Bristol Bay fishermen and processors are celebrating one of the largest sockeye runs on record. This year’s run was predicted to be 41.5 million fish with a harvest of 27.5 million, but the fleet hauled in more than 37 million fish, and the total run topped 56 million, according to harvest data from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game on Aug. 1.

If a huge uptick in volume wasn’t enough, fishermen are also getting better prices for sockeye this year. Buyers are paying a base price of $1 per pound this year, up from 76 cents last season. A lot of fishermen are also going to see a 15-cent pay bump for chilling their catch and a 5- to 10-cent bonus for floated and bled fish — all of which is happening more frequently throughout the fleet now, according to Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association staff.

The Nushagak District set records with the total run coming in at just over 19 million fish, blowing past the previous district record set in 2006, when 14.7 million fish were counted. Total harvest was up to 11.5 million fish, well above the 10.8 million hauled in 2006.

The region also saw two days during which fishermen caught more than a million fish, something that had never happened in the district. On July 3 when 1.5 million fish were caught, four boats sank or were grounded in the area as they struggled to get through poor weather weighed down with heavy hauls.

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Samuel Hill is the former associate editor for National Fisherman. He is a graduate of the University of Southern Maine where he got his start in journalism at the campus’ newspaper, the Free Press. He has also written for the Bangor Daily News, the Outline, Motherboard and other publications about technology and culture.

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