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Salmon Fishery Update
Southeast Alaska & Yakutat Commercial Fisheries

Updated Friday, June 24, 2016

Troll Fishery

The 2016 spring troll season opened April 15, and will continue through June 30. A total of 42 spring troll, terminal harvest area, and directed troll fisheries have opened this spring, with no new openings scheduled for the remainder of the season. Through June 23 (SW 26), approximately 545 permit holders have made 3,583 landings, with a total of 35,642 Chinook salmon harvested. This is an increase in effort from both 2015 and the 5-year average. The 2016 cumulative spring Chinook harvest through June 23 is up from the 5-year average by 3,081, Chinook salmon but down from 2015 by 9,512 Chinook salmon. The current spring seasonal average weight for Chinook of 11.8 pounds is below the 2015 average of 12.8 pounds and below the 5-year average of 13.0 pounds. The seasonal Chinook average price per pound of $8.32 is a $2.81 increase from 2015, an increase of $2.69 from the 5-year average.

Purse Seine Fishery

The first purse seine opening was on Sunday, June 19 for four days in a portion of lower District 2 along the Prince of Wales Island shoreline near Kendrick Bay from McLean Point Light to Polk Island. The first 15-hour openings also occurred on Sunday, June 19, at Hidden Falls Terminal Harvest Area (THA) and Point Augusta. Fifty boats were present at the spring Kendrick Bay fishery harvesting 105,000 chum, 2,500 pink, 2,500 coho, 600 Chinook, and 400 sockeye salmon. Twelve boats were present at the Hidden Falls THA harvesting 2,200 chum and 100 Chinook salmon. There was no reported harvest at the Point Augusta index fishery.

A 15-hour mid-week opening occurred on Thursday, June 23 at Hidden falls. Sixteen boats were present harvesting 4,600 chum salmon.

Initial openings in Districts 1 and 4 can be expected on Sunday, July 3.

The ADF&G pink salmon harvest forecast is 34 million fish, with an 80% confidence interval range of 13–55 million. This is below the recent 10-year average harvest of 37 million fish. Based on combined hatchery chum salmon forecasts, total returns of 9.6 million fish are expected.

During 2014, the pink salmon parent year, the common property purse seine harvest of 33.5 million pink salmon was below the 10-year average (2005–2014) of 37.4 million. Escapements in 2014 were below the Biological Escapement Goal (BEG) range in the Northern Southeast Inside Sub-region and above the BEG ranges in the Southern Southeast and Northern Southeast Outside Sub-regions. Management targets were met or exceeded in 8 of 14 districts.

Drift Gillnet Fishery

Traditional Southeast area drift gillnet fisheries occur in Districts 1, 6, 8, 11, and 15.

Tree Point/Section 1-B

The Tree Point drift gillnet fishery was open for four days starting at 12:01 p.m., Sunday, June 19, 2016. Harvests for Chinook salmon were average, for chum salmon were above average, and all other salmon species were below the previous 10-year average. The effort level of 45 vessels was below the 10-year average of 49. The estimated weekly harvest was 400 Chinook, 4,000 sockeye, 400 coho, 200 pink, and 20,000 chum salmon. The Nass River has a preseason forecast of 679,000 sockeye salmon. For additional information concerning this fishery, see the 2016 Southeast Alaska drift gillnet fishery management plan (PDF 486 kB). The plan is also available at area offices.

Stikine and Prince of Wales/Districts 6 and 8

Districts 6 and 8 opened for drift gillnet fishing for an initial 72 hour period on Monday, June 20. On the grounds surveys indicated an abundance of sockeye salmon below the level to warrant additional fishing time in District 6. However, catches were well above average for fishermen targeting sockeye in District 8. Sockeye salmon catch rates for fisheries in the Stikine River were also well above average with stock assessments indicating the catch consisting primarily of Tahltan Lake sockeye salmon. The preseason forecast for Stikine River sockeye salmon is 223,000 fish, well above the recent ten-year average of 172,000 fish. The early portion of the run will consist primarily of the Tahltan Lake component, which is expected to contribute the bulk of the surplus. With good sockeye catch rates providing confidence in the forecast, a 48-hour mid-week opening occurred in District 8. Both Districts 6 and 8 will open on Sunday, June 26 for 72 hours and then District 8 will open for an additional 48 hours starting Thursday, June 30.

