BRISTOL BAY, Alaska — The highly anticipated annual wild sockeye salmon season in Bristol Bay, Alaska has officially commenced and fishermen are gearing up for what is expected to be one of the most bountiful in history. The 2023 harvest runs through September, and is forecast to be among the top five strongest in the last 20 years, estimating a haul of around 37 million fish. This means plenty of delicious, wild sockeye salmon in restaurants and grocery stores nationwide, making this sure to be the summer of sockeye.
In 2022, Bristol Bay had the largest wild sockeye salmon harvest on record, bringing more than 60 million fish (104% higher than the 20-year average). While this season is unlikely to top that record, it is still anticipated to be 40 percent greater than the average annual run recorded since 1963. The flavor-packed fish is available at retailers nationwide at seafood counters or in the freezer case with many promotions running throughout the summer, driving wild sockeye salmon to one of its most affordable prices in recent years.
Retailers across the U.S., from national chains to regional specialty stores, are gearing up to bring fresh Bristol Bay sockeye salmon to eager customers this summer throughout more than 8,000 stores, coast to coast. If you see sockeye salmon in the grocery store or on menus this year, chances are it came from Bristol Bay.
“We are very excited to kick off the season,” says Andy Wink, Executive Director of the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association (BBRSDA). “With the harvest projected to be similar to years past, consumers can expect wild sockeye to be widely accessible and affordable for all of their summer meals and cookouts.” The robust harvests of the last few years reflect the collaborative work between the Bristol Bay fishers, biologists, local community, and seafood processors that make up the industry.
Bristol Bay, Alaska is home to the largest wild salmon run on the planet and produces half of the world’s supply of wild sockeye salmon. Its six major river systems support thousands of fishermen and millions of wild sockeye salmon. The pristine environment has been the foundation for 130 years of sustainable harvesting by generations of small boat fishermen. In 1959, Alaska became the only state to include sustainable fishing within its constitution, meaning consumers can feel good about how it’s harvested and know that all Bristol Bay sockeye salmon is wild and sustainable.
Alaska sockeye, also known as red salmon, is one of the most popular salmon species due to its deep crimson color and rich flavor. The fish is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA), which are essential for promoting heart health, suppressing inflammatory responses, and improving brain function. Sockeye is also naturally high in many essential vitamins and minerals, and boasts the highest vitamin D content of any salmon species.
Wild sockeye salmon can be found fresh throughout the harvest season, as well as frozen, canned, or smoked year-round. Bristol Bay fishermen often freeze their catch just after it leaves the water, locking in nutrients, maintaining quality, and helping to reduce food waste. The firm texture of sockeye makes it perfect for almost all preparation techniques, including grilling, broiling, sautéing, roasting, poaching, steaming, and smoking, making it the perfect protein for any summer dish. For more information, cooking tips and more visit www.bristolbaysockeye.org.
About Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association:
The Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association is a fishermen-funded group with the mission to increase the value of the Bristol Bay fishery through education, quality outreach, and marketing.