Juneau, AK (KINY) - Chinook or king salmon fisheries will be facing restrictions in 2018. Alaska Fish and Game are encouraging people to stay informed through their website for any changes in regulations or emergency conservation orders.
Forecasts of Chinook populations are projected to be at a record-low return rate for regional and transboundary drainages.
“Southeast Alaska and transboundary-river Chinook stocks are experiencing a period of very low productivity,” said Deputy Commissioner Charlie Swanton. “Escapement objectives are not being met, so we’re calling for an all-out conservation effort on behalf of Alaskans and our Canadian neighbors alike.”
According to a press release, planning for 2018’s Chinook conservative management actions began at the Alaska Board of Fisheries meeting in Sitka in January. With input from stakeholders, the board considered and approved action plans for three stocks of concern: Chilkat River, King Salmon River, and Unuk River stocks. While other Southeast Alaska and transboundary river Chinook salmon stocks are not officially designated stocks of concern, given recent run data and the outlook for record low runs in 2018, additional conservative management actions are being implemented to protect all of these stocks.
Commercial restrictions include the recent closure of the winter troll fishery on March 15, while the May-June spring troll fishery will open only in select terminal harvest areas and a few defined areas on the outside coast to target hatchery Chinook and conserve wild stocks.
Throughout Southeast’s inside waters, the sport fishery will be restricted to non-retention of Chinook salmon. If surplus hatchery Chinook salmon are present, there may be a chance to harvest those fish, but would be announced at a later date.
In personal use and subsistence fisheries, area-specific actions detailed in the board’s action plans will be applied along with measures to protect transboundary Taku and Stikine Chinook salmon stocks.
Canada will also be cutting back on salmon harvests, which could include time, area, bag limit, and gear restrictions to sport and commercial fisheries. This follows meetings between Alaska and Canada Pacific Salmon Commissioners. An allowable catch reduction and nonretention are also being considered.
Further details are expected early next week. Regulation announcements, news releases, and emergency orders can be found on the Department of Fish and Game website.
To view the Southeast Alaska Chinook salmon action plans, visit the following links:
• Chilkat River and King Salmon River King Salmon Stock Status and Action Plan, 2018
• Unuk River King Salmon Stock Status and Action Plan, 2018