Yukon River Salmon In-Season Management Teleconference Summary #5

PO Box 2898 Palmer, AK 99645
Tel: 907-272-3141 Toll free: 877-999-8566
Fax: 907-272-3142 E-mail:

Greetings from the Yukon River Drainage Fisheries Association!
Here is a summary of the 5th 2021 Yukon River Salmon In-Season Management Teleconference held Tuesday, June 29th, 2021. Call lasted 149 minutes. 138 callers participated.

Background: Yukon River salmon management teleconferences are held annually every Tuesday in June, July, and August for managers and fishers throughout the Yukon River drainage to discuss fishing conditions and management strategies in real time as the salmon run is occurring. Funded by the Office of Subsistence Management and the Yukon River Panel.

Media present: KYUK-Bethel, KZPA-Ft. Yukon
Political Representatives participating: Sam from Sen. Sullivan’s office

Communities participating: 24
Hooper Bay
Scammon Bay
Nunam Iqua
Mt. Village
St. Mary’s
Russian Mission
Ft. Yukon
Old Crow

Coastal District 1-Lower Yukon
Hooper Bay: Mary- We need to subsistence fish. The fish racks should be filled. What’s the hold up?

Wayne Joseph – How does the ADF&G know that Hooper Bay fish go to the Yukon? We depend on salmon, we need to put away for winter.

Hooper Bay Traditional Council – Hardly anything out here. Just berries. It depends on the weather. The community tried fishing, but didn’t catch anything.

John- It is so sad, at this time everywhere, there is no catching. It is getting worse. I know the stories that my grandpa used to tell us. I’ve never had Hooper Bay closed. We just want any fish to put away for the winter. I heard they are going in the Quinaghak.

Scammon Bay: Clifford – June 27th people went halibut fishing and reported seeing chum jumping out of the water about 6 miles out. The same day on the black river 4” gear was set and pinks were caught, but no salmon. Water level has been extremely high.

Chevak – Roy from TC – no fish harvested other than herring and white fish. Haven’t seen anyone drifting or set netting. No salmon or kings at this time.

Noonie – How are we supposed to give a report if we can’t fish… I have never seen this my whole life, we are closed down, everyone is scared to set a net. The fish are not going to wait for us. You should expect some people to go out fishing because that is what we depend on for survival.

Alakanuk: John – 14 camps, no fish, no drift

Emmonak: Billy – Similar conditions. No fishing. I went to Kotlik. I saw 10 camps, all empty with no fish.

District 2-Coastal/Lower Yukon
Mt. Village: Nita- Interviewed 10. No one is fishing. Water is high and dropping slowly.

St. Marys: Unknown– basically no one fishing and no one is happy… we should go straight to management reports.
Unknown- All these non-salmon species that we fished for, we have been doing this all winter. I need some salmon for the winter, if you come for me “I’m loaded for bear”.
James – My freezers are empty. I have nothing. 2-3 years in a row. How are people expected to live in the village? What are you doing? Don’t make people suffer.

Marshall: Norma – good weather. High 60s, water level has been dropping. No drift. On Sunday we saw swallows over the river. Someone reported seeing smolt in the river. My sister caught sheefish. I spoke to 13 households, no one is fishing.
Salmon berries are 3 weeks out.

District 3-Coastal/Lower Yukon
Russian Mission: Basil – Basically the same. Water dropping has been cold. No one is fishing. Food security concerns are swelling. We are getting pretty concerned and angry.
Sandra – I have been living here all my life. I am so saddened by how we are being managed. No fish yet. We are giving up our food.

District 4a-Upper Yukon
Anvik: Alberta – no one fishing. I surveyed 7 fishermen, no one was fishing. Some want to know when we can fish and when it is going to open. River conditions are high.

Ken – I am just observing.

Koyukuk River
Allakaket: Pollock – rain, white fish, no one fishing, sitting around waiting.

Districts 4b & c-Upper Yukon
Galena: Howard – Stormy, no fish.
Fred – A lot of frustration. We are looking at a very long river.

Districts 5a, b, c & d
Tanana: Stan – Water is stable but high. There is a little more drift. It is high. 4” mesh for dogs. People are making sure there is enough dog food to spread around. ALl fishers in Rapids support the conservation and closures. Small number of kings that I’ve been able to sample. I run up to the camp and sample them. 1 had ick and it’s meaningless with that small of a sample size.

Beaver: Rochelle Adams – No one is fishing, the water is high and windy. The whole community is focused on a search for a missing boater. We need food for our searchers.

Fort Yukon: Kara’lisa – Same as Rochelle.

