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Salmon Fishery Update
Southeast Alaska & Yakutat Commercial Fisheries

Updated Friday, July 19, 2019

Troll Fishery

The first Chinook salmon opening of the general summer troll season began on July 1 and was closed on short notice at 11:59 p.m., July 5. A total of approximately 58,130 Chinook salmon from 1,030 landings by 603 permits have been accounted for. The remaining annual troll treaty harvest limit of Chinook salmon will be harvested in a second opening following any closure of the coho salmon troll fishery, or no later than August 20 if a coho closure is not necessary. A news release announcing the length of a coho conservation closure, if needed, the harvest target, and the anticipated duration of the second summer Chinook salmon retention period will be issued no later than August 2.

Though very preliminary and incomplete, fish ticket reports indicate a total of 58,100 Chinook, 124,000 coho and 11,300 chum salmon have been landed since July 1, excluding harvest from the directed chum salmon fishery in Neets Bay/West Behm Canal. Average prices are $5.13/lb for Chinook, $1.57/lb for coho and $0.55/lb for chum salmon. Current average weights are 11.7 lbs for Chinook, 5.3 lbs for coho, and 7.1 lbs for chum salmon. Chinook salmon average weight is down from 2018 by 0.1 lbs and is above the 5-year average by 0.2 lbs, while coho salmon average weight is down from 2018 by 0.9 lbs and from the 5-year average by 0.3 lbs. Chum salmon average weight is down from both 2018 by 1.3 lbs and the 5-year average weight by 0.2 lbs.

The current regional power troll coho salmon catch rates for this week (statistical week 29), is 60/boat/day, with the highest catch rates in the Central Outside area, at 74/boat/day for the current week. Over the next few weeks, the Department will be making several coho salmon run strength assessments, the first of which is evaluating projected all-gear wild commercial catch and boundary area catch rates. Any conservation closures triggered as a result of these evaluations would be announced in a future news release.

A troll news release was issued on July 16 announcing the closure of the Neets Bay Terminal Harvest Area (THA) to troll gear until further notice. If summer run chum salmon broodstock needs are met at the Neets Bay facility, those waters may reopen by emergency order, and would be announced in a future news release.

The 2019 Summer Troll Fishery Management Plan (PDF 3,403 MB) is available online and in area offices.

Purse Seine Fishery

The 2019 total enhanced summer chum salmon run was expected to eclipse 17 million fish, but to date chum salmon returns have been much lower than expected throughout Southeast Alaska. The Hidden Falls Terminal Harvest Area (THA) has been closed since June 27 for broodstock concerns, the Southeast Cove THA has been closed since July 4 for cost recovery operations, and the Almalga Harbor Special Harvest Area (SHA) did not open on July 4 and may not open this season. The Neets Bay Kendrick Bay, Anita Bay, Thomas Bay, and Deep Inlet THAs remain open for common property fisheries. The common property purse seine chum salmon harvest in THAs is reported to be 55,000 fish to date.

The 2019 Southeast Alaska pink salmon harvest forecast is predicted to be weak with a point estimate of 18 million fish. In southern Southeast, common property purse seine openings directed at harvesting pink salmon began June 30 in District 7 and July 7 in Districts 1 and 4. In northern Southeast, directed pink salmon openings began July 14 in District 13 and July 18 In District 12. The Point Gardner and Kingsmill test fisheries were last fished on July 16 and 17. The harvest of chum salmon from these test fisheries has continued to be higher than average and harvest of pink salmon increased but was still below average. Recent observations of pink salmon abundance indicated an increase in abundance. The next purse seine openings will occur on July 21.

For all purse seine fishing areas except Hidden Falls, Anita Bay, Neets Bay, and Deep Inlet THAs, Chinook salmon 28 inches or greater in length may NOT be retained and Chinook salmon less than 28 inches may be retained but not sold. All Chinook salmon harvested in the Hidden Falls, Anita Bay, and Neets Bay THAs may be retained and sold. All Chinook salmon harvested in the Deep Inlet THA must be retained and may be sold. These restrictions will be in place through at least July 13.

Drift Gillnet Fishery

For more information please see the 2019 Southeast Alaska Drift Gillnet Fishery Management Plan (PDF 556 kB)

Tree Point/Section 1-B

The Section 1-B drift gillnet fishery was open four days starting on Sunday, July 14. In comparison to the 10-year average, harvest of all salmon species was below average. The effort level of 40 vessels was below the 10-year average of 48 vessels. The estimated weekly harvest was 30 Chinook salmon, 1,000 sockeye salmon, 200 coho salmon, 20,000 pink salmon, and 14,000 chum salmon. Next week (statistical week 30) marks the beginning of the District 1 Pink Salmon Management Plan. Under the plan, Section 1-B will open two days for each day the District 1 purse seine fishery is open. In statistical week 30 it is expected that the District 1 purse seine fishery will be open at least one day, therefore Section 1-B will start with two days fishing time, beginning at 12:01 p.m., Sunday, July 21. If the District 1 purse seine fishery is open for more than one day, the fishing time in Section 1-B will be extended accordingly.

