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Salmon Fishery Update
Southeast Alaska & Yakutat Commercial Fisheries
Updated Thursday, July 25, 2014
Trollers have harvested approximately 338,000 coho salmon since the summer fishery began on July 1. Regionwide catch rates have been average to above average all summer, with an average catch/boat/day of 137 for the current week. The highest catch rates occurred in the Central Outside, followed by the Northern Outside area. Coho average weights have remained relatively stable throughout the summer fishery, averaging 5.8 lbs, though recent reports indicate larger fish being harvested over the past few days. The average price for coho salmon is currently $1.24/lb, with an average summer price of $1.28/lb.
The first Chinook retention period of the summer closed by emergency order on July 7, but final harvest statistics will not be available until later this month. Preliminary totals indicate a harvest of approximately 198,695 fish by 820 permits, an average weight of 11.6 lbs and average price of $3.55/lb. Catch rates remained high throughout the duration of the fishery. Aerial vessel count surveys indicated effort appeared to be higher than that last July and ticket data indicates that approximately 100 additional permits fished. Once the department determines the number of treaty Chinook salmon remaining on the troll allocation, information on a second opening will be announced by news release in early August, along with information on a coho closure.
A 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 62,000 chum since early July. Effort has declined during the current week, with 50-60 trollers fishing in the area on July 21. Trollers have an average chum catch/landing of 100-150 fish, at an average weight of just over 11 pounds and average price of $0.64.
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 sixth week. During statistical week 30, fishing occurred on July 20 and there is a mid-week seine opening on July 24.
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. 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, July 24 are around 2.2 million pink and 1.1 million chum salmon.
Seine effort during the July 20 period included 63 boats in District 4, 61 in District 1, 33 in District 7, and 17 in District 2 and also in Section 13-B. Sixteen boats were present at Deep Inlet terminal hatchery area and eight boats were reported at the Point Augusta index fishery. The largest harvests occurred in District 4 with 523,000 salmon harvested, District 1 with 411,000, District 2 with 160,000, and District 7 with 158,000 salmon harvested. Pink salmon harvest per boat was highest in Districts 2 and 4 with 7,300 fish, District 1 with 6,200 fish, Point Augusta with 5,100 fish, Section 13-B with 4,500 fish, and District 7 with 4,200 fish per boat. Chum salmon harvest per boat was highest in District 2 with 1,800 and in District 7 with 500 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 four days starting at 12:01 p.m., Sunday, July 20, 2014. The effort level was above average with 48 vessels participating. The harvest was below average for sockeye and coho salmon, above average for pink salmon, and average for chum salmon. Total estimate for the weekly harvest is 30 Chinook, 4,000 sockeye, 1,000 coho, 70,000 pink, and 30,000 chum salmon. The current Hugh Smith sockeye weir count of 2,895 sockeye projects out to a final escapement of 8,900, which is above the minimum escapement goal of 8,000. Beginning on July 27, the Tree Point drift gillnet fishery be managed according to the District One pink salmon management plan (5AAC 33.360). The District 1 purse seine fishery will get at least three days in statistical week 31, so the Tree Point gillnet fishery will be open for five days, beginning at 12:01 p.m., Sunday, July 27, 2014.
The following information about the Nakat Inlet, Neets Bay, and Kendrick Bay terminal harvest areas (THA) is estimated through Statistical Week 29. For further information and updates on SSRAA contributions and updates visit their website at http://www.ssraa.org/
Prince of Wales and Stikine/Districts 6 and 8
The District 6 and 8 drift gillnet fishery opened for an initial 72-hour period on Sunday, July 20. On the grounds surveys of the gillnet fleet indicated near average catch rates in both districts with below average effort and sockeye harvest in District 8. A 48-hour mid-week opening occurred in District 8 to harvest surplus Stikine River sockeye salmon. The most recent Stikine River sockeye salmon inseason abundance estimate is 250,000 fish, well above the 152,000 fish forecast. The last inseason assessment for Stikine River king salmon made on June 20 was for a terminal run size of 26,000 fish. Both districts will open for an initial 72 hours beginning Sunday, July 27.
The District 11 salmon drift gillnet fishery was open for three days this week. 80 gillnetters participated, with half the boats still fishing at the closure. Sockeye catch rates were near average, chum catch rates were below average, and coho catch rates were above average. Pink catch rates continue to be very poor.
In-river indicators from the Canyon Island fish wheels and the Canadian in-river fishery were weak in the aftermath of last week’s Tulsequah glacial outburst flood, but have significantly improved in recent days. The Taku River sockeye run projection declined some from the previous week, but continues to project an escapement within the goal range.
Thermal-marked otolith reads indicate enhanced Snettisham sockeye are contributing significantly to the catch. Aerial surveys of Speel and Crescent Lakes this week indicate that wild Port Snettisham sockeye have begun to arrive at their lakes. When escapement to these systems is sufficient, opportunity to target enhanced fish inside Port Snettisham may become available.
