Port Moller Test Fishery

The Port Moller Test Fishery (PMTF) is conducted each year to help processors, fishermen, and fishery managers assess the timing, composition, and abundance of sockeye salmon returning to commercial fishing districts in Bristol Bay. The project is a joint effort between BBSRI and ADF&G, and it has been supported in part by fishermen and processors for years.  Peter Pan Seafoods has provided shore support to the project for decades. The research vessel Pandalus and crew is supplied by ADF&G and BBSRI provides technicians and gear to sample fish and prepares regular data and analyses to managers, industry, and the public.

The PMTF is approximately 150 to 200 miles southwest of the different Bristol Bay fishing districts; sockeye salmon typically take 6 to 9 days to travel this distance.

Historically, up to six stations were fished each day.  Stations are spaced 10 miles apart from June 10 through July 10 or 12; stations 2-12 range from 30 to 80 miles offshore, on a line stretching from Port Moller towards Cape Newenham (see map). From 2011-2019, we have caught fish using a 200-fathom gill net that consists of four 50-fathom shackles that alternate between shackles of 5 1/8 and 4 1/2 in mesh. The resulting daily index of abundance with two mesh sizes replaced the old Index (1987-2010) that was obtained using only 5 1/8 in mesh.  The old net was selective towards older, larger fish. Fish are also sampled for scales and tissue to estimate the age composition and district-specific stock composition.  Up to 11 stock composition estimates are prepared, typically spanning 2-day periods of test fishing beginning around June 20. The genetics-based information allows us to begin to parse the overall Index into relative abundance of fish bound for the different fishing districts, thereby increasing the program's usefulness to fishery managers and industry.

In 2019, we had a second boat (R/V Ocean Cat) operate for 29 days to augment coverage from the core boat.  See the figure from the button on the top right of this page "Map of Stations Fished" to see the focus of the second boat.  Also, see the 2019 report for the benefits of fishing the other half of the run found offshore of station 12.

The Ocean Cat again fished in 2020 with plans to fish the outer stations.  However, due to mechanical problems, the R/V Pandalus did not operate.  We recruited the F/V Americanus in mid-June to assist the Ocean Cat, which had tried to cover as much of the transect as possible.  Also, we fished a 100-mesh (5.125") and 111-mesh (4.5") panels in the 2020 net.  The deeper net set us up to avoid fish running beneath the net in certain stable weather situations, which we saw in 2019 when we experimentally fished a 100-mesh net.

BBSRI distributes four types of information from the PMTF:

  • Daily Catch Updates

    • Report raw catches by panel, set duration, average fish size, weather and seastate, and the PMTF Index

  • Interpretations of PMTF Data and developing run

    • Periodic forecasts of the entire year’s run and its relative strength to various districts (every 3 to 7 days)

  • Stock Composition Estimates of the PMTF catches

    • Released by ADF&G Gene Lab up to 11 times per season

  • Age Composition Estimates

    • Released by ADF&G multiple times per season

Each series of updates are consecutively numbered and delivered by email to everyone on the BBSRI email list serve, then posted to the web page.  Contact Michael Link (project manager) to be added to the list of email recipients for all PMTF updates.  There is no cost to be on the list serve and email adddresses are not shared with anyone.  Those on the list in 2020 are automatically be included in 2021.  Although not mandatory, it is helpful if you could let us us know your affiliation with the fishery (e.g., harvesting, processing, fish buyer, shipper, supplier of gear, scientist, state or federal government biologist or manager). 

Michael Link manages the PMTF project and assists with distributing the daily catch updates.  Dr. Scott Raborn takes the lead in producing the regular interpretations of the PMTF data.  Both can be reached via email during the season and in the off season.

Prior Annual Reports from PMTF, 2010-2020

These reports are a compilation all of the in-season updates that were sent to the distribution list, including the stock and age composition updates, and describe the test-fishing sampling protocol.  We also provide some performance metrics associated with the updates that were issued. File sizes range from 3-6 MB, except for 2015 and 2020, which, unfortunately, are 10 and 9 MB, respectively.

Links to download previous individual annual reports:

2020, 2019, 20182017, 2016,  2015,  2014,  2013,  2012,  2011, 2010.

Port Moller looking SW

Port Moller looking SSE