top of page

Bristol Bay Fisheries Collaborative (BBFC)

Providing resources for a world-class fishery management system

Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G), BBSRI, drift and setnet fishermen, processors, municipalities, villages, support industries, and other stakeholders.


A simple agreement between ADF&G and BBSRI to work together with stakeholders to restore a world-class fishery management system and raise funding to support and maintain it.


Began in 2016 after a 30%+ cut to ADF&G's budget over several years.

To ensure that State fishery managers have sufficient resources to intensively manage the Bristol Bay salmon fisheries for the benefit of all users (subsistence, sport and commercial).

Additional Information

Over the fall and winter of 2016/2017, BBSRI worked with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) and other stakeholders to find ways to shore up ADF&G’s management system for Bristol Bay salmon, while minimizing the risk that by doing so stakeholders do not simply accelerate further budget cuts by the State.  


In October 2016, BBSRI signed an agreement with ADF&G to contribute and raise funding from the fishing industry and local boroughs, cities, and villages to fill a fiscal gap between the current scope of ADF&G's management program in Bristol Bay (i.e., 2016), and a scope similar to 5-7 years ago.  

We coined the initiative the “Bristol Bay Fisheries Collaborative” (BBFC) but this is a very simple agreement and process.  A four-person technical team from BBSRI and ADF&G has defined the scope of what keeps the management world-class.  All projects supported by BBFC have been done in the past.  BBSRI raises the money and provides it to ADF&G via a Cooperative Agreement and in the form of a match to ADF&G's current Bristol Bay operating budget, which is close to $2M annually. ​


BBSRI agreed to match all stakeholder contributions on a 1:1 basis, thereby providing 50% of the funds required.

Core Program -  How much money?
BBFC’s four-person Working Group, made up of BBSRI and ADF&G biologists and managers, identified a “Core Program”, made up of a suite of field programs and management structure that will provide ADF&G the tools to intensively manage salmon fisheries in Bristol Bay.  The proposed Core Program is similar in scope to what was done 5-7 years ago, and a bit smaller than it was in the mid-to-late 1980s.  All BBFC supported projects have been done by ADF&G at some point in the past; these are not "new" projects.

BBFC-funds eliminate the unpopular State-sponsored fishing to raise money for management (i.e., “cost recovery fishing”).

  • The difference between ADF&G’s General Fund allocation (~$2M) and the cost of the Core Program for salmon in 2018 was ~$750,000.  This was raised by BBSRI and the BBFC process.  

  • In recent years, stakeholders have provided ~$350-400k to support some of these programs, so the $750,000 does not represent all “new” money, but does represent an increase in stakeholder support over the years prior to BBFC.

BBFC's Technical Working Group

ADF&G, Commercial Fisheries Division

Sam Rabung, Director

Jack Erickson, Research Supervisor


Michael Link, Executive Director

Jeff Regnart, Technical Adviser

More Reading

For more background and the rationale for BBFC: click here to download the original proposal and Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between BBSRI and ADF&G (September/October 2016).  Aspects of this initiative have evolved since this document was prepared, but it serves as a useful backgrounder.

Assessment Projects Supported by BBFC in 2019 ($757,000)

The Core Program projects implemented in 2019 include the following.  More details are contained in the annual report (link to report at top of page).

  • Port Moller Test Fishery – This project is jointly operated by ADF&G (the vessel and vessel crew) and BBSRI (field technicians onboard, data interpretation, daily updates to industry, annual reporting).  Data are used by fishery managers to assess the strength of runs to different districts and the overall run when the fish are still 6-9 days from arriving to the inshore districts.  Industry uses the information to allocate tenders, fishing vessels, and manage related capacity throughout the season.  Fish buyers also use this information.  Separately from BBFC funds, ADF&G supports the genetic analysis from fish caught in the Port Moller Test Fishery ($90k), which provides the stock composition at Port Moller and allows us to predict stock-specific run strength. This improves managers understanding of how many fish are yet to come and can affect decisions on opening and closing the different fishing districts.  The second vessel at Port Moller in 2019 was funded separately from BBRSDA and  BBSRI.


  • In-river Test Fisheries on the Ugashik, Egegik and Kvichak rivers – These gillnet-based test fisheries are operated by ADF&G and provide managers more timely information on fish leaving the districts than the upstream counting towers.   This allows timelier decision making associated with opening the fishery when escapement has moved upstream of these three fishing districts.


  • District Catch Sampling – Seven ADF&G technicians sample the commercial catches from all five fishing districts.  These samples provide information on the age composition of the catch and genetic stock ID.  This information is used to assess the strength of the current year run, and is used to prepared pre-season forecasts and evaluate escapement goals; without which neither would be possible.


  • Alagnak River Counting Tower  – Three ADF&G technicians operated the project .  The tower is used to enumerate escapement. This information is used in-season by the Naknek-Kvichak manager to determine the Alagnak contribution to the district catch; this helps quantify the size of the Kvichak run, which is needed to determine fishing opportunity in the Naknek-Kvichak district.   The escapement data is used to make pre-season forecasts of abundance and evaluate the escapement goal.


  • Nushagak River Sonar – Two components were funded again in 2019.  BBFC again supported about 1/3 of the cost for ADF&G to operate a sonar project on the Nushagak River upstream of the district from early June through mid-July.  BBFC also supported the Nushagak sonar operation from mid July through mid August to enumerate pink and coho salmon.  Seven ADF&G personnel operate the June/July portion of the project and this drops to five personnel in last July.  All species of salmon are enumerated and the information is used to manage the sockeye and chinook stocks to meet escapement goals (and subsistence needs).  These data are also used to prepare pre-season forecasts and evaluate escapement goals.

  • Aerial Surveys of the Naknek and Kvichak watersheds – ADF&G flies these spawning ground surveys to apportion salmon escapement among the sub-drainages of these two river systems.  The information is used to assess escapement goals and helps to understand the factors driving (or not driving) the Kvichak cycle.

  • Management Trainee - BBFC supported an entry level Biologist position to assist with project operations on the East side of Bristol Bay.  A Fish Biologist I was hired from May 1 through end of August. This person assisted with pre-season logistics in Anchorage before transitioning out to King Salmon on June 1. During the fishing season the FB I was responsible for overseeing the operation of the three East Side in river test fish projects. In addition, the FB I was trained in the day to day operations in the King Salmon office. After the fishing season, the FB I coordinated the breakdown of field camps, assisted with motor and boat maintenance, and preliminary data analysis until their season ended on August 31.

bottom of page