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Salmon Fishery Update
Southeast Alaska & Yakutat Commercial Fisheries

Updated Thursday, August 15, 2014

Troll Fishery
After a 4-day coho closure, the general summer troll fishery reopened on August 14, as did the second Chinook salmon retention period. The Chinook opening will be for 3 days, from 12:01 a.m., August 14 through 11:59 p.m., August 16, and will target an estimated 36,051 fish. 

Regional power troll coho catch rates for last week were 109/day, with the highest catch rates in the Southern Inside and Central Outside areas. Coho average weights have remained relatively stable throughout the summer fishery, averaging 5.8 lbs, with a week 32 average of 5.9 lbs.  The average price is currently $1.39/lb with an average summer price of $1.35/lb.  The cumulative coho harvest since July 1 is just over 1.07 million, with a peak weekly harvest of 272,000 during the week of July 20-26.

A small portion of the troll fleet has been targeting chum salmon returning to the Neets Bay hatchery in West Behm Canal. A recent report indicates a harvest of approximately 128,000 chum since early July. Effort has declined during the current week, with 8-10 trollers fishing in the area on August 11. Trollers have an average chum catch/landing of 200-250 fish, at an average weight of between 7-8 lbs and average price of $0.69/lb.

In a news release issued August 14, it was announced that retention of troll caught chum salmon in a portion of Sitka Sound and Eastern Channel will close effective 12:01 a.m., August 17.  It was also announced on August 14 that the Deep Inlet Terminal Harvest Area will close to all common property commercial fisheries effective 8:00 p.m., Saturday, August 16.  Both of these closures will remain in effect until further notice.

The 2014 Summer Troll Management Plans can be found on the Southeast troll website. Inseason catch and effort data for summer is available on the same site.

Purse Seine Fishery
The SE Alaska purse seine fishery began the 2014 season in traditional areas on Sunday, June 15 and is now in its ninth week. During statistical week 33, fishing occurred on August 12–13 and there is another period scheduled to begin on August 16.

The department has forecast a pink salmon harvest of 22 million fish for the season, below the recent 10-year average harvest of 34.5 million fish. The current inseason projection indicates a harvest of around 30 million pink salmon. Based primarily on combined hatchery chum salmon forecasts, total returns of 9.9 million fish are expected. Current cumulative purse seine harvest estimates compiled Thursday, August 14 are around 23.0 million pink and 2.4 million chum salmon.

Seine effort during the August 12–13 period included 80 boats in District 4, 45 in District 1, 32 in District 3, and 20 in District 2. The largest harvests occurred in District 4 with 1.4 million salmon harvested, District 1 with 870,000, District 3 with 520,000, District 2 with 360,000, and District 6 with 218,000 salmon harvested. Pink salmon harvest per boat was highest in District 1 with 19,000 fish, District 2 with 17,500 fish, District 3 and 4 with 16,000 fish, Section 9-B with 16,000 fish, and Section 13-A with 15,000 fish per boat. Chum salmon harvest per boat was highest in Section 13-B/Deep Inlet with 1,750 fish and Section 9-B with 700 fish per boat.

Drift Gillnet Fishery
Traditional 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 five days starting at 12:01 p.m., Sunday, August 10, 2014. The effort level was below average with 25 vessels participating.  The harvest was average for sockeye and coho and above average for pink salmon. Total harvest estimate for the week is 5 Chinook, 3,000 sockeye, 2,600 coho, 75,000 pink, and 5,000 chum salmon.  Beginning on July 20, the Tree Point drift gillnet fishery has been managed according to the District One pink salmon management plan (5AAC 33.360).  The District 1 purse seine fishery will get at least three fishing days in statistical week 33, so the Tree Point gillnet fishery will be open for five days, beginning at 12:01 p.m., Sunday, August 17, 2014.

