Fascinating report in The Alaska Dispatch analyzing the size of some of Alaska gamefish like salmon and halibut.
Here’s reporter Sean Doogan:
Small fish were also gumming up the top of many of the state’s silver salmon derby leader boards. And fisheries biologists say that red salmon in Cook Inlet, Bristol Bay and Prince William Sound were noticeably smaller this year, too.
Cook Inlet commercial fisheries biologists are still crunching the numbers from this year’s run, but they’ve already have noticed a trend — shorter, and thinner sockeye salmon.
“That was the attention-grabbing species during course of summer,” said Alaska Department of Fish and Game Cook Inlet Commercial Fisheries Biologist Pat Shields.
Bristol Bay, which hosts the largest wild run of sockeye in the world, saw reds arrive small and late. According to Fish and Game, the average size of red salmon caught commercially in Bristol Bay in 2015 was the smallest on record: 5.12 pounds — almost 13 percent smaller than the average. By contrast, the average weight for Bristol Bay reds last year was 5.96 pounds.
There were similar stories throughout Alaska.
“The size of sockeye is much smaller than average this year, and we are seeing that around the state,” said Jason Pawluk, a sportfishing biologist with Fish and Game’s Soldotna office.
Whether or not this is an anomaly or a sign of things to come, it’s something to think about and continue to monitor for sure.