poisoning.

Shellfish sold in restaurants and stores are subject to their own regulatory testing.

That’s after a sample of razor clams from Chignik Lagoon late last week tested for levels of toxins 8 times higher than the limit deemed safe for consumption by the Food and Drug Administration.

Paralytic shellfish poisoning is an illness caused by a marine toxin. It’s serious and sometimes fatal.

Bruce Wright is the chief scientist with the Knik Tribe, and oversees regional shellfish testing. He said that rapid ocean warming in the Gulf of Alaska in late May has made the water conducive to Alexandrium blooms – which produce the toxin responsible for paralytic shellfish poisoning. And it’s only gotten warmer throughout June.

“From Sitka all along the coast, up close to the coast, along Kodiak, lower Cook Inlet, out the Aleutians including southern Alaska Peninsula, the water temperatures had increased 3, 4 degrees. And we’re now approaching 8 or 9 degrees," he said.

Matthew Forester is the biological analysis section manager with the State of Alaska’s Environmental Health Laboratory, which processed the Chignik Lagoon sample on behalf of the Knik Tribe. He said water temperatures can vary from beach to beach. But testing is critically important any time of year.

“The only safe shellfish to consume is shellfish that has been tested,” he said.

Subsistence shellfish harvesters can send in their samples to the state lab for a $125 fee. The Southeast Alaska Tribal Ocean Research – or SEATOR – in Sitka also offers testing for $75.

The Kodiak Area Native Association’s free shellfish testing program ran out of funding at the end of last year, and KANA hasn’t been able to provide testing since then. The omnibus spending package passed last spring includes $50,000 in federal stopgap funds to jumpstart the program, but KANA won’t receive the funds and be able to start testing again until September.

Subsistence on Dillingham's beaches

Commercial fishermen aren’t the only ones catching a lot of sockeye. For more, Izzy and Brian talked about the weekend of fish.

Izzy and Brian talk about his weekend subsistence fishing.mp3

The numbers

Bristol Bay’s fleets hauled in almost 2 million fish on Sunday — and the Nushagak fleet caught more than half of that. The season’s total harvest is now at 5.6 million. Across the bay, 429,505 fish escaped for a total of 2.7 million. The bay’s total run is at 8.4 million fish.

Nushagak District

The Nushagak District saw about 1.5 million fish come through its rivers, bringing the season total so far to 4.76 million fish.

The fleet caught more than 1.2 million fish on Sunday. That almost doubled the season’s total harvest, bringing it to 2.6 million salmon. Average drift deliveries there were 986 sockeye. Escapement was 261,205 for a season total of 2.13 million between the three rivers.

Nushagak River

The Nushagak River sonar crew counted 85,788 salmon on Sunday — a significant drop from the past few days. The season total escapement is now 1.28 million fish.

Only 493 Chinook made it up the river; that total is now 35,818 salmon.

Chum had a push of about 2,764, bringing the season total to over 50,000.

Sockeye, of course, were the largest escapement group by far at 82,531 fish.

Wood River

The Wood River had the highest escapement of any river in the bay on Sunday with 176,094 fish. As of this morning, 44,364 more swam by the counting tower for a season total of 979,386 salmon.

Fish and Game expects escapement there to top 1.1 million in the next couple days. The earliest opener there would be on Tuesday afternoon.

Igushik River

We finally have numbers from Igushik! 2,580 fish came through on Sunday, with over 2,000 more as of 6 a.m. this morning.

Togiak 

Further west in the Togiak District, fishermen didn’t fish on Sunday. The total harvest sits at just below 2,300.

Naknek-Kvichak 

To the east, in the Naknek-Kvichak District, over 300,000 fish swam their way through the waters. The run there so far is 979,999 fish.

243,000 were harvested on Sunday, bringing the total harvest there to 711,857. The average drift delivery for that district was 861 sockeye.

Between the three rivers, 59,676 were counted for a cumulative escapement of 218,142.

Naknek River

The Naknek River had the most at 45,924 fish on Sunday for a total so far and escapement is now 149,100 salmon.

Kvichak River

The Kvichak River had about 13,752 fish escape for a season total so far of just over 69,000.

