In the Net

Request to Stand Down in Area M

A letter from the Bering Sea Fisheries Association was sent to the Area M Seiners Association, Alaska Board of Fisheries, and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Commissioner to stand down this upcoming fishing season. 4 CDQ’s signed the letter along with other organizations representing areas of Bristol Bay, Kuskokwim, Yukon River, and Norton Sound. The reason for such a request comes from the low returns of chum salmon to the AYK Region and the 1.2 million chum caught in Area M in June of 2021. The chum fish that are caught are spawners and ready to migrate to the AYK region.
The salmon fishery in the Alaska Peninsula has been the subject of controversy between the residents of AYK, Bristol Bay, and Area M for decades. Almost all of the sockeye and salmon harvested in the south Unimak and Shumagin Islands areas in June are bound for Bristol Bay, while the chum salmon caught in June represent a broad mixture of stocks. The predominant stock group (consisting of chum salmon from Bristol Bay and the AYK regions) represents somewhere between 52%-72% of the harvest during the June fishery. At this time a more finite stock identification is not available. Genetic stock identification work is forecasted for the upcoming season.
In the past, management plans varied, including caps on the total number of chum salmon that can be caught, closure windows, and sockeye-to-chum ratios, to name a few. However, during the 2003/2004 Board of Fisheries meeting cycle, the Board eliminated all remaining measures and went to only significantly liberalized and fixed fishing schedules beginning in June that provided 88-hour openings for all gear types, following 32-hour closures and then repeating.
Now more than two decades have passed and we are continuing to draw attention to this management error that is drastically affecting other areas.


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