Bristol Bay’s big run may hurt prices in Cook Inlet

Bristol Bay’s big run may hurt prices in Cook Inlet

Bristol Bay is expecting a sockeye salmon harvest topping 40 million fish next year, including the southern Alaska Peninsula. That’s bound to challenge harvesters and processors in ensuring quality, and have a chilling effect on prices for Upper Cook Inlet sockeyes.

A total run of 54 million sockeye is predicted for Bristol Bay, with a harvest of 2 million for Area M, which intercepts Bristol Bay-bound sockeye, and 38.5 million for the bay. The rest should result in adequate escapement for all nine rivers draining into Bristol Bay, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and a separate prediction by the University of Washington’s Fisheries Research Insititute.

It is the largest run forecast since 1995, which saw a total run of nearly 61 million sockeye. The large return is based on a sibling model that produced a high number of one-ocean fish, salmon that spent only one year in salt water, compared to the more common two to three years.

While those smaller “jack” salmon generally pass through the nets of commercial fishermen, and therefore do not show up in large numbers in the commercial harvest, they do get caught in the small-mesh nets biologists use up-river to sample the makeup of returns.

That year-class has a bunch of brothers and sisters still swimming around out there that are expected to come back next season.

The nature of Bristol Bay runs causes problems for processors and fishermen because the run tends to be concentrated over a period of days, not weeks, which could overwhelm processors and harvesters, causing some processors to put boats on trip limits and make it difficult for fishermen with limited chilling capacity to deliver high quality fish.

All that causes a big question mark for markets in other areas of the state.

While Copper River sockeye, with their “earliest and best” marketing strategy, are probably immune, Upper Cook Inlet sockeye are very much at the mercy of the Bristol Bay run.

When the 2014 Bristol Bay run came in 36 percent over forecast in mid-July, the price paid to sockeye fishermen in the Inlet fell around 20 cents per pound. 


Alaska Marine Safety Education Association is conducting a drill conductor training class in Homer on Dec. 13. The class meets U.S. Coast Guard requirements for fishing vessels and is free for commercial fishermen. Call  907-747-3287 or visit to register.

Cristy Fry can be reached at

More in News

Christie Hill prepares to play “Taps” during the 9/11 memorial service on Saturday. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
Homer honors lives lost during 9/11

The Homer-Kachemak Bay Rotary held a Sept. 11 memorial ceremony at the… Continue reading

Judith Eckert
COVID-19 patient says monoclonal antibody infusion saved her life

Antibody infusions highly effective in reducing risk of hospitalization, according to FDA trial ..

A sign flashing “Keep COVID down” also offers information on where to get testing and vaccines on Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021, on the Homer Spit in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
SPH holding steady in COVID-19 surge

Despite hospital crisis in Anchorage, Homer’s hospital not impacted, spokesperson tells Homer City Council.

Brie Drummond speaks in support of mask mandates on Monday, Sept. 13, for the Kenai Peninsula School Board meeting at Homer High School in Homer, Alaska. During a work session before the meeting, the district presented revisions to its COVID-19 mitigation protocols. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
School district revises COVID-19 mitigation plans

The revisions come as COVID-19 cases continue to surge in Alaska and on the Kenai Peninsula.

A protester stands outside the George A. Navarre Borough Admin building in Soldotna on Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Parents square off over masks at school board meeting

Some parents said they will keep their kids home if masks are required, while others say they’ll keep their kids home if masks aren’t required.

Borough School Board election

On Tuesday, Oct. 5, elections will be held for Homer City Council,… Continue reading

Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly election

On Tuesday, Oct. 5, elections will be held for Homer City Council,… Continue reading

Homer City Council election

On Tuesday, Oct. 5, elections will be held for Homer City Council,… Continue reading

Janie Leask, a Homer resident, spoke in support of the new multi-use community center during Monday night’s city council meeting, stating the need for community recreation is vital.
Council moves forward with HERC plans

After years of discussions and planning, the Homer City Council is quickly… Continue reading

Most Read