The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) released a more detailed forecast Thursday for the upcoming sockeye salmon season, projecting a 75.27 million run of sockeye, with around 39 percent of that fish projected to come from Bristol Bay's Nushagak River District.
ADF&G is estimating a harvest of 59.9 million fish in Bristol Bay, which is 75 percent greater than the most recent 10-year average harvest of 34.2 million, and 170 percent greater than the long-term average harvest of 22.2 million fish.
The Nushagak District sockeye salmon inshore run forecast is approximately 29.5 million fish, ADF&G said. The projections follow similar patterns to last year for the river district, which saw unprecedented daily harvest rates.
An inshore run of approximately 20.7 million sockeye salmon is expected for the Naknek-Kvichak District in 2022.
The 2022 Egegik River inshore run is forecast to be approximately 16 million sockeye salmon. The 2022 forecasted inshore run of sockeye salmon to Ugashik River is 6.1 million fish.
The 2022 inshore run of Togiak River sockeye salmon is forecast to be approximately 1.2 million.
A major run predicted but bumps anticipated
Alaska processors are already anticipating not being able to handle the nearly 60 million salmon that could be available this summer if Alaska's sockeye salmon run matches projections.
Processors intend to purchase up to 52 million salmon in 2022, said ADF&G earlier this week, after surveying 15 major unnamed companies who intend to purchase the salmon from fishermen.
That means nearly 8 million fish could be left in the water this year, and Bristol Bay fishermen could lose out on over $100 million (€88.4 million), according to the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association (BBRSDA).
The average size of Bristol Bay sockeye salmon is also expected to continue to be small in 2022 based on recent trends and forecast return of smaller 1.2 and 2.2 age classes.