Yukon River In-season Salmon Management Teleconference #9

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 9th 2021 Yukon River Salmon In-Season Management Teleconference held Tuesday, July 27, 2021. Call lasted 120 minutes. 71 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: KZPA Fort Yukon, Oliva Ebret from Kyuk, Meg Wilcox with Civil Eats

Political Representatives participating: Samuel from Senator Sullivan’s office and Jamie O’Connor from Senator Murkowski’s office.

Communities participating:
St. Mary’s
Pilot Station
Russian Mission
Fort Yukon

Yukon River Organization reports:

Elizabeth MacDonald – Yukon Salmon Sub-Committee Executive Director: Advisory body created under Land Claims – Final Agreement. YSSC is the main instrument of salmon management in the Yukon. Giving First nations the same power as Fed Gov. $ going to BC, they have had some requests to plan a workshop with First Nations to come up with a brainstorming session on what their salmon need. Discussed restoration projects. They discussed salmon and the sad state that they are in. This fall they plan to hold their workshops. Educational Exchange, in partnership with YRDFA. Activity in the salmon rearing area.

Management Reports:

Bonnie Borba – ADF&G Yukon River Area Research Biologist: Currently in Fairbanks – projection is below 300k, average is usually 1 million fish. Pilot sonar has counted 30,000 through yesterday, which is below the 120,000 usually counted. August 10th should be midpoint. We have not aged any fall chum salmon at this time. The summer chum return show that the primary age size failed. 2 full samples were not obtained of summer chum because the size was so small. Talks about the stocks of sample size. Norton Sound projects are also showing low chum salmon. Could be environmental factors and we will continue to look for those to see what we can figure out.

Christy Gleason – ADF&G Yukon River Area Acting Fall Manager – Calling in from Emmonak, strong wind and rain. Marine forecast S winds of to 35 knots and seas up to 13ft Test fish has been zero for fall chum and coho. In past years we’ve had a lull between runs and usually see it pick up in early to mid August. Fall chum salmon projection is CRITICALLY low. Below 300,000 threshold in the Salmon management plan to allow any subsistence fishing at all. Fall management is up through 4A. Lower Yukon and through 4A Subsistence fishing is closed except for selective gear to target coho and pink salmon. Chinook and chum must be released. We made this change due to comments on the YRDFA teleconference last week and calls into the Emmonak office. 949-1320. Also call Toll Free number. Similar to last year, the ADFG will consider the coho run and make assessments at that time.

Holly Carroll – US Fish & Wildlife Service Yukon River Area Manager-I don’t have anything to add. Thank you for those reports. I will stand by.

Fred West- ADF&G Yukon River Area Research Biologist- Summer Season Research Biologist. Chinook and summer chum runs are complete in the lower river. Management has transferred to Fall Season. July 28 will be day that (end of) Chinook run will be at Eagle. Passage of chinook at all US counting places are below average. Summer chum run was weakest and latest on record. Failed to meet goal. Summer chum escapements past Anvik and Andreafsky are very low and likely will not meet escapement goals. All projects are below average. One note is the Anvik river sonar project, just completed. Done counting. Cumulate 18,800 record low. Chena and Salcha both started out strong but the counts have not kept up – below average for Chinook. Eagle cumulative for yesterday 13,700- average for this date was 34,000 – so about ½ of what we normally see.

Holly Carroll – US Fish & Wildlife Service Yukon River Area Manager-We acknowledge that these closures have been an unprecedented hardship on the fisherman of the river. The counts are the lowest in history. Likely even if we didn’t fish at all we wouldn’t make escapement. My hope is that the fish that are making it to the spawning grounds are healthy. 4-5 years from now hopefully those are fishable runs. Thank you everyone for your conservation efforts.

Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Oliver Baker – Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada Biologist: Senior biologist. First part of Chinook runs into Canada now. There are 3 projects. Porcupine Sonar – running since July 1 – 309 Chinook as of yesterday. Below average of 2500 (?). Klondike River Sonar near Dawson – running since July 1 – closer to average 605 Chinook close to historical average of 612. Pelly project is 2000 Chinook close to average for that day of 2600. Looking at the first fall chum salmon into Canada.
High waters are slowly decreasing. The Porcupine river has been low and warm.

Jesse Trerice – Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada: Thank you, Oliver for the update. Chinook are coming into Canada. We are in-season management mode. Given the information from Pilot and Eagle all indications are that there will be no harvestable surplus in Canada. We are weeks away from seeing Chums and predict that we will manage them in a similar fashion.

