Fisheries
1:34 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

UW Predicts the Sockeye Run Will Top Out at 35.5-Million

This year’s sockeye run to Bristol Bay has exceeded the preseason forecast and 2 of the organizations that follow the run are projecting that there are several million fish still to come.

Catches spiked again at the Port Moller Test Fishery on Tuesday. Another 265-sockeye were caught. That’s the largest daily catch since the first peak was detected on June 23rd. The catch at station 2 was just 23-fish but the catch at station 4 was 35-sockeye. The catch at station 6 was 60-sockeye and the catch at station 8 was 98 fish. The catch at station 10 was 49. Tuesday’s fishing effort produced a daily replacement index number of 52. That’s the highest daily number since the 52 recorded back on June 23rd. The daily traditional index number was 106. Fisheries scientist Scott Raborn works for the Bristol Bay Science and Research Institute, which runs the Port Moller Test Fishery. He’s leaving the previous in-season run projection in place with the note that the next 2 days will inform how to interpret the remaining catches at the test fishery. The BBSRI in-season run forecast is 38.3-million. The pre-season forecast was 26.58. The sockeye run has already topped that mark.

The other organization that closely follows the sockeye run to Bristol Bay is the University of Washington’s Fisheries Research Institute. On Tuesday FRI released their final run size estimate of the season. The weighted model anticipates that this year’s run will top out at over 35.5-million sockeye. That’s 6-million fish larger than the organizations preseason forecast that anticipated a run of 29.4-thousand sockeye. FRI notes that the increase from the earlier in-season estimate of just over 31-million is due to the sustained catches from both the Port Moller test fishery between July 2nd and the 5th and the inshore catch and escapement through July 7th. FRI’s in-season report includes specific projections for each district in Bristol Bay. Pre-season FRI anticipated that the sockeye run to the Ugashik District would be 2.4-million sockeye. The latest report now anticipates that the run will top out at 1.8-million. If that’s correct it means that there are around 985-thousand sockeye still left in the Ugashik run. FRI’s preseason forecast for the Egegik District was 6.9-million sockeye but the new report puts the predicted run at 7.1-million. That means that there could be 864-thousand sockeye left in the run to the Egegik District. FRI’s preseason forecast for the Naknek-Kvichak District was for a sockeye run of 11.9-million but the new in-season report anticipates that the run will top out at 17.3-million. That means that there could be upwards of 2 million sockeye left in the run to the Naknek-Kvichak District. FRI’s preseason forecast for the Nushagak District was 7.6-million sockeye but the new report predicts the run will come in at over 8.7-million. That means that there could be upwards of 560-thousand sockeye still to come to the Nushagak District. The preseason forecast for the Togiak District was 542-thousand sockeye but the new in-season estimate is for a run of 495-thousand sockeye. That means there could be another 397-thousand sockeye headed to the Togiak District. In the narrative of the FRI in-season report the University of Washington researchers note that catch plus escapement data through July 7th indicates that we have passed the peak in all of the fishing districts except the Ugashik and Togiak District. Once again the Bristol Bay Science and Research Institute is predicting that the sockeye run to Bristol bay will top out at 38.3-million sockeye while the University of Washington’s Fisheries Research Institute anticipates that the final run will top out at 35.5-million sockeye.

Driftnet vessels in Bristol Bay waiting for an opening.
Driftnet vessels in Bristol Bay waiting for an opening.
Credit Elijah Lawson