Bristol Bay fisherman lands fishery's 2 billionth salmon

Howard Knutsen holds the 2,000,000,000th salmon to be caught in Bristol Bay since its canned salmon industry began in 1884. Photo courtesy Sharon Thompson.
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BETHEL, Alaska (KTUU) - A fisherman last week landed the 2 billionth salmon to be caught in Bristol Bay’s 133-year commercial fishing history, according to harvest statistics by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Bristol Bay’s 2 billionth salmon milestone was surpassed on Wednesday July 6. That’s 38 years after salmon number 1 billion was caught in the Nushagak River district on June 28, 1978, according to Fish and Game. About 93 percent of the salmon caught in Bristol Bay are Sockeye.

The 2 billionth salmon was among hundreds of thousands of fish caught by commercial fishing vessels in Bristol Bay that day. A symbolic salmon was selected from the multitude and awarded to longtime local fisherman Howard Knutsen, 86, who has fished Bristol Bay for decades.

Knutsen, captain of the Sea Hunter 2, accepted the prestigious fish on board the Lady Helen fishing tender in the Ugashik fishing district near Pilot Point, according to local commercial fisherman Lindsey Bloom.

Bloom says the community plans to send the salmon to Governor Bill Walker in Juneau early this week.

As of Sunday, the total salmon harvest for Bristol Bay this year was at more than 15.6 million.

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