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Salmon Fishery Update
Southeast Alaska & Yakutat Commercial Fisheries

Updated Friday, July 29, 2016

Troll Fishery

Regional power troll coho salmon catch rates for the current week are 101/day, with the highest catch rates in the Central and Southern Outside areas. Through July 28, the seasonal average weight of coho is 5.9 lbs, which is above the 2015 average of 5.7, and the 5-year and 10-year averages of 5.4 and 5.6 lbs, respectively.  The average price is currently $1.24/lb and the cumulative catch since July 1 is just under 571,000. A news release concerning the assessment of the coho salmon run strength, along with the length of a conservation closure, if needed, and the harvest target for the second Chinook salmon retention period, will be issued no later than August 5.

Troll effort in West Behm Canal targeting chum salmon returning to the Neets Bay hatchery has decreased over the past several weeks, and currently includes approximately 20 boats. Based on fish tickets received through July 28, the average catch/landing for the current week is 100. A total of 67 permits have harvested approximately 104,000 chum since July 1, at an average weight of 9.4 pounds, and an average price of $.63/lb. The area open to trolling expanded by regulation on July 13 to include most of West Behm Canal.

The 2016 Summer Troll Management Plans as well as inseason catch and effort data can be found on the Southeast Alaska troll webpage.

Purse Seine Fishery

The 2016 Southeast Alaska common property purse seine fishery is now in its sixth week. Regional cumulative harvest estimates for purse seine gear as of July 28 are 4.8 million pink and 2.1 million chum salmon. During statistical week 31, fishing occurred on July 24 and a mid-week seine opening occurred on July 28.

Seine effort during the July 24 fishing period included 103 boats in District 1, 42 in District 4, 20 each in District 2 and Deep Inlet Terminal Harvest Area (THA), 17 at Point Augusta, 12 in Section 13-A, and 6 boats in District 3. The largest harvests occurred in District 1 with 674,000 salmon harvested, District 4 with 158,000, Section 13-A with 79,000, District 2 with 57,000, and Point Augusta with 43,000 salmon harvested. Pink salmon harvest per boat was highest in Section 13-A with 6,300 fish, District 1 with 5,800 fish, District 3 with 5,200 fish, and District 4 with 3,100 fish per boat. Chum salmon harvest per boat was highest in Deep Inlet THA with 1,300 fish, Districts 1 and 2 with 500 fish each, Point Augusta with 400 fish, and Section 13-A with 300 fish per boat.

The mid-week seine opening on July 28 included portions of Districts 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 11, and 13. Harvest information for this opening is not available at the time of this update.

Harvest of Southeast Alaska pink salmon through the week of July 24 typically accounts for about 23% of the overall harvest in Southern Southeast Alaska districts and about 39% of the overall harvest in Northern Southeast. Indications are for a total harvest slightly below the preseason forecast of 34 million fish with the majority of the harvest projected in Southern Southeast districts. Indications of pink salmon escapement are normal for Southern Southeast and below normal for Northern Southeast. To date, the pink salmon return is typical of recent even-year returns with the exception of low male:female sex ratios in some districts, suggesting that run-timing may be early.

Drift Gillnet Fishery

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

Tree Point/Section 1-B

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.

The Tree Point drift gillnet fishery was open for four days starting at 12:01 p.m., Sunday, July 24, 2016. The effort level of 40 vessels was below the 10-year average of 45.  Overall, the Tree Point gillnet fishery is below average for every species except pink salmon. The estimated weekly King salmon harvest was 10, below the 10-year average of 40. The sockeye salmon harvest was 3,000, below the 10-year average of 5,700. The coho salmon harvest was 1,000, which is well below the 10-year average of 2,700. The pink salmon harvest was 80,000, much higher than the 10-year average of 57,000. The chum salmon harvest was 20,000, which is well below the average of 31,000 The Tree Point drift gillnet fishery is now being managed according to the District 1 Pink Salmon Management Plan, when the Tree Point Fishery is managed based on the amount of fishing time allotted to the District 1 Purse Seine Fishery. The Tree Point gillnet fishery will reopen on Sunday, July 31 at noon for four days.  For additional information concerning this fishery, the 2016 Southeast Alaska Drift Gillnet Fishery Management Plan (PDF 486 kB) which is also available at area offices.

Stikine and Prince of Wales/Districts 6 and 8

Districts 6 and 8 gillnet fishery was managed for sockeye salmon abundance during week 31. Both districts were opened for 72 hours beginning on Sunday, July 24. Effort was just above the 10-year average for District 6 and near average in District 8. Sockeye catch rates continue to be better than the 10-year average again in District 6 this week. Catch rates in District 8, on the other hand, fell off from what they have been, but still just above the 10-year average. Overall fishery performance did not indicate a surplus of sockeye salmon above the estimated harvest for this week to extend fishing time and both districts closed on schedule.