Districts 6a, b & c
Fairbanks: Virgil – No one fishing. Area M fishery 767,693 Chum caught. Water is going to come up.

Old Crow: Stanley – Reporting from Whitehorse, fishing whitefish, water is high, glaciers melting, might be some lake houses that get flooded…. The Porcupine is different… slow run off this year because the lake froze to the bottom, slowly melting. At the Border, fishing for freshwater fish, (hard to hear) People that rely on salmon and everyone concerned about run size into Canada. We all need the fish but at some point in time we need to conserve. We need to manage in-river what we can. In Canada, we have been following conservation for a very long time. Is there a new goal we need to have for the Border to consider?

Whitehorse: Elizabeth – It’s hot like 86 degrees, a lot of run off, rivers are high. Flood warnings are out. Fishing – none yet. Fishermen are nervous this year.

Teslin: Carl – The water is very, very high. It’s been very hot here but has slowed down. No fishing except freshwater / recreational. So many people all over the river complained about no fish. I am pretty sure you could declare this a disaster. I am flabbergasted listening to no fish. 20 years ago I gave a report at the mouth of the river about this and no one listened. If you don’t listen today, and don’t conserve fish, soon there will be fish at all. The managers do not have their heads in the sand. They are doing what the (science) recommends them to do.

Yukon River Organization Updates

Brooke Wright – Yukon River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission Chairwoman: Happy to be here with you today. I want to share that I come with an open heart and an open mind. As a fisherman from the Yukon River and with children. I am just as heart broken and upset with where we are currently. We met yesterday. The salmon fishing closures are all the way up to Eagle. I know people are attempting to go out with their 4” net, to get non salmon species. I know it is not our main fish, but at this time it is what we have available. 60,000 kings have been counted at Pilot Station as of yesterday.

Carl Sidney – Yukon Salmon Sub-Committee Board Member: The water is very very high. I believe it is very high. It has been very hot here. I think it has slowed down a bit. Only fresh water fish. People are recreational fishing. We’ve been hit by COVID again. I will let Elizabeth do the report.
I want to make a comment. There are so many people complaining about not being able to fish. Brooke just mentioned the word “disastrous” I am sure you guys could declare a disaster and buy some high priced fish. 20 years ago I sat at the mouth of the river and told you that this was going to happen. And you didn’t listen. If you don’t listen today there will not be any fish in 20 years from today. We are doing our best to have fish for our future.
Elizabeth – Explained what YSSC is.

Management Reports Agenda:
(Jeff Estensen with ADFG will give a fall report as the fall season will begin on July 15 /16 in the Y-1 lower river district)

Fred West- ADF&G Yukon River Area Research Biologist – Second pulse seems to be passing the sonar now. Current projections are near or below the lower end of the forecast. Both drainage wide and Canadian Bound. First pulse should be nearing Ruby. Chum, we’ve counted very little in the river. Cumulative Pilot count is the lowest to date. We don’t have enough data to do a projection yet. They are late and weak.

LYTF – increase in indexes in the last couple of days for Chinook. The indexes that we’ve observed haven’t materialized at the sonar. For Summer chum, same situation or worse. We did catch a group of fish yesterday morning, but then this morning the catches were down again.
Counts at the Sonar – through yesterday Chinook was 60,000+/- below the cumulative of 122-123,000. Sumer chum 31,000 cumulative is 500,000
Next project is east fork, they’ve been counting since the 18th of June. They’ve counted 1 chinook and 23 chum.
Henshaw and China have been counting. No salmon. Saltcha just started counting (or maybe tonight). Eagle is on the ground and may have some number this week.
Stock identification program update: May 31 – June 22 = 60% of those fish were Canadian.

Deena Jallen – ADF&G Yukon River Summer Season Manager – People have heard the numbers. It is a really tough year. We projected that it would be, and unfortunately that is what is happening. We have so few Kings in the river, we might not make goals even if we don’t catch a single fish. We are concerned with Kings that are spawning in Canada, but also in other areas of the Yukon. The good news is that that the age and sex data is looking good. Hopefully they make it where they need to go.

We hear these questions about why it’s closed everywhere: Chum fisheries everywhere are poor. Norton Sound counts are the worst to date. We knew coming into the year that it was going to be a poor run for Chinook, but we didn’t know it would be so poor for chum. Hopefully we will see them coming back in bigger numbers. I know it is hard. There just isn’t fish to be harvested.

Lisa Stube – ADF&G Sports fish, Yukon River biologist
As of May 10th, sports fishing for kings and chum closed completely throughout the Yukon River watershed because of low numbers coming in.

