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Salmon Fishery Update
Southeast Alaska & Yakutat Commercial Fisheries

Updated Friday, June 26, 2015

Troll Fishery
A total of 41 spring troll and terminal harvest areas have been opened to trolling since April 16. Through June 25 (week 26), approximately 532 permit holders have made 3,069 landings. This is an increase of 6 permits from 2014, and right at the 5-year average of 532.

Purse Seine Fishery
The first purse seine opening was on Sunday, June 21 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 21, at Hidden Falls, Tenakee Inlet, and Point Augusta.  Forty-two seine boats were present at the Hidden Falls Terminal Harvest Area harvesting 25,000 pink and 12,500 chum salmon. Twenty-nine boats were present at the spring Kendrick Bay fishery harvesting 19,000 chum, 1,300 pink, 1,200 coho, and 600 sockeye salmon. Fifteen boats were reported at the Point Augusta index fishery harvesting 16,000 pink and 3,000 chum salmon. The Tenakee Inlet harvest was confidential.

The first openings in District 10, Section 7-A, and Section 13-C will occur Sunday, June 28. Initial openings in Districts 1 and 4 can be expected on Sunday, July 5.

The ADF&G pink salmon harvest forecast is 58 million fish, with an 80% confidence interval range of 37–79 million. This is above the recent 10-year average harvest of 38.4 million fish.  Based primarily on combined hatchery chum salmon forecasts, total returns of 9.3 million fish are expected.

During 2013, the pink salmon parent year, the common property purse seine harvest of 88.8 million pink salmon was a record harvest for the period 1960–2013 and well above the 10-year average (2003–2012) of 34.5 million. Escapements in 2013 were within the BEG range in the Northern Southeast Inside Sub-region and above the BEG range in the Southern Southeast and Northern Southeast Outside Sub-regions. Management targets were met or exceeded in all 14 districts and only one stock group in the region, Freshwater Bay in District 12, fell below the management target range. The department is prepared to provide additional fishing opportunity when appropriate to harvest surplus returns.

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 four days starting at 12:01 p.m., Sunday, June 21, 2015. The effort level of 40 was below the 10-year average of 51 vessels. The total harvest was below average for all species except coho salmon. Total estimate for weekly harvest is 3,200 sockeye, 1,000 coho, 2,500 pink, and 8,000 chum salmon. Current Nass River return estimates for Sockeye are strong, however the water levels in the Nass are low. The poor harvest rate in Alaska and Canadian Area 3 fisheries indicate the estimate, based on Nass River fish wheels may be high. With low effort in the Tree Point fishery we will continue with a four day opening beginning at 12:01 p.m., Sunday, June 28, 2015.

The following information about the Nakat Inlet, Neets Bay, and Kendrick Bay terminal harvest areas (THA) is estimated through Statistical Week 20. For further information and updates on SSRAA contributions and updates visit the SSRAA website.

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 Sunday, June 21. On the grounds surveys indicated a very low effort and near average sockeye salmon catch rates in both districts. Considering these factors, both districts were extended for 24 hours. The preseason forecast for Stikine River sockeye salmon is 171,200 fish, just below the previous 10-year average. The first Stikine River sockeye salmon inseason abundance estimate is expected in early July. Sockeye salmon runs to local systems are expected to be average.  Both districts will open for an initial 96 hours beginning Sunday, June 28.

Taku-Snettisham/Section 11-B
The District 11 drift gillnet fishery opened for three days of fishing at noon on Sunday, June 21.  This was the first three-day inaugural opening of the season since 2010 and was due to more robust Taku River Chinook salmon abundance and an above-average Taku River sockeye salmon run forecast.  All of Section 11-B was open, excluding Port Snettisham, with no mesh restrictions in place.

Approximately 60 boats participated in this week's fishery which was above the recent ten-year average.  More than one-third of this boat total showed up on the second day of the fishery after moving down from the District 15 gillnet fishery to the north.  Chum salmon catch rates were driving this influx of boats and word of the 600+ fish per boat average on the first day spread fast.  Total chum salmon harvest for the week will likely set a new District 11 record with an estimated 80,000 fish harvested.  Coho and pink salmon catch rates were also well above average for the week and sockeye salmon catch rates were well below average. 

Chum and sockeye salmon were on the small side while pink salmon were larger than average.  Most fishermen were lamenting the prices they were seeing on fish tickets which took a downturn across all species from last season.  Fortunately, the early chum salmon abundance greatly increased the poundage for most.

The first inseason Taku River sockeye salmon terminal run estimate was produced earlier this week and resulted in an escapement projection well below the bottom of the escapement goal range.  This first estimate was calculated with minimal data and expectations are for a significant increase next week.  Both Canyon Island fish wheel and Canadian commercial gillnet inriver sockeye salmon catches are near the recent ten-year average.  

With a large gillnet fleet positioned in the northern part of the region, very appealing chum salmon catch rates from this week, and a none-too-solid sign of sockeye abundance, District 11 will start with two days of fishing at noon on Sunday, June 28.   

