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Salmon Fishery Update
Southeast Alaska & Yakutat Commercial Fisheries

Updated Friday, September 16, 2016

Troll Fishery

Regional power troll coho salmon catch rates averaged 67 fish per day last week, with the highest catch rates in the Southern Outside and Northern Outside areas. Catch rates have decreased this week, with a mid-week catch per day average of 56 fish for the region as a whole. The seasonal average weight for coho is 6.5 pounds, but the current week average of 7.9 pounds is more than a pound above the 2015 and 5-year averages, and 0.5 pounds above the 10-year average. The average price is currently $1.80 per pound and the cumulative catch since July 1 is just over 1.3 million fish. In a news release issued September 16, the department announced the summer troll season would be extended through September 30. The extension is being implemented based on projections by the department that escapement goals will be met after considering harvest and effort. Regional catch rates this week are slightly above, while exploitation rates are well-below average.

The second Chinook salmon retention period closed on September 3, when the department estimated that the harvest target of 73,300 Chinook salmon had been reached.  Fish tickets received to date indicate 659 permits made 2,200 landings, with an average weight of 12.3 pounds, and an average price of $5.44 per pound, the highest for this time period since 2008. Final Chinook harvest estimates will not be available until later this month, though the fishery is on track to come in within 2% of the harvest target.

Trollers are also targeting fall chum salmon returning to the Neets Bay hatchery in West Behm Canal.  A recent report indicated approximately 10 vessels fished the area last week, with an average catch of 119 chum salmon per landing and an average weight of 7.7 pounds.  Fish tickets received to date indicate a harvest of approximately 120,000 chum salmon since early July.

In 2016, a total of 32 troll permit holders harvested 19,000 chum salmon while targeting fish returning to the Medvejie hatchery and Deep Inlet Terminal Harvest Area (THA) in the Sitka Sound area. The average weight for Sitka Sound chum was 7.4 pounds, with an average price of $0.59 per pound.

The 2016–2017 winter troll fishery will open according to regulation at 12:01 a.m., October 11, 2016. The 2016–2017 Winter Troll Fishery Management Plan will be available in all ADF&G area offices and on the troll fishery website by the week of Oct 2.

The 2016 Summer Troll Management Plans can be found on the troll website. Inseason catch and effort data for summer is available on the Summer Troll Webpage.

Purse Seine Fishery

Last update for the season, August 26, 2016.

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, September 18, 2016. The effort level of 30 vessels was well above the 10-year average of 17 vessels. This fishery is below average for coho and well above average chum salmon. The coho salmon harvest was 5,000 fish, below the 10-year average of 5,800 fish. The chum salmon harvest was 10,000, which is well above the 10-year average of 1,800. The Tree Point drift gillnet fishery is now in fall management and is based on the strength of returning wild stock coho and fall chum salmon. With above average effort and harvest of chum salmon, Tree Point will open for four days in statistical week 40, beginning at 12:01 p.m., Sunday, September 25, 2016. Statistical week 40 will be the last week for the Tree Point drift gillnet fishery. For additional information concerning this fishery, see the 2016 Southeast Alaska Drift Gillnet Fishery Management Plan (PDF 486 kB) which is also  available at area offices or on the Alaska Department of Fish and Game website.

Stikine and Prince of Wales/Districts 6 and 8

Coho salmon harvest consists of both wild and hatchery fish with a management emphasis based on wild coho salmon abundance this time of year. Both districts opened for 72 hours beginning on Sunday, September 18 in stat week 39. The number of participants was well above the recent 10-year average for the week, as many boats continued to fish due to the very good harvest the prior week. The harvest of coho salmon throughout both districts dropped from the prior week but was still good for the time of year. The historical peak for wild coho salmon stocks returning to systems in Districts 6 and 8 occurs during the first half of September with the hatchery component peaking during the second half of the month. Harvest rates have been consistently below average this season. However, with the substantial increase in harvest the prior two weeks and the hatchery contribution near average, there appears to be a later and better than average pulse of wild coho salmon in the area. Taking this into consideration in conjunction with anticipated lower harvest levels in Districts 6 and 8, both districts will open for a 72-hour period beginning Sunday, September 25 for stat week 40.

