KING SALMON (AP) -- The Bristol Bay red salmon run has now topped a million fish, and though it's still too early to predict a strong season, state fish managers are encouraged.
''Egegik and Naknek-Kvichak (districts) are above projections at this point in time,'' said Slim Morstad, a fisheries manager for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. ''But it's still early in the run to tell what we've got going.''
Catch for the bay as a whole totaled 262,000 sockeye as of Thursday morning, with the Egegik district providing 163,000 of the total. Adding escapement of nearly 900,000 fish, the total Bristol Bay run stood at 1,053,649 fish.
Processors have considerably more capacity this season than last year, when they were swamped with a huge catch in a short period, Morstad said.
''We have a daily capacity of about ten million pounds,'' he said. That's roughly two million pounds more than last year''
The department is forecasting a slightly smaller sockeye salmon run this year, compared with 1999's return of 41 million.
Fish and Game's preseason forecast estimated that 35.4 million sockeye would return to the region this summer, with a projected harvest of 24.3 million fish. That would be down from 1999's total harvest of 25.3 million but well above the 10 million fish netted in 1998's disastrous season.
It's too early in the season for any price trends to develop, Morstad said.
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