Stephanie Quinn Davidson – Tanana Chiefs Conference – I wanted to say that it has been a pleasure to get to know everyone on the river. My last day with TCC will be August 6th. I am going to be doing some other work, but wanted to say thank you to everyone that I’ve met over the last 10 years. My heart goes out to everyone. I am always here as a resource. I will be around, in different venues trying to help tribes to have a voice.

Community level reports:
Whitehorse: Elizabeth – Water is coming down. Weather has not been the greatest. Fair bit of rain the last few days. Good for the land which was getting dry and we were worried about fiers. Now it is sunny and wonderful out. General mood for salmon is that we are hoping for some to come back. WE don’t want to see any more record lows. First Nations are asking us not to fish.

Teslin: Carl – I am not sure if anyone else will take part, but we have not been fishing. There are no fish. Water is dropping. Rained all day yesterday, sunshine today. No debris in the water.

Districts 6a, b & c
Nenana: Victor – The river has come up quite a bit and the driftwood came with it. I don’t believe anyone is fishing. One guy was finishing up his wheel. He’s been working on it for 2 years. It’s really nice. I just heard that this is going to be his last wheel. I hope that it is not because of all that’s going on. Who makes the call on the subsistence fish? Is that Holly or someone else?

Holly – The state of Alaska is managing the fishery but we are on the same team for we make the decisions jointly.
Victor – I read somewhere that it was on the Federal side. National fishing magazines state recently that salmon catches in the ocean was pretty high. Near Dutch harbor. I heard that they get intercepted around Area M. Kids camp turned out really good. We got some fish from Emmonak and showed them how to cut it and got it hung, and showed them how much work goes into it. We had about 30 kids and it was really good.

Fairbanks: Virgil – I got the fish for the Upper Yukon yesterday. It got delivered to my plant. As soon as the transportation is arranged we will start shipping fish to upper yukon villages. Where fish came from – processors in Bristol Bay region – about problems on Yukon. They donated the king salmon that they are buying from the fishermen of Bristol Bay. They shipped Emmonak’s fish to Fairbanks. Donated By the processors in Bristol Bay and fishermen were paid to catch them. Big rain here in Fairbanks 2.5 inches. But the river didn’t come up much.

Districts 5a, b, c & d
Tanana: Stan -Water levels low and stable. Finally seeing some rainy weather.
Almost no fishing going on. Occasional net goes in for whitefish. Only 3 camps open in Rapids now and they are not occupied much and usually then only 1 or 2 people.
Humpbacks and Bering cisco are still the main fish caught. No numbers of sheefish or broads yet. Not much to report.

Rapids: Chuck – I work at Yukon River Camp at the Yukon bridge crossing. I have heard reports that although subsistence has been closed on the Yukon River but have heard that commercial fishing has been allowed at the mouth or maybe outside the mouth. Is there any truth in that? Or of salmon species being wasted. At the bridge the water has been slowly dropping.

Christy – ADFG Emmonak. I can answer about commercial fishing for salmon or non salmon. We have not opened commercial fishing for salmon or non-salmon this year in the river or near the mouth.

Beaver: Rochelle Adams – couple of questions, I didn’t hear anything about the openings in Districts 1-3. I was wondering how that was going and if we should expect openings further up river as well?

Christy – The report of fishing in the lower Yukon was that people were looking for an opportunity to fish for pink salmon. We opened a dip and hook and line for fishing. We require live release of chum and chinook. People are thankful. They don’t have 4” nets so this provides additional opportunities.

Rochelle – I guess we don’t have those opportunities upriver.
I am a board member for YRDFA. I would really like to be educated – I hear Victor the Chair asking, “Who makes these decisions” I would also like to know. That is something that we should all know. I would like to know the structure of this management system. In the river and out of the river. (IS THERE A DIAGRAM OF THIS STRUCTURE?) I would really like some education on that. And some sort of document or spreadsheet to know who is making these decisions and how it is connected. It should be baseline so we can be informed in these responsibilities and seats that we hold. I hope you heard my request. Is that something that can be worked on? Or is there material that can be shared?

