University of Washington’s FRI predicts lower-than-average 2024 Bristol Bay sockeye run
The University of Washington’s Fisheries Research Institute (FRI) has issued a preliminary forecast for the 2024 sockeye salmon run in Bristol Bay, Alaska.
FRI is estimating a run of 38.9 million sockeye across the bay, with a total harvest of 26.4 million sockeye. The forecast is calling for an average fish weight of 5.5 pounds, which would result in a harvest of 145.1 million pounds of salmon.
The forecast is based on aggregated Alaska Department of Fish and Game data plugged into a dynamic linear model developed by University of Washington and University of Alaska researchers.
If the prediction holds, the run would be down 32 percent from the 10-year average between 2013 and 2022, and 19 percent below the 20-year average.
The 2023 Bristol Bay harvest reached 39.4 million sockeye, with a total run of 53.3 million fish. The capture total was near the five-year average of 41.8 million sockeye, but below the record 61 million sockeye caught in Bristol Bay in 2023. In November 2022, ADF&G had forecast a run of 51 million sockeye and the UW-FRI forecast called for a run of nearly 50 million salmon, with a catch total of approximately 35 million salmon.
This year’s catch totals could have been higher, but many Bristol Bay fishers shortened their seasons or didn’t fish at all due to low prices. Higher-than-average catch totals have let to a glut of fish in the marketplace, which combined with lower consumption, has hurt the ability of processors to pay for fish.
On Friday, 1 September, ADF&G said most of the state’s salmon runs are winding down, with 49.9 million sockeye salmon captured statewide. Across Alaska, the total salmon harvest has exceeded the preseason forecast by 26 million fish.
Photo courtesy of Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association