Bristol Bay’s 2017 sockeye salmon harvest smashes expectations
The total harvest for wild sockeye salmon in Bristol Bay, Alaska exceeded 37 million fish during the 2017 season, surpassing projected harvest figures by more than 10 million fish, according to the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association.
This latest harvest stands as one of the most plentiful for Bristol Bay, which is home to the largest sockeye salmon fishery in the world. Sockeye harvestors experienced the third-largest harvest in 40 years in 2017, BBRSDA confirmed, far outnumbering original projections of 27 million sockeye expected for the season.
Bristol Bay-caught sockeye account for upwards of 75 percent of all sockeye salmon harvested in Alaska this year, the fisherman-funded association said.
“The immense size of Bristol Bay's healthy wild salmon stocks are a testament to sustainable fisheries management practices that stretch back for generations,” BBRSDA said in a press release. “The high abundance of Bristol Bay sockeye salmon means the fish are often quickly frozen after harvest to preserve the absolute freshest flavor, and then sold year-round in premium markets around the world.”
Independent small boat fishermen hand-harvest much of Bristol Bay’s sockeye salmon, with the Bay’s commercial driftnet fishery made up of 1,800 permit holders currently.
“Each boat represents a small business, employing an additional three to four crew members, supporting over 14,000 jobs in this rural region of Alaska,” the association said.