SOURCE: Bristol Bay Seafood Development Association

July 27, 2015 16:26 ET

Historic and Thrilling Bristol Bay Sockeye Season Ends With a Surge

35 Million Sockeye Salmon Harvested and Heading to Markets Around the World

DILLINGHAM, AK--(Marketwired - July 27, 2015) - There was much anticipation going into the 2015 Bristol Bay sockeye season this year, with some 54 million sockeye salmon forecasted to return. While the final return of sockeye may fall just short of the pre-season forecast, the 2015 sockeye season was a historic one, with a much higher than average return and a surprisingly late, long run. As of July 26, 51 sockeye salmon returned to Bristol Bay with 35 million of those fish harvested. The peak of Bristol Bay's run came in about ten days later than usual this year.

"The season started slow and there was a lot of nervousness on the water, but, as always, the salmon came swimming home on their own schedule. And when they finally did show up, they came by the tens of millions! We had a few rough weather days, but it was an unusually sunny season with lots of rainbows and beautiful sunsets, and the best news is that we have plenty of sockeye for our customers," said Jason McKinley, Bristol Bay fisherman and owner of Caught Wild Salmon.

Unusually late timing of the salmon's return kept fishery managers, fishermen, and seafood processors on their toes as they waited to see how things would play out. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game kept a close eye on in-season fish numbers and managed fishing efforts day-by-day to ensure that escapement targets were met in all the Bay's major rivers.

This year's huge return is good news for chefs and other seafood buyers who source Bristol Bay sockeye and depend on its consistently abundant runs and year-round availability. Because the majority of Bristol Bay sockeye is flash frozen during the peak of the fishing season, late July and August signal the real start of the Bristol Bay salmon season for consumers.

"When you're dealing with a wild food like sockeye salmon, you never know what's going to happen. That's part of the beauty of it and what makes it so special," said Chef William Dissen, chef and owner of The Market Place in Asheville, North Carolina. "I've served Bristol Bay sockeye in my restaurant for the past few years and am thrilled to once again be able to provide it to our customers who've come to expect it on our menu."

Others in the marketplace are also pleased with this season's sockeye return, including the national company Plated, which features Bristol Bay sockeye salmon as part of its meal-delivery menu. "Being able to source and provide Bristol Bay sockeye to our customers is an important part of who we are as a company, and key to our commitment to purchasing sustainable, healthy protein," said Keith Lydon, VP of Operations at Plated.

Thanks to a growing interest in sustainable seafood, and knowing where food comes from, consumers around the country can now purchase Bristol Bay sockeye directly from fishermen through Community Supported Fisheries, farmers markets, and buying clubs. A list of Bristol Bay sockeye suppliers can be found at www.bristolbaysockeye.org.

For images of the Bristol Bay salmon fishery from the viewpoint of a fisherman, check out the full Sockeye Season 2015 photo series by renowned Alaska photographer and fisherman Chris Miller.

For Bristol Bay Sockeye recipes and cooking tips, visit www.bristolbaysockeye.org.

The Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association (BBRSDA) represents the 7,000 drift salmon fishermen who harvest the world's greatest seafood - Bristol Bay sockeye salmon. Learn more at bristolbaysockeye.org and bbrsda.com.

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Elizabeth Herendeen
    Marketing Director
    Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association
    (970) 889-1440
    elizabeth@bbrsda.com