For further details concerning this fishery, the 2019 Southeast Alaska Drift Gillnet Fishery Management Plan (PDF 556 kB) which is also available in area offices.

Stikine and Prince of Wales/Districts 6 and 8

The Districts 6 and 8 gillnet fisheries will be managed for sockeye salmon abundance through early August. Both districts opened for two days beginning Sunday, July 14. On the ground surveys indicated sockeye salmon abundance in both districts are well below the level needed to allow for additional fishing time. Overall, harvest of Chinook, sockeye, coho, and chum salmon were below the 10-year averages in both districts, while pink salmon harvests were above average in District 6 and below average in District 8.

The preseason forecast of Stikine River sockeye salmon is 90,000 fish, well below the average of 153,000 fish. This forecast includes: 66,000 Tahltan Lake and 24,000 mainstem sockeye salmon. The escapement objective for Tahltan bound fish is 18,000 fish and 30,000 fish for the mainstem component. Sockeye salmon fishery harvests have not met expectations in recent weeks, indicating a total run size below average. Historical run timing for the Tahltan portion of the run is past peak, while the mainstem component is near peak in District 8. Due to the expected return of Stikine mainstem sockeye salmon, conservative management actions will be in place during the next few weeks in District 8, including a district wide closure for at least the next two weeks. Additionally, the Board of Fisheries adopted the McDonald Lake Sockeye Salmon Action Plan. This plan limits gillnet fishing time to two days in District 6 for weeks 29 through 31.

For statistical week 30, District 6 will open for two days on July 21. District 8 will be closed.

Taku-Snettisham/Section 11-B

After reaching a likely crescendo in effort last week with approximately 95 boats fishing in District 11, this week's opener was lightly attended with approximately 70 boats fishing, just over half the recent 10-year average. This decline in effort is directly correlated with the lack of enhanced chum salmon abundance. The boats that remained this week appeared to be targeting sockeye salmon, resulting in above average catch rates. The fleet's transition in focus was quite evident when a 24-hour extension was announced in the southern portion of the district with a minimum mesh size to allow for targeting of enhanced chum salmon, and more than half the boats headed into the harbor.

The Taku River sockeye salmon total run size projection allows for another three-day opener in Taku Inlet next week. Sockeye salmon catch rates in District 11 were above average for the four-day opening. Otolith sampling in Taku Inlet this week indicates that nearly 20% of the sockeye salmon harvested in the Inlet were of Port Snettisham Hatchery origin. The run progression of wild fish to Speel Lake will be monitored closely to assess the likelihood of an opportunity to target hatchery returns in the Speel Arm Special Harvest Area (SHA) later in the season.

District 11 will open for three days district-wide with the north line in Taku Inlet shifted to the river flats. The minimum mesh size restriction south of Circle Point will remain in effect to minimize harvest of Port Snettisham wild sockeye salmon while providing opportunity to target enhanced chum salmon returning to Limestone Inlet. The Limestone Inlet SHA will remain open to the inner markers to allow further opportunity to target returning chum salmon. Department staff will continue surveying the fishery and an extension could be announced via VHF radio as late as 10am on the day of the posted closure.

Lynn Canal/District 15

District 15 opened to commercial fishing on July 14. Section 15-A opened for two days south of the latitude of Eldred Rock Light and east of line from Eldred Rock Light. Section 15-C, the Postage Stamp area, was enlarged with waters opened east of Vanderbilt Reef Light and Little Island Light. Section 15-C initially opened for three days in the Postage Stamp area and four days in the Outside waters of the Boat Harbor THA. On the ground surveys indicated chum salmon catch per unit effort (CPUE) doubled from the previous week, and extra fish time was warranted. A 24-hour extension was given in the Boat Harbor THA and the Postage Stamp area.

Approximately 207 permit holders harvested 80 Chinook, 200,000 chum, 6,000 sockeye, 4,000 pink, and 15 coho salmon, all below the 10-year averages for this statistical week. Fishing effort was above the 10-year average. Douglas Island Pink and Chum Inc. (DIPAC) chum salmon harvest is still behind the historical harvest for this time.