Section 11-B will again open for three days, with the six-inch minimum mesh restriction south of Circle Point in place to protect wild Port Snettisham sockeye.
Lynn Canal/District 15
The week 30, 2014 Lynn Canal (District 15) commercial drift gillnet salmon fishery opened for three days beginning Sunday, July 13 in Sections 15-A and 15-C. Time and area adjustments to the District 15 commercial salmon drift gillnet fishery is designed to harvest Chilkat Lake and Chilkoot Lake sockeye salmon while minimizing harvest of Chilkat River Chinook salmon as well as harvesting expected large returns of hatchery chum salmon in southern 15-C. An estimated 64,000 chum salmon and 26,000 sockeye salmon were harvested this week. Harvests of chum salmon were below average and above average for sockeye salmon. A total of over 125 boats participated in the District this week. Harvest of pink salmon was very small and below average for this time while harvests of Chinook and coho salmon were near average.
Sockeye salmon escapement to Chilkat Lake is currently above average for this time. The cumulative DIDSON count of over 25,000 sockeye is 1.25 times the previous ten year average and projects a final escapement within the goal range. Chilkoot weir counts are currently above the ten year average and much better than expected. The current weir count of over 50,000 fish projects a final escapement near the upper end of the escapement goal range.
With no concerns over Chilkat and Chilkoot Lake sockeye salmon, 3 days of time will be granted with Section 15-A opening south of the latitude of Seduction Point. The northern line in western Section 15-A move northward to the latitude of the northernmost tip of Kochu Island. The eastern side of Section 15-A will open south of the Tanini Point to Taiya Point line to harvest Chilkoot Lake sockeye salmon. Section 15-C will be open south of Point Bridget on the western shoreline and south of Danger Point on the eastern shoreline. Section 15-B (Berners Bay) and the St. Mary’s shoreline will remain closed until further notice. The Boat Harbor Terminal Harvest area is will open until further notice.
Yakutat Area Setnet Fishery
In the Alsek River, ten permits harvested 6,900 sockeye salmon. Sockeye salmon catch per unit effort was more than double the recent average and fishing time was extended to three days. The total sockeye salmon harvest of approximately 29,000 sockeye salmon for the Alsek River is more than double the recent average for the river. In Yakutat Bay, 25 permits harvested 1,200 sockeye salmon. In the Situk-Ahrnklin Inlet, 41 permits harvested 6,300 sockeye salmon. The East, Akwe, and Dangerous rivers were each fished by three permits, and the sockeye salmon harvest for those three systems contributed small numbers of fish to the overall harvest. The Manby Shore outside waters were fished by fewer than three permits, and harvest information for those waters remains confidential. All Yakutat Area fisheries that open by regulation are now open for the season with the exception of the Italio River systems. The Italio River systems will open by emergency order when escapement counts have been observed.
Approximately 79,000 sockeye and 450 large Chinook salmon have passed through the Situk River weir. The biological escapement goal (BEG) has been attained for both species, with 79,000 fish being over the top of the range for sockeye salmon, while 450 fish is the very bottom of the range for Chinook salmon. The Canadian weir on the Klukshu River, a tributary of the Alsek River, is now operational and both sockeye and Chinook salmon have just started to show at that weir. Early counts for both species are slightly above average for this time of year. The preseason projection for Alsek River Chinook and sockeye salmon indicates that the BEG for both species will be attained. The coho salmon return to Yakutat this year is expected to be average to slightly above average.
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. Currently 42,000 chum salmon have been harvested in the Nakat Inlet THA.
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. Approximately 6,100 Chinook salmon and 3,300 chum salmon have been harvested by purse seine and 3,200 Chinook salmon and 900 chum salmon have been harvested by gillnet.
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. Currently, 52,000 chum salmon have been harvested in the Kendrick 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 6,800 king salmon and 6,500 chum salmon. Beginning June 13, the Anita Bay THA opened on a rotational schedule for purse seine/drift gillnet fisheries.
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. This season NSRAA does not anticipate closing the Deep Inlet rotational fishery for cost recovery harvest. On July 20, 16 seiners harvested approximately 30 Chinook salmon and 7,600 chum salmon. During the period July 21-23, nineteen gillnetters harvested approximately 80 Chinook salmon and 20,000 chum salmon. To date, gillnetters have harvested a total of 3,180 Chinook salmon and 162,000 chum salmon, and seiners have harvested 1,100 Chinook salmon and 331,000 chum salmon.
Hidden Falls THA
No cost recovery will occur at Hidden Falls this season. 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. Hidden Falls THA closed on June 29 because of broodstock concerns and will reopen to common property harvest on July 24. NSRAA needs 180,000 chum salmon for broodstock and to date 130,000 fish have been passed over the barrier net into the broodstock containment area. The total chum salmon harvest for the season is 220,000.