Christy – We can try to put together a flyer that shows the organization tree for yukon management and management outside of the yukon. We will work with YRDFA and see if we can put something together for next week.
Rochelle – Thank you, that would be great. I just want to know where these decisions are being made. It is just getting worse and worse every week. This will be a starting point and I appreciate that. That being said, I remember hearing a radio show with Stephanie Quinn-Davidson and the impacts that climate change is happening to our fisheries. I would like some of that data as well. If that is a real culprit, then we should know and be educated so we can educate our communities as well.
Serena- Thank you Rochelle – we definitely got something together for our website. For those who are new; the teleconferences were set up as a platform for local fishers to ask questions at a local level and provide that information to fishery managers.
Rochelle – thank you. When I logged in I heard that 40 people were on the call. And this is something that local people should know or learn about. Really glad that Victor asked that question. Flyers are good ways to share that information.

Fort Yukon: Kara’lisa texted report – no one is fishing or maybe just a few people but really no one. Water is low and it has been windy and sad with funerals.

Eagle: Ruby – We have had cooler conditions in Eagle this week. 2 days of much needed rain. Temperatures are in the 70s which is nice. The Yukon river is dropping and slowly coming down. No one is fishing. One family is planning to start fishing for whitefish in August. The children are still swimming in the eddies but we can see the leaves starting to turn yellow. The raspberries are really good this year.

District 4a-Upper Yukon
Anvik: Alberta – No one has been fishing here in Anvik. The water level has dropped. There is no smoke coming from anyone’s smokehouses here in town. I haven’t surveyed because no one has been fishing.

District 3-Coastal/Lower Yukon
Russian Mission: Basil – I was hearing a lot of talk about the lower river opening up for commercial fishing. I am here at Russian Mission and I know that there has been no commercial fishing down this way so I know that is not true. We did open up for selective gear so we could try to get some cohos and humpies, sockeyes. People are getting just enough to eat. We had one good day since the opening. That is when people were trying to dip right in front of town. We had heavy wind. Everyone is looking for blueberries. Switching our mindset. Fishing with rod and reel was a pastime and that is still going on or at least with the opening to try to get grayling rather than salmon because we are conservative. The guys who did said they felt illegal so they stopped. There was a death but the body has not arrived yet. We are waiting for htat. It is a really rough south wind. All the boats are off the beach and in the lake. Off the main river. The dip net opening was to lay off the whitefish and try to get some humpies and sockeye. No kings were caught. Probably 3 or 2 boats got a coho that looked good. No one is fishing because we don’t have good fishing weather.

District 2-Coastal/Lower Yukon
St. Marys: Bill – There is nothing going on here. People picking berries and the weather is really wet. No fishing.

Pilot Station: Martin – No report, just following up on the last 5 weeks of teleconferences to see where we are on the disaster that we had declared. I haven’t heard anything. I just want to make sure we keep on top of things. I like Basil’s report. For the selected gear, we’ve been open for the last week. But no one has gone out here. It defeats the purpose of fishing for salmon and then throwing it back. Pinks are lower grade. Like Pikes, they aren’t selected. I don’t know the management’s idea of making subsistence open to selected gear and throwing back salmon. In my mind if I had disrupted the salmon’s cycle of going up river, it isn’t going to live. So if I caught a salmon, I would have to put it in my boat.

Serena gave an update again on the disaster process.

Martin – My comment was for the senators’ offices. I want to hear what they have to say about the disasters being declared. I want to hear from them.

Samuel – I think you summed it up well. We are monitoring it as well. The office is well aware of. The path forward that you laid out is what we will stick with.

Marshall: Norma – This week has been cold, in the 50s. We had some warm days. The water level went down. High and steady. No debris. Hardly any mosquitos. Berry picking is underway. This weekend we had cranes on the berry grounds. Some people went dip netting. One person caught cisco. Her uncle is in chignik. They are catching lots of sockeye and also chinook and chum. Wondering about Area M and genetic testing. All the rivers have low numbers, its time to close the ocean fisheries.

Christy – Norma, thanks for the report. Question about ocean fishing and area M. Did look at numbers this morning. Typically they catch sockeye salmon, some harvest of chum. 1% of fish caught post June (month of July) that are headed for Yukon. Harvest so far is 160,000. That would be close to 1,000 fish (that could have been headed to the Yukon.)

Coastal District 1-Lower Yukon
Chevak: Joe – I have questions about tributaries in Canada. If I can get Jesse, Carl to answer (question was not captured) I am conservation minded.

Oliver – Part of the trouble is that mining is outside what I do. I can say generally that there are regulations for water quality and where the mining takes place, they don’t allow it to happen where there are salmon spawning and then there are water quality projects as well. It is all considered before the mine is allowed and then monitored during the mining as well.

