Background: In-season salmon management teleconferences are held Tuesdays in June, July, and August for fishing villages and managers in the Yukon River drainage to discuss fishing conditions and management strategies as the salmon run is occurring. The teleconferences are funded by the Office of Subsistence Management and the Yukon River Panel.
Villages / Locations Reporting: Hooper Bay, Scammon Bay, Alakanuk, St. Mary’s, Marshall, Russian Mission, Holy Cross, Shageluk, Nulato, Koyukuk, Huslia, Allakaket, Galena, Tanana and the rapids, Minto, Nenana, Fairbanks, Fort Yukon, Dawson, Teslin.
Fishing reports: The call opened with village identification and reports on fishing and river conditions starting at the coast of the Yukon River mouth in Hooper Bay which reported people having to take their nets out of the water because they had too much fish (chums). Scammon Bay reported that people have caught a lot of chum since the late break up occurred. Most people quit fishing now. A lot of chums are going through and will be moving up river. Alakanuk reported fishing efforts leading to approximately 100 – 200 chums being caught and 1-4 kings. Water is still high there with some debris. A person from Saint Mary’s reported being done with their chum fishing and only caught 1 king. Marshall and Russian Mission said people caught chum salmon, the debris is still in the river but less than last week and the water is high. Russian Mission said people do not have the 6 inch nets required by management for fishing. 2 salmon were caught 30 miles below Holy Cross and Shageluk will not begin fishing until they hear reports of fishing in Holy Cross. Nulato and Koyukuk mentioned water dropping there, but the effort is only on rod and reel and whitefish nets. Huslia also reported pike and whitefish fishing and the water is low. The flow of water into Alexander Lake has stopped since the flood in Galena and in Tanana the water is dropping and people are fishing whitefish for dogs. At the rapids, the fish wheels are just being moved into place now that the water level has dropped. The Tanana River is just waiting for fish. Fort Yukon reported that the water level also dropped and fishing effort was on whitefish. Canadian communities of Dawson and Teslin mentioned high water that was holding.
Management report: The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) reviewed the status of test fisheries, their assessment and strategy to date. The test fisheries are not tracking well due to high water and debris. The first pulse should show up in the next couple of days. Fred Bue of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service mentioned that the herring run was late too.
For an automated update on the fishing schedule, call the toll free number of 1-866-479-7387.
For the most current fisheries updates from the ADF&G, please click here to visit their website.
Public comments, questions, and answers:
People asked about the commercial fisheries directed at summer chum taking place with beach seines and dip nets. They wanted to know the reasons why this fishery was taking place and they asked for an update of the fisheries efforts on the next teleconference such as information on the number of summer chum caught and the any incidental king salmon that were caught and released. A caller thought that the ADF&G was not listening to local people about this fishery and that local people have never used beach seines or dip nets before and that traditional commercial fisheries were for king salmon which he would prefer. Another caller expressed concern over the fishery and potential harm to king salmon and commercial interests are the reason behind this. It was explained that the new gear types are being tried to allow for some commercial fishing to take place on summer chum salmon and all kings must be released live into the water.
People asked about fishing regulations and when proposals would be due to the federal subsistence board. USFWS responded that it would be in the winter or spring and the exact date was unknown at this time.
A day of prayer for the river was mentioned and people can find more information about this on the Tanana Chiefs Conference website. It is scheduled for Friday June 21, 1013 at noon.
People discussed the first pulse closures and how many days they may be closed. A complete moratorium for one year was discussed with some people supporting this as the only way to save the salmon. The first pulse closures will happen chronologically up the river starting in Y-1 and people in Y-1 should be on stand-by for the first pulse closure to happen soon, but no first pulse has been detected yet by the test fisheries.
Tanana Chiefs Conference mentioned that 6 inch nets could be purchased by wildlife and parks funds if Tribes need a net for fishing.
It was mentioned that language coming from ADF&G and USFWS should be filtered and adjusted to remove any college level jargon that people from the Yukon River may not understand and to try to write more culturally appropriate language for people.
For further information about these teleconferences, please contact the Yukon River Drainage Fisheries Association at 907-272-3141, extension 102 for Jill Klein or look for us on the web at www.yukonsalmon.org.
All teleconferences are scheduled for Tuesday at 1 p.m. Alaska time (2 p.m. Yukon time) during June, July and August. The toll free number is 1-800-315-6338 and the code is 98566#.