The Port of Bristol Bay contains the biggest commercial freight dock in the Bay, and it is a hub for cargo throughout Southwestern Alaska. Operations began in 1983, and the Port of Bristol Bay has continued to grow since then. In 1995, the Port of Bristol Bay handled cargo in volumes that made it the United States' 10th busiest port in volume and the 4th busiest in the value of exports of fish. In the first decade of the 21st Century, the Port of Bristol Bay has continued to rank in the top 25 ports by volume and dollars.
The Port of Bristol Bay's Naknek concrete and steel cargo dock covers about 518 square meters (5574 square feet). It is complimented by a six-acre terminal, and there is a 370 square meter (4000 square foot) warehouse for smaller cargo.
The Fisherman's Dock in the Port of Bristol Bay is a 3.7 thousand square meter (40 thousand square feet) sheet pile dock that offers moorage, parking, and services for commercial fishing vessels. Because there are no individual berths at this Port of Bristol Bay dock, the fishing vessels "raft" together when they moor. The terminal at the Port of Bristol Bay operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week from May through August. For the rest of the season, the terminal operates up to 12 hours a day.
The Port of Bristol Bay's South Naknek Dock is a 2.2 thousand square meter (24 thousand square feet) T-style concrete and steel dock with capacity for up to 250 containers and a large area of undeveloped land for future development. Fishing vessels moor at a 61-meter (200-foot) sheetpile area. This Port of Bristol Bay dock has handled from 200 to 400 TEUs of cargo each year since it was opened in 1993, and it is expected to support growth in the local fishing industry.
Port of Bristol Bay docks are open from April through November. Spring dredging maintains an average 5-meter (16-18 feet) depth MLLW at the Naknek Dock, making it a "deep water" dock in this shallow-water bay.
Port of Bristol Bay can support more than 150 barges of up to 137 meters (450 feet) in length as well as about 400 other commercial vessels, small ships, and tenders during the fishing season. Vessels arrive and leave the Port of Bristol Bay twice a day depending on the tides.
At present, vessel traffic outstrips Port of Bristol Bay facilities, making vessel scheduling and service critical to efficient operations. The Port of Bristol Bay Administrator schedules vessels and services. The Port of Bristol Bay can handle all types of cargo including heavy equipment, autos, and fishing gear among many other goods.
Fish pumping operations have capacity to handle more than a million pounds of raw fish that is hauled by truck to the King Salmon air base for distribution outside Alaska. The main export from the Port of Bristol Bay is salmon, with several thousand TEUs passing through the Port of Bristol Bay at one time.