Yukon River In-season Salmon Management Teleconference Summary #10

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 10th 2021 Yukon River Salmon In-Season Management Teleconference held Tuesday, August 3rd, 2021. Call lasted 82 minutes. 65 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,
Olivia Ebert from KYUK, Bethel Radio, KUZA public radio Fairbanks,
Joslyn with Indian Country Today.

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

Communities participating:
Nunam Iqua
Mt. Village
St. Mary’s
Pilot Station
Russian Mission
Fort Yukon

Yukon River Organization reports:

Elizabeth MacDonald – Yukon Salmon Sub-Committee Executive Director: Advisory body created by the treaty. We are made up of representatives of the three drainages that we represent. Plus gov officials. They make recommendations on salmon and their habitat. Have recommendations but cannot share them because they are confidential. Have put out a press release asking fishers to not fish. Will be working with DFO on the engagement process. Covid wise, just had another death and it was a younger person, in their 40s. First Chinook arrived in Whitehorse. Hoping that the fish ladder will open.

Brooke Woods – Yukon River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission – I have not been able to participate in the last couple of weeks. Our executive council did meet this week. Our recommendations stay the same with the low fall chum runs but we are encouraging people to continue fishing with their 4”. We are drafting letters to the state to better understand the runs. We will share that when it is approved. We had planned onf NPFMC members doing an outreach trip, but we didn’t have enough participation, and also one member was not vaccinated. We are trying to figure out getting the agency to meet with tribes at a later date. (A person) at NPMFC put together information on bycatch and it is a great presentation. If you are interested please call me. I did speak to someone in the commercial division about area M. Forrest Bauer said we would have to request funds from Murkowski for genetic sampling, or encourage the state to do it themselves.

Serena- We were not successful in getting anyone to get on the call for Area M or for Bycatch. It has been difficult to get anyone to come on the call to answer questions.

Management Reports:

Bonnie Borba – ADF&G Yukon River Area Research Biologist: assessment project info. Yukon Area Fall Season Research Biologist with ADFG. Fall chum is well below 300,000 fish. 1 million is average. We will be using assessment projects to see if the run size improves. The 2nd pulse has entered the river. 57,000 chum salmon have come into the river. Average is 206,000 by this date. Midpoint is typically aug 10. Average run size is 243,000 for coho salmon. Fall chum average 68% age 4 and 25% age 5. First group was all aged 4 (?) no age 5s. Salcha run has failed. Weakness in chum salmon is not just in the Yukon River. All Western Alaska chum runs are weak including Kuskowkim. Norton Sound most runs are having record lows. ADFG is working to determine which factors are causing the poor runs.

Christy Gleason – ADF&G Yukon River Area Fall Manager – The stormy weather broke and we are seeing some sun today. Although here at the mouth of the Yukon we have been catching near zeros for coho and fall chum. Still predicting to be critically low for fall chum. Fishing will remain closed. Fishermen should prepare to remain closed. Selected gear can be used in the lower river for anything other than chum and chinook and if those are caught they must be released alive immediately. Look at the releases for legal gear in your area. Fishing schedule toll free number 1-866-479-7387.

Holly Carroll – US Fish & Wildlife Service Yukon River Area Manager-Nothing to add.

Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Vesta Maker – Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada Biologist: Stock assessment reporting for Oliver Barker- Chinook run is now entering into Canada and all assessment projects are up and running. Porcupine sonar has historical low runs. Main Stem- generally reporting numbers below and well below average. Some counts are better than 2020. In Whitehorse, the first chinook has arrived. Water in headwaters is decreasing but still high. Yukon River Tribes are having slow decreases in water levels. Stewart and Klondike are low for this time of year. Porcupine have risen and water temps are staying low 63 degrees.

Jesse Trerice – Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada: Report given by Vesta because of static phone line. Given the information that came out of Pilot and observed in Eagle, there are no harvestable chinook salmon for Canada. Fishing will remain closed.

Community level reports:
Whitehorse: Dennis Zimmerman -Yukon Panel member- We have had crazy storms recently with lots of rain. There are two new organizations that are salmon related. Yukon First Nation Salmon alliance, supports Yukon First nations with technical assistance. Salmon Knowledge Hub, associated with canadain mountain hub, support Yukon salmon. Creating an ethical space with ethical knowledge.

Dawson: Unknown-Water levels are average. No Fishing.

Districts 6a, b & c
Fairbanks: Dorothy – Nothing to report, just listening.
Nenana: Victor – Went on the river yesterday. It’s pretty lonely out there. No fishing. Water is low for this time of year.

Districts 5a, b, c & d
Eagle: Ruby – Not much to report. Hot and dry this week. Water levels are normal. No drift. No fishing. It is very quiet. One household expressed the deep loss that they are feeling with no fish. They are concerned that their kids will forget how to fish. There are families that are going to purchase pink carcasses to feed dogs. I plan to buy a coho to jar for my family for the winter.

Fort Yukon: Catheine reports for Kara’lisa – No one is fishing. Water is low. Fishing just opened up but people do not have 4” nets. Fish wheels are not on the river waiting. Hard times in Fort Yukon due to no fishing and personal reasons.

District 4a-Upper Yukon
Anvik: Ken – I don’t see any fishing or any activity. I was on a boat on the river all last week. The river has come up. There is drift coming down. No fishing at all. Berries are getting ripe. No rose hips, or raspberries.

District 3-Coastal/Lower Yukon
Russian Mission: Basil – Basically no fishing. Those 4 4” nets that were in front of town all summer are out of the water. We have had some good weather. People are berry picking. There are a lot of bears around the berries. More than usual probably because there are no fish in the river. Finally had good weather, no wind, and an effort to look for berries. A lot of blueberries are still green. Probably because of the cold summer we are having. Everyone is switching gears. We are past the “I wonder if the fish will come in ” and moving on to “what can we do to supplement our diet” Freezers were given out to every household. Tribes gave out 4” nets. Expect to see some nets set out before town in the next few days. We need whitefish for agutak. Looking for berries and wondering about moose.

