Forecast calls for strong Cook Inlet sockeye run

ANCHORAGE — A strong sockeye salmon run is forecast for Upper Cook Inlet next year.

The 2014 forecast by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game expects 6.1 million sockeyes, or red salmon, according to the Alaska Journal of Commerce (http://is.gd/Ozcoky).

The forecast, released last month, also includes a predicted range of between 4.4 million to 7.8 million sockeyes.

At the 6.1 million level, Fish and Game calls for a total harvest of 4.3 million sockeyes and an escapement of 1.8 million fish to all rivers, mainly the Kenai River.

Upper Cook Inlet sockeye are caught in personal use, sport, subsistence and commercial fisheries.

About 2.6 million sockeyes were caught in regional commercial fisheries this year. About 3.4 million fish was the average harvest between 2003 and 2012.

The 2014 forecast calls for a sockeye run of about 3.8 million fish in the Kenai River. That would be equal to the 20 year average, but with a far larger proportion of fish that spent two years in freshwater and three years in the ocean.

The 2013 run on the Kenai was estimated at 3.5 million, with an escapement of about 1.35 million. That’s more than the escapement goal range between 1 million and 1.2 million sockeyes.

On the Kasilof River, a run of 1.06 million fish is forecast for next year. That would be less than the 1.08 million fish seen this year, but it would be more than the 20 year average of 953,000 sockeye.

On Susitna River, the forecast calls for 264,000 fish, substantially down from the 461,000 sockeye this year, as well as the 20 year average of 430,000.

Upper Cook Inlet sockeye runs this year came in well below the forecast. An estimated 3.5 million sockeyes were harvested in the region. The forecast had called for 4.9 million fish.

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