Taku-Snettisham/Section 11-B

The week 26 Taku Inlet / Stephens Passage (Section 11-B) drift gillnet fishery opened for two days starting at noon on Sunday, June 19 with a significant area restriction intended to minimize harvest of Taku River Chinook salmon. In addition to the area closure, a six-inch maximum mesh size restriction was in place. The most recent terminal run estimate of approximately 14,000 large Taku Chinook salmon is expected to result in an escapement of around 13,000 fish, well below both the preseason forecast of 29,000 fish and the minimum of the 19,000–36,000 large Taku River Chinook salmon escapement goal range.

The District 11 fishery got off to a relatively slow start with the time and area restrictions for Taku Chinook salmon conservation keeping the fleet size to a total of 30 boats a little above half the 10-yr average, diminishing throughout the fishing period. Not surprisingly, total harvests were below average for all species as well. Catch Per Unit Effort (CPUE) was average for Chinook salmon and above average for sockeye salmon, but less than half the average for chum, the latter understandable with the prime chum grounds closed due to Chinook concerns. Regarding Chinook harvests, port sampling revealed a little over half the catch were large fish, and factoring in the identified Douglas Island Pink and Chum (DIPAC) fish, the large Taku Chinook harvest is estimated somewhere in the 20–40 fish range. Regarding sockeye, although catches on the first day of the fishery were quite good, catch rates dropped by two thirds on the second day, mirrored later in the week in the Canyon Island fish wheel catches up the Taku River.

With around 99% of the Taku Chinook run now into the river past the U.S. fishery, the entire 11-B area (except for Port Snettisham) will be open next week, and with the sockeye uncertainty we will open initially for two days.

Lynn Canal/District 15

The 2016 Lynn Canal (District 15) drift gillnet fishery will open again for two days beginning Sunday, June 26 in Sections 15-A and 15-C. The entire district will have a 6" maximum mesh restriction to reduce Chinook salmon harvest. The Chilkat River Chinook salmon return is projected to be just below the lower end of the escapement goal, and the gillnet fishery in Section 15-A will also continue to be limited in time and area to reduce the Chinook salmon harvest. Additionally, the escapement of sockeye salmon into the Chilkoot River is currently below goal, with a total 1,714 fish through the weir as of June 24, 2016, and the catch of sockeye in the Chilkat River fish wheels continues to be low. Section 15-C management will focus on harvesting hatchery chum salmon while providing escapement within goal ranges for wild northbound salmon stocks.

The harvest for the two day opening in statistical week 26 (June 19-21) was estimated to be 24,000 chum salmon, 2,000 sockeye salmon, 60 Chinook salmon, and a small number of pink and coho salmon. The harvest of sockeye salmon was about half of the proceeding 10-year average, while the enhanced chum harvest was about 20% of the proceeding 10-year average. An estimated 103 boats participated in the fishery, just below the average.

Yakutat Area Set Gillnet Fishery

In the Alsek River, 15 permits harvest approximately 1,000 sockeye and 10 Chinook salmon. Catch per unit effort (CPUE) was below average and the fishing period remained at one day. In Yakutat Bay, 23 permits harvested 4,400 sockeye and 36 Chinook salmon. The Dangerous River was opened to commercial fishing but was not fished. The Situk-Ahrnklin Inelt fishery was opened for 2.5 days and 45 permits harvested 3,300 sockeye salmon. The Manby Shore fishery opened on Sunday, June 19 for 2.5 days but was not fished. The remainder of the Yakutat District will open on June 26. The East River and Italio River systems will open by emergency order when sustainable escapement counts have been observed. An aerial survey conducted on the East and Doame river systems on Tuesday, June 21 indicated an early, yet strong sockeye salmon return.

Sockeye salmon returns to the Yakutat Area in 2016 are expected to be average to above average. The 2016 preseason forecast of a total return of 684 large Chinook salmon to the Situk River is indicative of a below average return, and subsistence, sport, and commercial fisheries remain closed for Situk River Chinook salmon. These fisheries will reopen when Situk River weir counts indicate that the biological escapement goal (BEG) will be attained. The coho salmon return this year is also expected to be average to above average.

