Despite the hoopla from the record-setting harvest numbers of Bristol Bay Sockeye in the books, studies say these same fish might be in massive numbers, but despite an uptick in weights this year, they aren’t producing massive sizes of individual fish. Here’s more on the data from KDLG radio:
So why might we be seeing this decrease in size? Fisheries biologist Daniel Schindler says a big contributor is increased competition.
“Bristol Bay runs have built to these levels of abundance that we simply could not have imagined 20 or 30 years ago,” he said. “There’s so many fish now that they’re competing very strongly with each other and that grows more slowly when we have years with big returns.”
And it’s not just other Bristol Bay sockeye that the fish compete with. Schindler says over the last 50 years, there has been a buildup of hatchery fish in the Pacific ocean.
“There’s more biomass of salmon in the North Pacific now than there probably ever has been,” he said. “That’s because of this buildup of hatchery pink salmon and chum salmon, and they compete with Bristol Bay Sockeye causing them to grow a bit slower.”