The Districts 6 and 8 gillnet fishery will transition from sockeye management to pink salmon abundance starting July 31. Pink salmon catch rates were above average this past week in District 6, suggesting there is good pink salmon abundance in the area. Both districts will open for a 72-hour period beginning Sunday, July 31.

The most recent Stikine River sockeye run size estimate is 224,700 fish, just above the preseason forecast. However, it is expected that future estimates will be much higher and well above the 10-year average of 172,000. The latest inseason assessment for Stikine River Chinook salmon produced a terminal run size of 16,500 fish, well below the 10-year average of 30,000 fish.

Taku-Snettisham/Section 11-B

 District 11 had another week of extended fishing opportunity with one day of additional time north of Circle Point and two additional days south of Circle Point for a total of three and four days, respectively. Fishing got off to a slow start this week with dynamic marine weather at the onset holding the majority of the fleet on anchor. Those fishermen still in chum salmon mode were dismayed after the first few sets resulted in relatively few fish and several boats left the district. Effort went from 65 to 48 to 25 boats on days one, two, and three. Sockeye salmon catch rates varied considerably but were generally above a recent ten-year average.

The current Taku River sockeye salmon inriver abundance estimate is over 80,000 fish and after subtracting the Canadian inriver harvest of nearly 14,000 fish results in a number very near to the lower end of the escapement target range. In other words, it appears that escapement is nearly "in the bag" for the Taku River. The US still has a sizeable Allowable Catch according to this most recent run size estimate, so more fishing time should be on the horizon for future openings.

The Speel Lake weir has had just over 100 sockeye salmon pass through and timing seems very similar to last year which was a bit later than normal. Snettisham Hatchery sockeye are still making up a significant proportion of the sockeye salmon harvest in District 11 and even in Section 15-C to the north. Since the run does appear a bit later, the mesh restriction south of Circle Point will remain in place, at least initially, for next week's opening in order to minimize harvest of wild Port Snettisham sockeye. 

District 11 will open for three days starting July 31. A sharp eye will be kept on effort, Taku River sockeye salmon abundance indicators, and the escapement into Speel Lake throughout next week and adjustments in time, area, and/or gear may be made.

Lynn Canal/District 15

The Upper Lynn Canal (Section 15-A) and the Central Lynn Canal (Section 15-C) drift gillnet fishery will open for just one day beginning Sunday, July 31.  Section 15-A will be open south of the latitude of Seduction point and section 15-C will be open south of the latitude of Point Bridget.  The Boat Harbor Terminal Harvest Area will remain open until further notice.

The escapement of sockeye salmon into the Chilkoot River is currently within goal, with a total 30,605 fish through the weir as of July 28, 2016.  The catch of sockeye salmon in the Chilkat River fish wheels and the sonar counts at Chilkat Lake are below average for this time of year.

The Section 15-A drift gillnet fishery is limited to a one day opener to allow escapement of Chilkat and Chilkoot sockeye salmon.  Section 15-C management will focus on harvesting hatchery chum salmon while providing escapement within goal ranges for wild northbound salmon stocks. There will not be a mesh restriction in Section 15-C this week, allowing for the harvest of the predicted smaller average sized chum salmon.

The harvest of chum salmon for the District 15 opening in statistical week 31 (July 24-27) was estimated to be 55,000, adding to a cumulative total catch of 808,000 which is above projections and the 10 year average.  Sockeye salmon harvest in week 31 was 8,500 which is less than half of the 10 year average.  An estimated 10 Chinook salmon, 50 Coho salmon, and 5,500 pink salmon were caught in week 31. 

Effort in District 15 for both sockeye and chum salmon was limited last week due to rough weather.  Current high water levels in the Chilkoot and Chilkat lake systems may be limiting upstream movement of sockeye salmon. 

Yakutat Area Set Gillnet Fishery

The Alsek River has been experiencing severe flooding over the last three openings creating poor fishing conditions. Although fishery performance was below average, the fishing period was extended by one day because the fishing effort was minimal. Nine permits harvested 684 sockeye salmon. In the East River, ten permits harvested 1,300 sockeye salmon. In the Situk-Ahrnklin Inlet, 33 permits harvested 1,600 sockeye, 400 pink and 56 coho salmon. The fishing effort in Yakutat Bay dropped considerably due to weather and poor fishing. Six permits harvested 180 sockeye and 330 pink salmon. Both the Italio River systems and the Akwe River remain closed and may open by emergency order when escapement counts have been observed. The Dangerous River was opened but not fished. Three permits fished Manby Shore outside harvested 1,800 sockeye salmon. Fewer then three permits fished Manby Shore inside waters and harvest information is confidential. Next week marks the beginning of fall fishing time. The Yakataga District will open for coho salmon, and most systems in the Yakutat Area will switch to coho salmon management strategies by the following week. Coho salmon returns are projected to be average to above average.