Prince of Wales and Stikine/Districts 6 and 8
Management focus of the District 6 and 8 gillnet fishery for this week's opener beginning August 10 was based on pink salmon abundance. Both districts opened for 96 hours with a reported decrease in participants. Pink salmon catches in District 6 continue to be well above average, while the catches in District 8 continue to be below average. Both districts will open for 96 hours beginning Sunday, August 17. Observations of pink salmon escapements indicate escapements vary greatly throughout the Districts 6 and 8 gillnet area. Pink salmon escapement is generally very good in the southern portions and mediocre to date in the northern and eastern areas. Focus for the Districts 6 and 8 gillnet fisheries will transition from pink salmon abundance to wild coho salmon abundance in late August or early September. 

The most recent Stikine River sockeye salmon inseason abundance estimate is 227,000 fish, well above the 152,000 fish preseason forecast. The last inseason assessment for Stikine River king salmon made on June 20 was for a terminal run size of 26,000 fish.

Taku-Snettisham/Section 11-B
The District 11 opening this week began with a significant uptick in effort from previous weeks.  Opening the entrance of Port Snettisham, to increase opportunity for targeting the enhanced sockeye return, resulted in 85 boats motoring into the district with the hopes of a Speel Arm SHA opportunity on the minds of most.  With not yet half of the minimum escapement goal of wild sockeye through the Speel Lake weir and high water delaying the passage of fish, it soon became obvious that an SHA opening was not likely and effort decreased substantially in the latter portion of the opening.  Even with the increased effort, the total number of boats fishing this week was only slightly higher than a recent ten-year average.

Overall, sockeye and coho catch rates were near average.  The vast majority of effort was targeting enhanced Port Snettisham fish and boats in and near Taku Inlet had a lot of shoreline to choose from.  Coho catch rates for those boats fishing outside of Port Snettisham were above average and combined with strong inriver indicators in the fishwheels and Canadian fishery, the Taku River coho run appears to be off to a good start.  District 11 management will transition into coho management next week, although most of the fleet will likely be targeting enhanced sockeye.

District 11 will open for three days next week with the same lines as this week.  As usual, close attention will be paid to Speel Lake sockeye escapement and if significant passage of fish occurs into the lake, a Speel Arm SHA opening may be announced.  An opening would be announced on the grounds via VHF radio and would give at least six hours of notice to allow boats fishing in the district time to travel into the area.

Lynn Canal/District 15
The District 15 fishery was open for three days with the upper Chilkoot and Lutak inlets open for an additional two days. The fishing effort was above average, with 75 boat participating. Sockeye salmon harvests declined from the previous week, and were slightly below average. Pink and chum salmon harvests were also below average, while the coho salmon harvest came in a bit above average.  The harvest estimate for this week is 10 Chinook, 12,000 sockeye, 1,100 coho, 13,000 pink, and 3,400 chum salmon.

With just over 30,000 sockeye salmon counted through the Chilkat Lake weir, escapement is under average for this time but still projecting an escapement within the goal range. High water conditions and a flow reversal at the Chilkat Lake weir are affecting fish movement. The Chilkoot Lake weir counts are currently over 97,000 fish and well above the upper end of the escapement goal range. We are starting fall season management next week, with a focus on chum and coho salmon, but much of the fishing effort is expected to continue to focus on sockeye salmon.

Both Section 15-A and 15-C will open for two days this week, with an additional 3 days of fishing time in the upper Chilkoot and Lutak inlets. Section 15-A will open south of the terminus of the Chilkoot River on the east side, and the north line on the west side will now be the Glacier Point/Twin Coves line. All of section 15-C will open, except for an area on the west side closed to protect wild chum and pink salmon stocks.  The outside waters of the Boat Harbor Terminal Harvest Area will close with the rest of 15-C this week, but the inside of Boat Harbor itself will remain open until further notice.

Yakutat Area Setnet Fishery
All fisheries in the Yakutat Area have remained slow this week. With the exception of the East River, the sockeye salmon run is basically over, and coho salmon have just started to show in numbers.  Permits are also fighting very inclement weather, and effort has remained low. The Alsek and Dangerous rivers were fished by fewer than three permits, and harvest information for those systems remains confidential. The Akwe River and the Manby Shore inside and outside waters were open, but not fished this week. In Yakutat Bay, eight permits harvested fewer than 100 coho and 800 pink salmon. In the Situk-Ahrnklin Inlet, 30 permits harvested 2,000 coho and 1,500 pink salmon. The East River is still targeting sockeye salmon, but inclement weather and subsequent flooding has adversely affected fishing efficiency. Seven permits in the East River harvested fewer than 200 sockeye salmon. The Italio River systems may be opened by emergency order when coho salmon escapement counts have been observed.

