Alaska’s Bristol Bay summer harvest of sockeye salmon is on its way to busting all records since commercial fishing there began in 1883, according to state fisheries officials.
Cumulative catches in Bristol Bay through July 11 hit 46.6 million fish, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game reported on Tuesday. The previous harvest record of 44.3 million sockeyes was set in 1995.
The numbers were still on the way up with a long time left in the season.
“This record-breaking harvest reflects the collaborative work between the Bristol Bay fishers, biologists, local community, and seafood processors,” said Lilani Dunn, marketing director of the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association.
“When enjoying Bristol Bay sockeye salmon, Americans should feel a sense of pride that they have chosen to support a fishery that has taken extreme care over many decades to preserve true sustainability, ensuring that generations to come will also be able to nourish themselves with this near-perfect protein,” Dunn said in announcing the tally.
ADF&G has predicted the Bristol Bay run could bring 73.4 million salmon returning, the largest inshore run ever, with potential landings of up to 61 million fish.
“This year’s salmon fishery will continue for weeks, with a final record certain to be set,” the BBRSDA noted.
“Congratulations to all the resourceful fishermen, processors, tender crews, and support workers who are now part of history, the largest harvest in Bristol Bay’s long history,” said Andy Wink, the BBRSDA’s executive director. “It takes thousands of tough people laboring through exhaustion, rough weather, sore muscles, mechanical problems, and more to make it happen. Kudos to the dedicated biologists who continue to help keep this fishery thriving and have the skills and confidence to predict this massive run.”
Bristol Bay sockeye now shows up fresh in supermarket fish counters across the U.S. The BBRSDA counts 3,200 retail stores carrying this summer’s salmon including Publix Super Markets, Hy-Vee, Whole Foods, Heinen’s in Cleveland, Ohio, New Seasons Market in Portland, Ore.,Wegmans, Harris Teeter, Rosauers Supermarkets, Raley’s, Quality Food Centers and Dierbergs Markets.
To learn more about the Bristol Bay Sockeye Salmon marketing program, visit marketing.bristolbaysockeye.org. The program is funded by the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association.