State fisheries biologists in Alaska are forecasting a run of 46.55 million sockeye salmon into Bristol Bay in 2016, with a potential harvest of 29.52 million reds in Bristol Bay and 1.72 million fish in the South Alaska Peninsula.
That prediction is 15 percent greater than the previous 10-year average of total runs and 41 percent greater than the long-term average of 32.94 million fish.
A run of 46.55 million sockeyes can produce a potential total harvest of 31.24 million fish. A Bristol Bay harvest of 29.52 million fish would be 8 percent greater than the previous 10-year mean harvest and 46 percent greater than the long-term mean harvest of 20.20 million fish.
That compares with last year’s forecast of 53.981 million sockeyes, which came in at 8.8 percent over forecast at 59.97 million fish.
Preliminary harvest totals put the 2015 Bristol Bay sockeye harvest at 35.673 million reds, with a total value of $92,396,000, based on 50 cents a pound. With the addition of Chinook, coho, pink and chum salmon, the overall Bristol Bay harvest of 46.218 million fish was worth $89,335,000.
Harvesters in Bristol Bay earned $192,691,000, or $1.20 a pound in 2014 for their harvest of 28.8 million reds, and a total of $196.581 million for an overall harvest of 30.948 million salmon of all species.
Total runs of sockeyes into Bristol Bay have historically been highly variable, noted Chuck Brazil, the state’s Bristol Bay area research biologist, who compiled the forecast data with assistant area research biologists Fred West and Greg Buck.
The 2016 forecast of 46.55 million fish, released on Oct. 29. is above the long-term (1963-2015) average of 32.93 million fish, and above the most recent 10-year (2006-2015) average of 40.54 million fish.
The run forecast to each district and river system includes 23.17 million reds to the Naknek-Kvichak District, with 12.69 million fish to the Kvichak River, 5.72 million to the Alagnak River, and 4.76 million to the Naknek River.
Other forecasts include 7.41 million fish to the Egegik District, 4.95 million fish to the Ugashik District, 0.66 million fish to the Togiak District, and 10.36 million fish to the Nushagak District, including 7.53 million fish to Wood River, 1.74 million fish to the Nushagak River, and 1.09 million fish to the Igushik River.
The total run forecast of 46.55 million reds is expected to be comprised of 16.28 million age 1.2 fish, 12.70 million age 1-3 fish, 11.40 million age 2.2 fish and 6.05 million age 2-3 fish, with minor age classes contributing to the remainder of the return, the research biologists said.