Lynn Canal/District 15
Sockeye escapements to date for Chilkoot and Chilkat River are below average at this time and effort levels are well above average in the commercial fishery. A total of 145 boats fished Lynn Canal in SW 26. Harvests included 2,800 sockeye, 300 coho, 26,500 pink and 73,000 chum salmon. The sockeye and chum salmon harvest was near the recent ten-year average and the coho and pink salmon harvest was well above average. The pink salmon harvest was the highest ever for this week in Lynn Canal. Chilkat Inlet will remain closed to all fisheries through July 15 to conserve Chilkat River Chinook salmon.

For week 27, the eastern side of Section 15-A will open for two days south and east of the latitude of the southernmost tip of Talsani Island to a point two nautical miles from the eastern shoreline of Sherman Rock to harvest pink and sockeye salmon while reducing the harvest rate on Chinook salmon. Section 15-C management will focus on harvesting hatchery chum salmon while providing escapement within goal ranges for wild northbound salmon stocks. This area will again open for two days south of the latitude of Point Bridget on the eastern shoreline and south of the latitude of Danger Point on the western shore. The inside area of the Boat Harbor Terminal Harvest Area (BHTHA) will remain open until further notice. The remainder of the BHTHA will open for two days south of the latitude of Danger Point. The entire area of the BHTHA will be open until further notice beginning in SW 28.

Yakutat Area Set Gillnet Fishery
In the Alsek River, 13 permits harvested 2,300 sockeye and 70 Chinook salmon.  The fishing period was extended to two days. In Yakutat Bay, 15 permits harvested 1,350 sockeye and 50 Chinook salmon. The Dangerous River was open this week, but was not fished. The Situk-Ahrnklin Inlet fishery opened for the season on Sunday, June 21 where 44 permits harvested 5,000 sockeye salmon. The Manby Shore fishery also opened on Sunday, and three permits harvested almost 600 sockeye. The remainder of the Yakutat District will open next week on the fourth Sunday in June. The East River and the Italio River systems will open by emergency order when escapement counts have been observed.

Sockeye salmon returns to the Yakutat Area in 2015 are expected to be average to above average. The 2015 preseason projection of a total return of 619 Chinook salmon to the Situk River is indicative of a below average return, and subsistence, sport, and commercial fisheries will be closed for Situk River Chinook salmon. These fisheries will reopen when Situk weir counts indicate the BEG will be attained. The preseason projection for Alsek River Chinook salmon indicates that the BEG for them will be attained.  The coho salmon return this year is also expected to be average to 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.

 The following information about the Nakat Inlet, Neets Bay, and Kendrick Bay terminal harvest areas (THA) is estimated through Statistical Week 20. 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 220,000 and for fall chum salmon is 75,000. Nakat Inlet opened to the harvest of salmon by drift gillnet and troll gear on Monday, June 1, 2015. The current harvest in Nakat Inlet is confidential. 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 1,180,000, for fall chum salmon is 210,000, for Chinook salmon is 21,500, and for coho salmon is 340,000. Neets Bay opened to the harvest of salmon by drift gillnet and purse seine on Friday, May 1, 2015 and is currently open on a rotation between drift gillnet and purse seine. The current harvest in Neets Bay is confidential. For further information and updates on SSRAA contributions and updates visit the SSRAA website.

Kendrick Bay THA
The forecasted return for Kendrick Bay summer chum salmon is 745,000. Kendrick Bay opened to the harvest of salmon by purse seine gear on Monday, June 15, 2014. The current harvest in Kendrick Bay is confidential. For further information and updates on SSRAA contributions and updates visit the SSRAA website.

Anita Bay THA
The 2015 Anita Bay THA forecast includes 370,000 summer chum and 47,000 coho salmon. The estimated harvest to date is 100 chum salmon.

Deep Inlet THA
The Deep Inlet THA rotational fisheries began May 31, with seine openings on Sunday and Wednesday, and gillnet openings on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday; harvest in both fisheries is confidential.  Forecast returns for Deep Inlet THA and Medvejie Hatchery includes 1,336,000 chum salmon, 27,500 king salmon, and 18,000 coho salmon.  This season NSRAA does not anticipate closing the Deep Inlet rotational fishery for cost recovery harvest. On June 21, 13 seiners harvested approximately 12,700 chum salmon.  Gillnet harvest is confidential for the two day opening on June 22-23. To date, gillnetters have harvested a total of 15,500 chum salmon, and seiners have harvested 22,600 chum salmon.

Hidden Falls THA
No cost recovery will occur at Hidden Falls this season. The first common property purse seine opening in the Hidden Falls THA is scheduled for June 21 with 15-hour openings expected to occur Sundays and Thursdays of each week during the early season.  Forecast returns for Hidden Falls THA includes 1,031,000 chum salmon, 5,400 king salmon, and 187,000 coho salmon.  On June 21, 42 seiners harvested approximately 12,500 chum salmon.