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ADF&G Releases Results of 2010 Bristol Bay Sockeye Salmon Processing Capacity Survey

(Juneau) - The Department of Fish and Game’s (ADF&G) preseason survey of Bristol Bay sockeye salmon processing capacity is now available on the ADF&G website at either of the following links: http://www.cf.adfg.state.ak.us/region2/finfish/salmon/bbayhome.php and http://www.cf.adfg.state.ak.us/

Total processing capacity reported in the survey is 1.8 million sockeye salmon per day; with a capacity over the entire season of 31.5 million fish.  ADF&G estimates the number of sockeye salmon available for harvest this year to be 30.53 million fish, indicating that adequate capacity to process the available harvest as forecast by ADF&G will be available.  However, this is only 3 percent surplus processing capacity, compared to the projected harvest, and would constrain the ability to process a larger run, should the harvestable surplus exceed the ADF&G prediction. 

Bristol Bay sockeye harvests have averaged 2 percent above predicted harvests since 2001 and Bristol Bay processors have processed more salmon than their estimated capacity, as indicated in previous capacity surveys, by an average (2004-2009) of 4.9 percent.  In the past, consecutive daily harvests exceeding the 1.8 million sockeye a day capacity, regardless of total run size, have resulted in catch limits being imposed on fishermen.  This could also happen during the 2010 season.

Fourteen processors were selected to participate in the survey.  These processors include the largest salmon processors in Bristol Bay and collectively these companies purchased 99.5% of the sockeye salmon harvested in Bristol Bay in 2009. 

Several processors indicated they would again have a “long haul” fleet and provided information on the capacity of that fleet.  Processors purchasing sockeye salmon in Bristol Bay indicated the number of tenders they plan to employ and the number of fish they intend to purchase in 2010 will slightly decrease compared to the 2009 season.  Processors anticipate increasing their use of air transportation, presumably to supply Bristol Bay sockeye salmon to fresh markets during the 2010 season.

The survey also asked if processors intended to buy salmon from the Ugashik District in 2010, and if so, if they intended to buy more sockeye salmon from that district than they had in 2009.  Six companies indicated they intend to purchase sockeye salmon in the Ugashik District in 2010 and they expect to increase their purchases of sockeye salmon in 2010 above the amounts they purchased in 2009.

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