Approximately 102,000 sockeye and 475 large Chinook salmon passed through the Situk River weir and the weir has been removed for the season. The BEG has been attained for both species, with 102,000 fish being over the top of the range for sockeye salmon, while 475 fish is just over the bottom of the range for Chinook salmon. The Canadian weir on the Klukshu River has recorded 782 Chinook and 1,000 sockeye salmon through. The bottom end of the Chinook salmon BEG is 800 fish, and it is assumed that goal will be attained.  It remains too early to project the final weir count for sockeye salmon. The coho salmon return to Yakutat this year is expected to be average to slightly above average. Coho salmon escapement surveys will commence in the Yakutat Area when the weather improves.

Terminal Harvest Area 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. 

Nakat Inlet THA
The forecasted return of Nakat Inlet summer chum salmon is 280,000 and for fall chum salmon is 10,000. Nakat Inlet opened to the harvest of salmon by drift gillnet and troll gear on Sunday, June 1, 2014. The total estimated harvest is 173,000 chum salmon, or 62% of the forecast.  Harvest includes 68,000 gillnet-harvested chum salmon inside the Nakat Inlet THA, plus approximately 91,000 gillnet-harvested and 14,000 purse seine-harvested chum salmon in traditional common property fisheries.

Neets Bay THA
The Neets Bay forecasted return for summer chum salmon is 1,800,000, for fall chum salmon is 140,000, for Chinook salmon is 18,100, and for coho salmon is 296,000. Neets Bay opened to the harvest of salmon by all gear groups on Thursday, May 1, 2014. The estimated harvest of chum salmon inside the Neets Bay THA is 6,100 Chinook salmon and 3,300 chum salmon by purse seine and 3,200 Chinook salmon and 900 chum salmon harvested by gillnet.  In the traditional common property fisheries, the estimated harvest of Neets Bay summer chum salmon is approximately 161,000 seine-harvested chums, 53,000 gillnet-harvested chum salmon and 102,000 harvested by the troll fleet.  Cost recovery to date has harvested approximately 300,000 chum salmon with another 120,000 for broodstock needs.

Kendrick Bay THA
The forecasted return for Kendrick Bay summer chum salmon is 700,000. Kendrick Bay opened to the harvest of salmon by purse seine gear on Sunday, June 15, 2014. The total harvest is estimated at 393,000 chum salmon, or 56% of the forecast.  Of this harvest, approximately 100,000 have been harvested inside the Kendrick Bay THA and 277,000 have been harvested by seine and 16,000 by gillnet outside the THA in common property fisheries. 

Anita Bay THA
Anita Bay THA: In 2014, approximately 501,000 summer chum, 15,400 king, and 15,500 coho salmon are expected to return. The cumulative gillnet harvest to date is 7,000 king salmon and 40,000 chum salmon.

Deep Inlet THA
The Deep Inlet THA rotational fishing schedule for seine and gillnet began on June 1.  Forecast returns for the Deep Inlet THA and Medvejie Hatchery includes 1,170,000 chum salmon, 36,200 Chinook salmon, and 10,000 coho salmon.  Deep Inlet will close to all common property commercial fisheries beginning 8:00 p.m., Saturday, August 16 and will remain in effect until further notice.  This closure is to ensure NSRAA achieves their broodstock goals this season. To date seiners have harvested 355,000 chum salmon and gillnetters have harvested 197,000 chum salmon.  

Hidden Falls THA
Forecast returns for Hidden Falls THA includes 1,072,000 chum salmon, 6,100 king salmon, and 188,000 coho salmon.  The first common property purse seine opening occurred on June 15 and closed for the season on July 31.  The total common property chum salmon harvest for the season is approximately 250,000.  The total return to date is 426,000 chum salmon.

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