A total of 40.18 million sockeye are expected to return to Bristol Bay in 2019, the Alaska Department of Game announced Friday.
This is 10 percent smaller than the most recent 10-year average of Bristol Bay total runs (44.4 million) but 16 percent greater than the long-term (1963–2018) average of 34.2 million fish.
A run of 40.18 million sockeye salmon would allow for a potential total harvest of 27.6 million fish—26.11 million fish in Bristol Bay and 1.49 million fish in the South Peninsula, said ADFG.
This year, Bristol Bay saw the largest sockeye run since 1893 at 62.3 million fish. It also saw the largest gain to date in ex-vessel value for its salmon.
The district's sockeye salmon harvest was 41.3 million, and is the second largest harvest on record. The run was 21 percent above its preseason forecast of 51.3 million fish, with all districts except Egekik experiencing larger-than-expected runs.
Historically, sockeye salmon runs to Bristol Bay have been highly variable.
"Forecasting future salmon returns is inherently difficult and uncertain, ADFG said. "We have used similar methods since 2001 to produce the Bristol Bay sockeye salmon forecast which have performed well when applied to Bristol Bay as a whole. Since 2001, our forecasts have, on average, under-forecast the run by 11 percent and have ranged from 44 the actual run in 2014 to 19 percent above actual run in 2011.