KYUK AM

Commercial Salmon Fishery Returning To Kuskokwim Bay Again

May 26, 2021

A boat rides down a river near Quinhagak, Alaska.
Credit Krysti Shallenberger / KYUK

Commercial fishing will return to Kuskokwim Bay this summer for the second year in a row.

Alaska Fish and Game Assistant Area Management Fishery Biologist Ben Gray said that commercially harvested Kuskokwim Bay salmon will have the same buyer as last year: E&E Foods. The Seattle-based company buys fish across Alaska. Dates for commercial fishing openings have not been finalized, but Gray said that they would not occur before July 1. He said that the commercial fishing season will likely be open throughout July, and potentially into the middle of August. He said there would be a similar schedule as last year, with commercial openers typically every other day. Nets must be 6 inch or less mesh, 45 meshes deep, and not exceed 300 feet long. 

Last summer was the first time in five years that commercial fishing opened in Kuskokwim Bay. The commercial openings were limited to fishermen from the nearby villages of Quinhagak, Goodnews Bay, Platinum, and Eek. To sell their catch, fishermen had to be approved by a group called the Independent Fishermen of Quinhagak Cooperative.

About 70 Kuskokwim Bay fishermen participated in commercial fishing last year. According to Fish and Game, the sockeye salmon harvest in Kuskokwim Bay was exceptionally high last year, while the Chinook and chum salmon harvests were low. Over a two month period, fishermen sold their catch for a total of about $600,000.