The last inseason Stikine River sockeye run size estimate is 242,000 fish, above the preseason forecast of 223,000 and well above the recent 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 recent 10-year average of 30,000 fish.

Taku-Snettisham/Section 11-B

Around fifteen boats soaked their nets in the waters of District 11 on the first day of the fishery with about half that number participating on the second day and only a single hardy soul staying for the third day with some severe marine weather forecasted to develop during the fourth day. Perhaps individual skippers throughout the opening were convinced a closure had been announced as no one was fishing in their immediate vicinity. Or, more likely, the allure of being off the water after a long season was more powerful than harvesting a few more fish. Coho salmon catch rates and frequency of warm and snuggly daydreams were above average for the small fleet.

The current inseason Taku River coho salmon run size is estimated at nearly 69,000 fish which projects out to a total inriver run size of 84,000 fish based on historical run timing. The run size projections have stayed very consistent during the coho salmon management period, and the U.S. obligation to pass 75,000 fish into the Taku River remains on track. Coho salmon average size remains large at eleven pounds. Fall chum salmon harvests seemed to have picked up this week, but are still well below average for the season.

District 11 will have another four-day opening next week starting on September 25. This could very well be the last gillnet opening of the season in the district…or perhaps the region.

Lynn Canal/District 15

The Lynn Canal (District 15) drift gillnet fishery in Section 15-A and 15-C will be open for three days this week. The fishing period will begin on Sunday, September 25th. The fishery is being managed for chum and coho salmon. Catches of chum salmon on the fish wheels are near average, though the cumulative coho salmon catch continues to be below average. The Chilkoot River weir was removed on September 9th, and the final sockeye salmon to Chilkoot Lake was 86,700 fish, just above the upper end of the goal range. As of September 22nd the cumulative sonar count of sockeye salmon at Chilkat Lake was 67,219 fish and projections for the final escapement are within the goal range of 70,000 to 150,000 fish.  The gillnet fishery Section 15-A will open for three days with Lutak Inlet closed north of the Tanani Point line and Chilkat Inlet closed north of the latitude of the north end of Kochu Island.  All of Section 15-C will open for three days.

The harvest for the District 15 opening in statistical week 39 (September 18-September 24) was estimated to be 600 chum salmon, 10 sockeye salmon,  and 600 coho salmon.  The harvest of chum salmon was about 6% the proceeding 10-year average harvest. The coho salmon harvest was about 8% above the average. An estimated 40 boats participated in the fishery, below the average of 56 boats at this time of year. Many boat stopped fishing after the first few hours of the opening due to the presence of thick algae which severely limited net efficiency. At this time, the District 15 sockeye salmon harvest is estimated to be about 186,000 fish, well above the recent 10-year average harvest of 135,000 sockeye salmon, and close to the long term (1980-2015) average of 192,000 fish.

Yakutat Area Set Gillnet Fishery

There were only five Yakutat fisheries fished this week and fishing effort dropped due to inclement weather. Yakutat Bay, Alsek, Tsiu, and Akwe rivers were fished by fewer than three permits and harvest data is confidential. In the Situk-Ahrnklin Inlet, 63 permits harvested approximately15,000 coho salmon All other fisheries in Yakutat, with the exception of the Italio River systems, were open this week, but not fished. The Italio River systems may open by emergency order when escapement counts have been observed. The Yakutat Set Net Fishery will most likely remain open through the first week October. 

The Biological Escapement Goal (BEG) for sockeye and pink salmon was obtained in the Situk River, while the BEG for Chinook salmon was not.  The BEG for Chinook salmon was obtained at the Klukshu River weir in Canada. It is unknown at this time whether the Klukshu River sockeye salmon BEG was achieved. The coho salmon BEGs has been attained in the Tsiu and Situk rivers. While it is possible that coho BEGs have been obtained in other systems in the Yakutat Area, inclement weather and flood events have prevented the actual observation of escapement levels.

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, purse seine, and troll gear concurrently and will remain open to all three gear groups till the Anita Bay THA closes by regulation on 12:00 noon November 10, 2016. For further information and updates on Southern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association (SSRAA) contributions and updates visit their website at SSRAA website. The estimated harvest to date is 3,500 Chinook, 132,000 chum and 2,200 coho salmon.

