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: Alakanuk, Kotlik, Marshall, Russian Mission, Holy Cross, Nulato, Koyukuk, Huslia, Galena, Tanana rapids, Rampart, Minto, Nenana, Fairbanks, Circle, Eagle, Dawson.
Fishing reports: Alakanuk reported that people have reduced their harvest of king salmon by 25%. Kotlik reported not much fishing yet. Marshall reported that very few fishers have king salmon and mostly chum are on the drying racks. Russian Mission reported more chums than kings. Holy Cross reported that a fisherman got 20 kings and it is picking up with 2-3 kings per drift and more people are starting to go out. Nulato said a couple of boats went out and got about 4 kings, couple of chums and couple of sheefish. Koyukuk reported they caught their first 3 kings in a set net and tried seining but did not get anything. Huslia reported that people are catching sheefish and no salmon yet. Galena asked for fish from the lower Yukon test fishery due to the flooding and that they are not going to be able to fish most likely. The rapids area is whitefish fishing now and only a couple of wheels will go in and people may share fish from the wheels. Not many people have 6 inch nets. The Tanana River folks are waiting for the fish. Circle said people are getting their fishwheels ready and fishing with whitefish nets. Eagle said someone is fishing for sheefish and they are not sure they fish for king salmon due to conservation concerns and low numbers. Dawson said there is no fishing and they are waiting for the king salmon to arrive but will most likely conserve them for future generations.
Assessment and Management report: The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) reviewed preliminary genetics from the first pulse of king salmon and showed 55% Canadian origin kings at the lower Yukon test fishery and 75% Canadian origin kings at Pilot Station. The department attributes the higher number of Canadian kings to their conservative management strategies this year. The king run is looking better than originally anticipated going into the fishing season. Extensive management strategies were stated as maybe still being needed to meet escapements and they will look at increasing opportunities to harvest summer chum due to the higher than anticipated numbers of those fish. Summer chum commercial harvest numbers and king salmon released alive from the dip net and beach seine gear was reported for this date. Subsistence and commercial fishing have been taking place at the same time and is allowing opportunity for fishing summer chum while protecting the king salmon in the lower river districts and not having complete closures.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reviewed where the early fish and first pulse of king salmon are in the river at this time and also where the summer chum salmon are in the river.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada said they will respond to abundance as the fish cross the border and will follow the Yukon River Salmon Agreement harvest shares and escapement goals.
Public comments, questions, and answers:
It was asked if the genetic information could tell which rivers the king salmon were going to. The department said that they do not have a breakdown by river due to small sample sizes and that they only have the breakdown of U.S. vs. Canada stocks.
Kotlik reported being confused about the fishing gear use and were worried that they did not harvest fish yet on the first pulse. Management said that typically the first pulse comes in the south mouth and the second and third pulses move into the middle and north mouths and Kotlik will get a chance to harvest these fish with the 6 inch gear restriction in place.
People asked when their closures would take place and what gear they would be required to use. Management told people to be on standby for news releases with this information.
It was asked if we might end up putting too many summer chum salmon on the spawning grounds due to the high return to the river and lower harvest. Management said that it was too early to tell and there would be upcoming fisheries taking place in Kaltag and the Tanana River.
Again it was asked if there would be an opportunity to have a teleconference to talk about salmon bycatch before the October North Pacific Fisheries Management Council and YRDFA responded that we are looking into this and will let people know later in the summer.
Information on the king salmon intercepted in the Aleutian Peninsula June fishery was requested and management said that 2,016 king salmon were caught in the south peninsula fishery and 274 king salmon were caught in the north peninsula fishery. Genetic information will be provided on the next call.
Multiple questions were asked of the management agencies about their test fishery data, the certainty of it, the reliability of it and the impact it has on the fish themselves as well as enforcement and gear issues. Management responded to this information as was possible on the call.
For the most current fisheries updates from the ADF&G, please click here to visit their website.
To receive the Yukon River daily update, call the ADF&G Emmonak number at 907-949-1320.
For an automated update on the fishing schedule, call the toll free number of 1-866-479-7387.
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#.
Due to the high volume of callers, please mute your phones upon entering the teleconference by pressing your mute button or *6; to speak, after you have muted your phone, please enter again *6. If you do not mute your phone, your line will be muted for you by GCI.