Alagnak River

No numbers for the Alagnak yet.

Egegik

A bit to the south in Egegik, over half a million fish came through the district with a season total so far of 2.6 million salmon.

444,000 were harvested Sunday with an average of 1,034 sockeye per drift delivery, bringing the total to 2.17 million fish.

108,624 fish made it past the counting tower for a season total of 445,656 salmon towards their escapement goal. The total run so far sits at 2.6 million fish.

Ugashik 

Even further south in Ugashik, there was no harvest and no numbers from a counting tower yet. Cumulative harvest is 113,882 salmon. No escapement numbers yet.

Now let’s take a look at boat registrations.

Registrations: June 27 9:00 a.m. and June 29 9:00 a.m.

There are 350 permits in Egegik right now on 275 vessels with 75 D-boats. Those counts will hold through the next two days.

In the Naknek-Kvichak District, there are 219 permits, which will jump to 259 permits in 48 hours. There are 193 vessels right now, 27 of which are D-boats. That’s expected to rise to 223 vessels on Wednesday, 37 of which will be D-boats.

The Nushagak District has the biggest fleet right now at 974 permits. One is leaving within the next 48 hours. There are 724 vessels, 251 of which are D-boats. That goes down to 723 vessels in two days, but the number of D-boats will remain the same.

The Togiak District has 26 permits on 26 vessels, none of which are D-boats and that will stay the same for the next two days.

Lastly, in Ugashik, there are 42 permits on 34 vessels, 8 of which are D-boats. On Wednesday, there will be 50 permits on 40 boats, 10 of which will be D-boats.

Chignik Weir  

The Chignik River Weir counted 10,941 sockeye yesterday for a season total of 156,973 fish. 705 Late Run sockeye also were counted, for a total of 5,196 fish so far for that run. Only 6 Chinook have been counted this year, already surpassing last year’s count of 0.

Area M 

Over in Area M, yesterday’s harvest was 261,031 salmon. Total harvest so far for the intercept fishery is 5.81 million salmon.

About two thirds of yesterday’s harvest was sockeye at about 171,208 fish. Pinks made up the next biggest portion at 56,067 salmon.

33,596 chum were caught, 157 Chinook were harvested, and 3 silvers were harvested by Area M fishers.

Port Moller Test Fishery

Rough weather yesterday prevented fishing, however stations 4-14 were able to get some information.

Station 4 caught zero fish.

Station 6 caught zero fish.

Station 8 caught 2 fish in the 4 ½ inch mesh and 0 fish in the 5 ⅛. That catch index is 8.

Station 10 caught 0 fish in the 4 ½ inch mesh and 1 fish in the 5 ⅛. That catch index is 3.

Station 12 caught zero fish.

Station 14 caught 1 fish in the 4 ½ inch mesh and 0 fish in the 5 ⅛. That catch index is 3 as well.

Genetic sample processing for the weekend was delayed due to rough seas and the next stock composition should be released tomorrow.

If you’d like to get in touch or give some perspective, give us a call 842-5281 or send an email to fish@kdlg.org

In addition to reports tonight from the KDLG team, we also had reports from KMXT’s Kirsten Dobroth. Thank you!

Brian Venua grew up in Dillingham and attended Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA. He got his start in journalism at KDLG in 2020, interviewing and writing for the Bristol Bay Fisheries Report and signed on as a full-time host and reporter later that year.
Izzy Ross is the news director at KDLG, the NPR member station in Dillingham. She reports, edits, and hosts stories from around the Bristol Bay region, and collaborates with other radio stations across the state.
Corinne Smith is a reporter and producer who grew up in Oakland, California and on her family’s horse ranch in rural San Rafael, CA, a contrast that nurtured a deep appreciation for the complexities of identity and belonging, and connection to place, land and the natural world. She began her reporting career at KPFA in Berkeley, first as a general assignment reporter and then as lead producer of UpFront, a daily morning news and public affairs show. In 2020, she served as the summer reporter for KFSK in Petersburg where she first got hooked on Alaska stories. For the last year, she's been a general assignment reporter for KHNS based in Haines, and thrilled to experience a new part of Alaska and cover the Bristol Bay fishing season this summer with KDLG!