Boat Harbor THA

The Boat Harbor Terminal Harvest Area is no longer managed as a separate harvest area, instead opening and closing in conjunction with the rest Section 15-C.

Deep Inlet THA

Forecast returns for the Deep Inlet Terminal Harvest Area (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. . Harvest for the week of September 18, is confidential in both the seine and gillnet fisheries.  To date 1,626,000 chum salmon have been harvested in the Deep Inlet THA net fisheries, including 405,000 fish harvested for cost recovery and 124,000 fish for broodstock. Total return of chum salmon to the Deep Inlet THA, for this date, is 91% of forecast.

Hidden Falls THA

Forecast returns for Hidden Falls Terminal Harvest Area (THA) HA includes 1,433,000 chum salmon, 5,400 Chinook salmon, and 194,000 coho salmon.  The Hidden Falls Hatchery requires 202,000 chum salmon for broodstock. To date 17,000 chum salmon have been harvested in the common property seine fishery, 202,000 chum salmon have been taken for broodstock and 34,000 have been harvested for cost recovery. Total return of chum salmon to the Hidden Falls THA, for this date, is 18% of forecast.

Kendrick Bay THA

The forecasted return for the Kendrick Bay Terminal Harvest Area (THA) summer chum salmon is 868,000. The Kendrick Bay THA opened to the harvest of salmon by purse seine gear on Wednesday, June 15, 2016. The harvest of Kendrick Bay chum salmon through statistical week 37 is approximately 804,000 salmon, or 93% of the forecasted return. This total includes 662,000 chum salmon harvested by purse seine gear and 45,000 chum salmon harvested by drift gillnet gear in the traditional fishery and a THA harvest of 97,100 chum salmon by the purse seine fleet. For further information and updates on Southern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association (SSRAA) contributions and updates please visit the SSRAA website.

Nakat Inlet THA

The forecasted return of Nakat Inlet Terminal Harvest Area (THA) summer chum salmon is 260,000 fish and for fall chum salmon is 82,800 fish. 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 37 is approximately 221,000 chum salmon, or 85% of the summer forecast. This total includes 83,000 chum salmon harvested by drift gillnet gear and 34,000 chum salmon harvested by purse seine gear in the traditional fishery and a THA harvest of 104,000 summer chum salmon by the drift gillnet fleet. The harvest of fall chum salmon to date is 58,000 chums in the common property drift gillnet fisheries. For further information and updates on Southern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association (SSRAA) contributions and updates please visit the SSRAA website.

Neets Bay THA

The Neets Bay Terminal Harvest Area (THA) forecasted return for summer chum salmon is 1,237,000 fish, for fall chum salmon is 250,000 fish, for Chinook salmon is 17,500 fish, and for coho salmon is 254,800 fish. The Neets Bay THA opened to the harvest of salmon by drift gillnet and purse seine on Sunday, May 1, 2016. The harvest of Neets Bay summer chum salmon through statistical week 37 is approximately 1,258,000 fish or 102% of the summer forecast. This total includes 260,000 chum salmon harvested by purse seine gear, 58,000 chum salmon harvested by drift gillnet gear and 53,000 chum salmon harvested by Troll gear in the traditional fishery and 134,000 chum salmon harvested by purse seine, 4,300 chum salmon harvested by drift gillnet gear and 53,000 chum salmon harvested by troll gear in the THA. An additional 515,000 summer chum salmon have been harvested for cost recovery and 181,000 reserved for broodstock inside the THA. The harvest of Neets Bay Chinook salmon through statistical week 37 is 13,700 salmon or 51% of the forecast. This includes 3,200 Chinook salmon by drift gillnet gear, 3,500 by purse seine gear and 2,100 by troll gear in the traditional fisheries. All three gear groups harvested 4,700 Chinook salmon in the THA. The harvest of Neets Bay Coho salmon through statistical week 37 is 15,800 fish or 6% of the forecast. The majority of these have been harvested by the troll fishery in the traditional areas. For further information and updates on Southern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association (SSRAA) contributions and updates please visit the SSRAA website.