Just under 50,000 sockeye salmon have passed by the Situk River weir, and the Biological Escapement Goal (BEG) for sockeye salmon has been attained. 330 large Chinook salmon have passed the weir and it is unlikely that the Chinook salmon BEG will not be attained.  The Canadian weir on the Klukshu River is seeing both sockeye and Chinook salmon in better numbers now but the counts are still below the historical average. It is too early and unknown at this time if the escapement goals will be met on the Klukshu weir. 

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 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 two to one. 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 the SSRAA website. The estimated harvest to date is 3,500 Chinook and 54,000 chum salmon.

Boat Harbor THA

The Boat Harbor Terminal Harvest Area (THA) will remain open until further notice in those waters within one mile of the western shoreline of Lynn Canal south of Danger Point 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, as well as reducing the harvest of Chilkat River bound sockeye salmon.

Deep Inlet THA

Forecast returns for the Deep Inlet Terminal Harvest Area (THA) and Medvejie Hatchery includes 1,782,000 chum salmon, 31,200 king 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 July 27, 20 seiners harvested approximately 11,000 chum salmon, and on July 25-26, 25 gillnetters harvested approximately 36,000 chum salmon.  To date 582,000 chum salmon has been harvested in the Deep Inlet THA net fisheries, including 58,000 fish harvested for cost recovery and 4,000 fish for broodstock. The Deep Inlet Terminal Harvest Area (THA) will be closed to all common property commercial fisheries effective 11:59 p.m., Saturday, August 6, 2016. This closure will remain in effect until further notice. Total return of chum salmon to the Deep Inlet THA and Medvejie Hatchery, for this date, is just near forecast.

Hidden Falls THA

Forecast returns for Hidden Falls Terminal Harvest Area (THA) includes 1,433,000 chum salmon, 5,400 king salmon, and 194,000 coho salmon.  The Hidden Falls Hatchery requires 190,000 chum salmon for broodstock needs. To date approximately 17,000 chum salmon have been harvested in the common property seine fishery, 160,000 chum salmon have been placed behind the barrier net with an additional 20,000 chum salmon off the barrier net for broodstock. NSRAA staff has also taken 60 million chum salmon eggs to date. Cost recovery is currently being conducted and no openings will be provided until cost recovery requirements are met. Total return of chum salmon to the Hidden Falls THA, for this date, is well below forecast.

Kendrick Bay THA

The forecasted return for Kendrick Bay Terminal Harvest Area (THA) summer chum salmon is 868,000. Kendrick Bay opened to the harvest of salmon by purse seine gear on Wednesday, June 15, 2016. The Kendrick Bay harvest of chum salmon through statistical week 31 is 544,000 salmon, or 63% of the forecasted return. This total includes 454,000 chum salmon harvested by purse seine gear and 35,000 chum salmon harvested by drift gillnet gear in the traditional fishery and 60,000 chum salmon harvested in the THA. For further information and updates on SSRAA contributions and updates visit visit the SSRAA website.

Nakat Inlet THA

The forecasted return of Nakat Inlet Terminal Harvest Area (THA) 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 Nakat Inlet harvest through statistical week 31 is approximately 190,000 chum salmon, or 73% of the summer forecast. This total includes 75,000 chum salmon harvested by drift gillnet gear and 25,000 chum salmon harvested by purse seine gear in the traditional fishery and 90,000 chum salmon harvested in the THA.  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 Terminal Harvest Area (THA) 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 Neets Bay harvest of chum salmon through statistical week 31 is approximately 477,000 salmon, or 38% of the summer forecast. This total includes 157,000 chum salmon harvested by purse seine gear and 35,000 chum salmon harvested by drift gillnet gear in the traditional fishery and 132,000 chum salmon harvested by purse seine and 4,000 chum salmon harvested by drift gillnet gear in the THA. An additional 250,000 have been harvested for cost recovery and 50,000 reserved for broodstock inside the THA. The harvest of King salmon in the Neets Bay THA through statistical week 31 is 1,600 salmon by drift gillnet gear and 3,000 salmon by purse seine gear. For further information and updates on SSRAA contributions and updates visit the SSRAA website.