Commercial fishermen expected to see a large harvest this year, based on forecasts, but it doesn’t looks like those predictions will carry through.
As of Wednesday, more than 1 million sockeye salmon had passed the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s sonar in the Kenai River. Fish and Game biologists a had originally projected between 4.3 million and 5.6 million sockeye would return to the Kenai River this season, with a total of between 6.4 million and 8.3 million sockeye returning to the entire Upper Cook Inlet system. An assessment the Division of Commercial Fisheries completed through July 26 upheld the original forecast.
However, it now looks like the run will come in lower than predicted — about 1 million less than projected will come to the Kenai River, and a total of between 1.8 million and 1.9 million fewer fish will return to Upper Cook Inlet, according to Pat Shields, the area management biologist for the Division of Commercial Fisheries in Soldotna.
“Since (July 26), the sockeye run has really slowed down,” Shields said. “It really has decreased in its daily entry into the inlet.”