US Fish and Wildlife Service

Holly Carroll – US Fish & Wildlife Service Yukon River Area Manager– I know that there are a lot of Q&A. I have nothing to add.

Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Oliver Baker – Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada Biologist
Sr. stock assessment advisor- stock assessment update – We are in the process of preparing for assessment as they come up the river from ADF&G.

Porcupine weir at Old Crow – currently being set up
Fishing Branch – sonar – will count chum

Jesse Trerice – Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada-
No Chinook harvest capability recommended so far.

DFO has recently concluded pre-season planning management with First Nations, will be finalized in late June. Expecting first kings at the border around July 1st. Recommendations from YSSC and will go to the Minister to make sure all fishery managers are in place for sustainable management. 2021 management strategies will be ready later this month. Based on YRP management recommendations and Pacific Salmon Treaty.

Pre-season forecast predicts 42,000 to 77,000 Canadian Chinook, but it is unlikely it will reach the high end. Canada could have a very low to no harvest share as a result. The bottom goal for border passage of 42,500 to 55,000 has not been reached in the last 3 years. We will be closing any non-aboriginal fishing, including sports. Restricting net size to 6” if fishing is allowed for chum. Key priority will remain on conservation. Commercial and recreational will likely remain closed for all of 2021. Looking at Pilot Station and test fishery information and mid-point of run. Over the next few weeks we will rely on ADF&G information and lower bound of run.

Questions and Discussions:
Unknown – Is there a concern for pinks as well?
Deena – no, we don’t have concerns for them.

John – Lisa, is the Richardson and Yukon River bridge closed for sport fishering?
Lisa – I think I need to refer to Deena, but yes for sport fishing yes. Permit areas are closed since subsistence fishing is closed.

Billy – I appreciate the efforts to reduce the chinook mortality. I am concerned with the activities upriver. I appreciate Stan testing for Ick. I am concerned that there would need to be too many fish needed for this testing. I don’t think we should allow test sights that are gong to harm the fish anymore.
Deena – I appreciate your concern. We’ve heard a lot about ick over the years, so we really did want to do some research to find out what was going on. But we’ve decided not to do that this year because of the run size. It sounds like the fish that Stan is sampling is being done opportunistically. There are no projects that are killing additional fish this year.

John – Going back to the test wheel around Rampart on ICH, isn’t all 4” or less supposed to release any salmon?
Deena – Fishing is closed to fish wheels and mesh larger than 4”. If you do get a king and it can’t be released alive, don’t waste it.

Unknown- I am disappointed that the Dept of Fish and Game Commissioner isn’t on this program. I think he’d receive a lot of questions and comments. The emergency we are having everywhere with low fish numbers and here Area M is catching huge numbers. Fish commissions should put something in to have a closure on Area M. Please consider that.
Deena – I will speak a little about the trip I was able to take. We traveled with the commissioner to Huslia, Holy Cross and Nulato. We heard about the concerns of Area M loud and clear. People spoke well about that, and he is learning more information about that fishery.

Unknown – not only the Yukon

Patty- Fish and Game took 3 kings that were not able to be put in the water and were able to give it to an Elder. Someone else had 3 fish taken from them.

Ken – Thank you to Carl from Canada. This is going to get worse. We shouldn’t be using bad language, and it will hurt, but we need to come together.

Gabriel – Emergency declaration everyone is having a hard time right now. It is hard. We need emergency funding for the fisherman for the subsistence users. We wanted to go to the coast and get some halibut and cod, and am waiting on a call. Ken is right. We need to conserve our children. It is hard now, because we will need relief. They will need funding. And you should focus on that.

Stephanie – We are submitting a disaster relief request again this year. That disaster declaration process takes a long time. Funding won’t be available for at least a year, possibly 2. The one from last year has been forwarded to the Federal government.

Virgil – This year we should probably put in a change request to the Board of Fish to close the Area M fishing. Since this is the 2nd year that this has happened. It has to be done by August. I also submitted 2 proposals to restrict hatcheries. People need to support those. Hatcheries are causing a severe problem with the food chain in the north pacific. People need to support the proposals.

Mickey – Thank you to everyone. I know everyone is working hard to get people to fish. It seems like there is going to be zero fishing for Chinook this summer, and I don’t know why people are having a hard time. The fish are having a harder time. If we don’t save any fish for the future, we are going to fish the Yukon right out. For a long time the Fall chum saved people on the Yukon. Virgil had some good recommendations with Area M. It seems like there aren’t going to be any openings, so I shouldn’t go to Nulato. I can help more in Fairbanks. People at home are getting a lot of sheefish. People are getting as much as they can get.