District 2-Coastal/Lower Yukon
Marshall: Norma – This past week has been chilly. But we got sun after we prayed and got baked. I tried to go berry picking yesterday but it was in the high 80s. Other than that there is no subsistence fishing in Marshall. We have big berries in Marshall. The water went down and the swallows left.

David – Not home at marshall right now. I’m at the Kuskokwim. There I’ve been hearing that Area M has intercepted… (unable to hear). I was wondering if there are any watchdogs in that area. They are intercepting all our fish. At one point in the past we had a cap at 400,000. That doesn’t seem to exist anymore. It has been scientifically proven that our fish pass through that area. ADFG is aware of this. I wonder if we can…. (unable to hear). It’s just wide open. What is our what can we do to protect our (salmon?). I am also hearing a lot of stories about the trawlers. They just dump. I’ve seen it happen and nothing is being done. The observers are turning a blind eye to everything that is happening out there.

Serena – YRDFA board will be working on proposals this fall to present to the Board of Fish and one of the proposals will be Area M.

Pilot Station: Martin – got cut off last teleconference right at 3pm. Have a small statement written. The system has failed over the last 20 years. ADFG management has strictly controlled our salmon lifestyle. The salmon life cycle is 7 years. Why haven’t their numbers increased? Because the system isn’t working. Alaska Native People who’s sole diet is salmon will suffer greatly this winter. We have been forced to gear restrictions. We have been told our gear and boats will be confiscated if we fish. It’s a failing system. These weekly meetings are not working.

Serena- These weekly meetings are to provide a platform for fishers to ask questions to management. We greatly appreciate your comments and questions.

St. Marys: Eric – Not hardly anyone fishing, even with 4”. Lots of rain and then heat. Its about 80 degrees. I tried dip netting this morning for a couple hours. Nothing. We are now competing with guides and tourists coming out for hunting. It’s impacting our way of life. The same thing that has happened with fish is going to happen with moose. The system is failing. Way to go Russian Mission for helping your people.

Mt. Village: Nita – No activity here. Water is dropping. Good weather the last couple of days. Some people are still picking salmon berries. Hopefully more people will try to catch more white fish for the winter storage.

Coastal District 1-Lower Yukon
Nunam Iqua: Joe Afcan – ADFG and USFWS thank you for opening for dip netting. Sad to have missed the better quality salmon. I also appreciate the fisheries of Bristol Bay for donating to the residents of the Yukon River. Although I am pretty sure that most fishers would have preferred to catch their own salmon. Area M – NPFMC- We need representation at that council. So we can help managers regulate. I appreciate what Mr. Kelly at Pilot Station expressed on that subject. Very little we can do to manage the salmon out in the high seas.
The…(unable to hear) extreme weather in Canada where the salmon has gone. The subject of salmon hatcheries should be brought up again and where the temps are not too high like near the Bering Sea.


Basil – I forgot to ask about the seashare of the bristol bay salmon. Russian Mission hasn’t received any.

Norma – Distributions will be through RyanAir and will be delivered maybe Friday.

Jennifer Hooper- AVCP – Fish will be coming between Wednesday and Friday this week. Other communities will receive their fish via tender.

Victor – Just wondering where the fish are. Seems like they are disappearing. Hopefully someone is trying to figure out our problem.

Deena- ADF&G- Yes, thanks for that question. That is the huge question in the room – what is happening with the fish and why we didn’t see them show up this year. We will be working on this over the winter. There is a whole committee of researchers and scientists as part of the JTC and out in the bering sea. Salmon numbers, distribution, diet. There could be a lot of factors adding up. Really big complication problem to try and figure out.

Holly- USFWS- So many factors affecting salmon. Continue baseline studies such as ICH, but problem is that we have to kill the salmon to look at the heart. Very difficult to get the sample sizes we need. We do need to monitor ICH. It is a disease with some years of heavy prevalence. Are large numbers of salmon dying from this disease? In future seasons, we need to think about essential sampling for this disease. Another piece of research is…(unable to hear) that has been working really well. They can study the fish in the ocean and can accurately predict the number of fish coming back into the Yukon. It is a level of research that is giving us very good results. They are continuing to work on those models. It is very promising research.

Victor – Thank you Holly and Deena. Keep up the good work!

Dennis – Listening to Eric, I’ve been to his fish camp. Makes me reflect on the shared values we have along the Yukon River. It is clear that everyone is hurting. What I’ve heard is that the system is not working. Wanted to thank ADF&G and DFO for the great science and great work. We need to ensure that science continues. We also need to focus on the people’s science. We probably are not going to find the silver bullet. I will reinforce the R&E fund for ways to adapt to keep kids cutting fish, with the few fish we’ve got to keep those cultural elements alive. We have seen that in Canada and now it sounds like it is starting to happen in Alaska. And thank you Serena for doing an incredible job, it’s not easy facilitating these teleconferences.

Victor – Dennis great comment.

Brooke – One more update: we were in contact with the TCC Henshaw weir team and they are experiencing flooding and had to pull the weir and are trying to figure out how to get home. They are having spring time drift in Alatna because of the flooding in Henshaw.

Stanley – Porcupine River – River has been pretty shallow up here. 6” raising up in the last 2 days. Salmon are low. Sonar has counted 300. There are forest fires. Quality of salmon is good. 2 were caught. There is no one fishing now. One net in the river. Considering we are making every effort to protect the stocks that are coming up here. Opportunities for the rest of the Yukon to plan.

—–Call ended at 2:22pm —–

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