Terminal Harvest Area (THA) Fisheries

Terminal Harvest Area (THA) gillnet fisheries occur in Nakat Inlet, Neets Bay, Anita Bay, Deep Inlet, and Boat Harbor. THA seine fisheries occur in Neets Bay, Kendrick Bay, Anita Bay, Deep Inlet, and Hidden Falls.

Anita Bay THA

The 2016 Anita Bay Terminal Harvest Area (THA) forecast includes 387,000 summer chum, 16,500 Chinook, and 15,000 coho salmon. Anita Bay THA is currently open to drift gillnet and purse seine as a rotational fishery with a time ratio of one to one and will change to a time ratio of two to one in Stat Week (SW) 31. This rotational fishing period will conclude on August 30 when the THA opens to both gear groups concurrently until it closes for the season on November 10 at 12:00 noon. For further information and updates on SSRAA contributions and updates visit their website at SSRAA website. The estimated harvest to date is 1,000 Chinook and 300 chum salmon.

Boat Harbor THA

The inside area of the Boat Harbor Terminal Harvest Area (THA) will remain open until further notice to allow the harvest of the hatchery chums while minimizing the harvest of wild salmon stocks returning to the rivers along the western shoreline of lower Lynn Canal. This area is defined as the inside waters of the Boat Harbor THA west of the department markers at the entrance of Boat Harbor. The remaining area of the Boat Harbor THA will open for two days beginning June 26.

Deep Inlet THA

ThThe Deep Inlet Terminal Harvest Area (THA) rotational fisheries began on May 28. The current schedule allows for seine openings on Sunday, Thursday and Friday; and gillnet openings on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Forecast returns for Deep Inlet THA and Medvejie Hatchery includes 1,782,000 chum salmon, 31,200 Chinook salmon, and 62,000 coho salmon. This season, 90,000 chum salmon are needed for broodstock, and up to 400,000 chum salmon are needed for cost recovery, depending on price. On June 19, 12 seiners harvested approximately 80 Chinook salmon and 2,100 chum salmon. On June 20-21, 19 gillnetters harvested approximately 230 Chinook salmon and 3,500 chum salmon. To date 1,600 Chinook salmon and 23,400 chum salmon has been harvested in the Deep Inlet THA net fisheries. Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association (NSRAA) anticipates a closure of the THA, in early August, will be necessary to complete cost recovery needs.

Hidden Falls THA

The first common property purse seine opening in the Hidden Falls Terminal Harvest Area (THA) opened on June 19 with 15-hour openings expected to occur Sundays and Thursdays of each week during the early season. Forecast returns for Hidden Falls THA includes 1,433,000 chum salmon, 5,400 Chinook salmon, and 194,000 coho salmon. The Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association (NSRAA) needs 190,000 chum salmon for broodstock leaving 1,243,000 chum salmon available for common property harvests. On June 19, 12 seiners harvested approximately 50 Chinook salmon and 6,600 chum salmon. NSRAA intends to use a tax assessment on the common property harvest of chum salmon to satisfy cost recovery needs as provided under AS 16.10.455.

Kendrick Bay THA

The forecasted return for Kendrick Bay summer chum salmon is 868,000. Kendrick Bay opened to the harvest of salmon by purse seine gear on Wednesday, June 15, 2016. The current cumulative harvest of chum salmon through statistical week 25 is 8,000 fish. For further information and updates on Southern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association (SSRAA) contributions and updates visit the SSRAA website.

Nakat Inlet THA

The forecasted return of Nakat Inlet summer chum salmon is 260,000 and for fall chum salmon is 82,800. Nakat Inlet opened to the harvest of salmon by drift gillnet and troll gear on Wednesday, June 1, 2016. The cumulative harvest of chum salmon through statistical week 26 is 6,000 fish. For further information and updates on Southern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association (SSRAA) contributions and updates visit the SSRAA website.

Neets Bay THA

The Neets Bay forecasted return for summer chum salmon is 1,237,000, for fall chum salmon is 250,000, for Chinook salmon is 17,500, and for coho salmon is 254,800. Neets Bay opened to the harvest of salmon by Drift Gillnet and Purse Seine on Sunday, May 1, 2016. The current harvest in the Neets Bay THA through statistical week 25 is 598 Chinook and 2,174 chum salmon by drift gillnet gear and 512 Chinook and 6,811 chum salmon by purse seine gear. For further information and updates on Southern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association (SSRAA) contributions and updates visit the SSRAA website.