Janet – I wanted to add to Patty’s comment. Why did you just say Thank you. You need to tell us what is going to happen?

Deena – I will reach out to the Troopers. If you can email me details about the encounter I can look into it.
Janet – That should just be standard practice. If you have enforcement, there needs to be standards set. They do what they want when they want, and nothing is reported back.

Dorothy – Last week I made some comments and wanted to clarify. I am all about solutions, what we heard from the Panel, the problem with the run is the ocean. How do we redirect from managing fishers to managing what is happening in the ocean? The other comments I wanted to make, last month, I participated in a “protecting our ways of life” It was the second one. The first one talks about the impact of current management on our land, people, water and air. The second one was to map out solutions to move us beyond our current management. We are hopeful that through this meeting we can develop a comprehensive pathway to achieve our vision with short, mid, and long term goals. How can we as Native people move together to manage our own resources? How do we do this, where do we go?

Holly – I think you’ve brought up a lot of great perspectives. Who do we talk to is such a broad answer. The research is happening among a lot of different agencies. The North Pacific Council could be the people to talk about the management of the ocean. How to change the whole script, I don’t know, because it has been so compartmentalized.

Billy – I agree. I think we need some transparency. It isn’t going to happen on one leg of the whole system. There has to be some understanding of the whole thing.

Hooper Bay or Chevak – We are talking about our fish. The past 2 years. The coastal water has been warm. The fish are further out in the colder water and they aren’t coming in. We have less food now than we’ve ever had. Part of this is the climate. Let’s work together. We can’t take food from Elders. That is wrong. Climate has a lot to do with this.

Unknown- I have a question too – I’ve been hearing that Hooper, Chevak, Scammon have a line from where information comes from. I hear there is a fishing line up around __ and north. I haven’t heard anything about it affecting the coastal side of the villages. I’d like information on that and how it has gotten to us.

Deena – I can’t tell exactly when the regulation was put into regulation. Nothing has changed on the southern boundary. *explains boundary*

Unknown -Hearing you say that I talked to F&G Ian, I asked him about the part of that memo of agreement that we were apart of and he told me that MOA doesn’t apply to us because it has to be revised every year. I don’t see the regulations being updated every year.

I am not familiar with that, maybe you can forward the MOA to be and I can look into it.

Nick – the MOA is the treaty with Canada. The community and the tribes know that we have an advisory council and they are spread all the way up the river state side.

Roy – All these years that i’ve been fishing, we’ve noticed that the water is getting warmer every year. This year in the month of June we’ve had high waters. We usually don’t see that until August or September. This year we are getting a lot of South wind instead of North wind. I am wondering, are there any other areas that are open for fishing?
Deena – Noton sound and Bethel areas should be addressed with those area managers. Emmonak office has the numbers on how to reach them. In terms of Federal and state, we work very closely.
Holly – The waters that Roy is talking about are in state waters. We are all in agreement on conserving the stocks.

Martin – We are in panic mode. We were in the same boat last year. I work in the Tribal office. There was an application for money because of the disaster. There were only 2 people that applied because you had to be broke. ADF&G had all that money on their back burner still. I am asking the state, and federal fish and wildlife how are you prepared to compensate us for these closures, regardless of income. Can you bring crab, or halibut or pollock to households on the Yukon River?

Hooper – How is it scientifically proven that the fish are going into Canada?
Deena – addressed studies.
Hooper – how do you know that?
Deena – we will post a link to the studies on facebook.

Unknown- I am not sure if this is a good question – are we open 3 miles out of the coast line to fish for salmon? Or is that shut down by federal?
Deena – That area is closed.
Holly – That has never been open.
Unknown – Since we are all affected, the criteria for compensation for disaster relief – the wording for those applications… The time is now. We need the fish. We need the funding.

Senator Sullivans office representative – There have been so many heart-breaking and frustrating things. Certainly something that the Senator and his family can empathize with. I am grateful to have the opportunity to work with all of you on these issues, not just in-river but marine. As well as advocating for emergency declaration. I will be on the calls for the rest of the season.

Unknown -Is there monitoring in high seas fisheries for Chinook and chum?
Deena – yes, there is 100% observer coverage.
Unknown – Is there any hope in getting the fish that are caught?
Deena – Serena is working on getting them from SeaShare. These don’t look like the fish that you are used to seeing.

*YRDFA would like to thank Gale Vick for helping provide notes during this teleconference.

ADF&G HOTLINE: 1-866-479-7387 & Fairbanks 907-459-7387
Fairbanks Office 907-459-7274, Emmonak Office 907-949-1320

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