Joe – From the point of view of mining. I was wondering how much it requires for a good year. I know a lot of salmon escapement out in the ocean is 4-6 years. We get very little in return. We just watch the salmon go by and obey the regulations that the ADFG imposes on all the people of the Yukon River. Considering all of our salmon areas that are harvested throughout the state of AK, some areas are doing better than the Yukon River. All people that depend upon the salmon for their existence are Completely disappointed. I would like, I am really happy that there are a number of things that the Canadians are doing to protect the fish. Including the predatory fish. The northern pike that eats the salmon. I hope the Canadians are doing something about them.

Oliver – It is similar I think from last week. We don’t manage or have any programs for reducing pike numbers. That isn’t something that we’ve done. It is unlikely that there has been a change in the fish eating juvenile fish.

Joe – we know that trollers have a lot of lawyers to protect their harvest. Can we get the same number of people to protect our salmon resources on the Yukon. I would like to know to whom the trollers talk to on the state level.

Norma – Back in the 70s and 80s, my family was a dog mushing family, along with many families. The Marshal population was about 350. About 20 families would have a dog team and dogs would be a bigger pop than humans. I remember growing up and everyone was fishing and ice fishing for pikes. After motorization no one is hunting all the pikes anymore. I know one couple caught over 200 pikes while they were ice fishing. We need to do population control for the pikes, they are eating everything. We would open them up and they would have small salmon, mice, even a baby duck. My grandma would never eat pikes in the summer because they would eat mice.

Joe – I would like to know the Trawler’s lawyers and who they talk to to protect their interests out there in the Bering Sea and North Pacific.

Serena – the North pacific Fisheries Management Council would be the ones to ask that, we have no idea who they are.

Rochelle – Just wanted to address what Joe is talking about. That is why we need a spreadsheet and who is making decisions.

Serena- Feedback – We have had some teleconferences and speakers like Diana Stramm of the NPFMC. There was an email with background information that was emailed out to each Tribal Council. If you like, I can provide that to our website with a link to our facebook page.
Rochelle – Quyana for that. I remember that presentation and I appreciated that. But they are just one organization so I still would like the spreadsheet or diagram.

Basil – I forgot to mention that a few people did take a few humpies and cut them up to cook them on the beach. They had a bunch of red spots, so they didn’t even eat them. Their meat is white now, so they are pretty worn out.

Josh – Please take pictures. Facebook message, or call and we can talk to you about what you are seeing.

Victor – Pacific States marine Commission (did not understand which organization) I mailed it in and I haven’t heard anything back. I got it from the Tribal Council. I don’t know if I am ineligible or something?

Serena- I will look into it.

Fred – Mountain Village – Back in early 70s or 80s. There was a discussion on hatcheries on the Yukon. Where does the state stand on hatcheries in Canada? Maybe it’s time to look into it.
Serena- There is a plan called the Comprehensive Salmon Plan and there are some YRDFA board members who serve on that.

Elizabeth – what is the question? Would there be large scale hatcheries in Canada?
Fred – yeah, where does the State of AK stand on this?
Oliver – The treaty speaks to large scale hatcheries not being a component of Yukon Salmon management. It would require changes to the treaty.

Elizabeth – (Static line) Problem too many out there and they are taking away from habitat out in the ocean. There is support for restoration hatcheries that make small scale production for rebuilding.

Jeffery- Is there a consideration since Salmon runs are so low; to cut back on out of state hunting permits so that there will be more adequate numbers for locals to be able to have more resources.

Holly – Great question. What you are talking about is reducing non-resident hunting. The staff on this call are fishing staff. This might be a good question for the commissioner of ADF&G. For the federal side, we discussed special action for the federal subsistence board for special hunts. That is for federal subsistence users.

Karen Detheridge – OSM – That was a fantastic synopsis. The other thing the osm under the FSB is to make available subsistence hunter permits for federally qualified users. because there are no fish, for people who do not hunt, can designate someone to go hunt for them. Our version of the Proxy hunt that the state uses. We are working on getting these permits to folks who want them. That should provide some assistance for folks along the Yukon. They can go out on FEDERAL lands and get you a moose. We will be coming up with more information on that shortly.

Victor – Great dialog. Stephanie said she is leaving August 6. Is she leaving leaving? Or will she be around the interior? The good doctor might be the only one that can answer some of the questions I have.

Stephanie – You’ll see me around.

———Call ended at 3:00 p.m.——–

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