- Associated Press - Thursday, July 9, 2015

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Experts say this year’s Bristol Bay sockeye harvest will be less than half the record-breaking boom recorded last year.

Commercial harvest forecasts had put the catch this year at 37.6 million fish. As the season’s halfway point passed, that number fell by over 17 million sockeye, the Alaska Journal of Commerce reported (https://bit.ly/1Hiim4F).

Experts are saying a late run is unlikely.

“My perspective is that the run is below forecast,” said Travis Elison, the management biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Dillingham office. “That’s pretty obvious to me.”

The season usually peaks at its midpoint, roughly by July 4. Elison said the most delayed peak was recorded in 1971, at six days late.

He said signs of a late run would have presented themselves by now.

“The data is solid,” said Elison. “We’re seeing fewer fish come back than predicted.”

The 20-year average for caught sockeye salmon is at 23.5 million, with 41.1 million caught last year.

McDowell Group fisheries economist Andy Wink says this year’s slump could help unload canned and frozen inventory leftover from last year.

“In the long run, we would have had to work through this excess supply,” said Wink. “This will bring the market into balance quicker. When you have a shift in supply, the demand doesn’t keep up equally.”

It’s unclear how this will impact prices.

If 37.6 million sockeye could be caught, fisherman would have needed to be paid 93 cents per pound to make as much as last year.

Early reports say they’re being paid about 65 cents per pound.

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Information from: (Anchorage) Alaska Journal of Commerce, https://www.alaskajournal.com


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