The cumulative sockeye salmon escapement to the Chilkoot and Chilkat lakes are above average with 24,000 and 17,000 fish, respectively. The current Chilkoot Lake escapement projection is approximately 92,000 sockeye salmon, above the upper end of the escapement goal range of 38,000–86,000 fish. The Chilkat River fish wheel catch of 1,900 sockeye salmon is on track to be slightly above average, and the Chilkat Lake escapement is projecting 105,000 fish at this time, within the escapement goal range of 70,000–150,000 fish. Chilkat River Chinook salmon catches are tapering off in the fish wheels and drift gillnet projects, but total catch is still above the 10-year average.

More area and time will be given in Section 15-C next week (statistical week 30). The Postage Stamp will be enlarged substantially, and the Boat Harbor THA will open 7 days a week until further notice. Section 15-A will remain at two days, but more fishing area will be implemented.

Yakutat Area Set Gillnet Fishery

Starting on July 14, the Dangerous River, Manby Outside Waters, Manby Inside Waters and remainder of the district opened for 2.5 days, and the Situk-Ahrnklin Inlet and Yakutat Bay opened for 1.5 days. The Alsek River was also opened on July 14 for 24-hours and was extended another 24-hours based on catch per unit effort (CPUE). The East Alsek was opened on July 14 for 48-hours.

Manby Inside Waters were not fished during statistical week 29. Harvest for the other respective areas is as follows. In the Situk-Ahrnklin Inlet, 25 permits harvested 2,769 sockeye salmon and 1,806 pink salmon, in Yakutat Bay 4 permits harvested 2 Chinook salmon, 538 sockeye salmon, 718 pink salmon and 1 coho salmon. The Alsek River had 8 permits harvest 2 Chinook salmon and 2,422 sockeye salmon. The Dangerous River and Manby Outside Waters were fished but harvest information is confidential. On the East Alsek River 3 permits harvested 1,036 sockeye salmon and 6 pink salmon. The fishing effort was average in all areas. The Chinook salmon and sockeye salmon harvest was below average for the Situk-Ahrnklin but this is due to the shorter fishing time.

Escapement monitoring at the Situk River weir for Chinook and sockeye salmon started on June 6. To date, 36,098 sockeye salmon, 319 large Chinook salmon, 273 medium-sized and 525 jack-sized Chinook salmon have been enumerated at the weir. The 10-year average cumulative count is approximately 58,157 sockeye salmon by the end of this statistical week. Escapement surveys were conducted on July 17 for East Alsek, Doame and Italio Rivers. There were approximately 17,500 sockeye salmon in the East Alsek, 620 sockeye salmon in the Doame and 830 sockeye salmon in the Italio River.

The Siuk-Ahrnklin Inlet and Yakutat Bay will have 1.5 days of fishing and the East Alsek River will have 2 days of fishing in statistical week 30. Dangerous River, Manby Outside, Manby Inside, Alsek River and the remainder of the district will have their normal openings. The Akwe River, and the Italio River systems will open by emergency order when adequate levels of escapement can be documented.

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.

Nakat Inlet THA

The Nakat Inlet harvest through statistical week 29 is 30,000 chum salmon. This total includes 18,000 chum salmon harvested by drift gillnet gear, 1,000 chum salmon harvested by purse seine gear in the traditional fishery and 11,000 chum salmon harvested in the THA.

For further information please refer to the 2019 Southeast Alaska Drift Gillnet Fishery Management Plan (PDF 556 kB) and for updates on Southern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association (SSRAA) contributions visit the SSRAA website external site link.

Neets Bay THA

The Neets Bay forecasted return is 1,911,400 summer chum, 345,100 fall chum, 16,200 Chinook, and 126,900 coho salmon. Neets Bay opened to the harvest of salmon by troll gear on Saturday June 15, and by rotational fishery between drift gillnet and purse seine on Monday, June 17.

The harvest of chum salmon through statistical week 29 is 12,000 salmon. In the traditional fishery 7,500 chum salmon were harvested by purse seine gear and 3,000 chum salmon were harvested by drift gillnet gear. Inside, 1,000 chum salmon were harvested by purse seine and 500 chum salmon were harvested by drift gillnet. The harvest of Chinook salmon in the Neets Bay THA through statistical week 29 is 6,000 salmon by purse seine gear and 3,000 salmon by drift gillnet gear.

For further information please refer to ADF&G news releases for Neets Bay and for updates on SSRAA contributions visit the SSRAA website external site link.

Kendrick Bay THA

The forecasted return for Kendrick Bay is 1,031,700 summer chum salmon. Kendrick Bay opened to the harvest of salmon by purse seine gear on Saturday, June 15.

The Kendrick Bay THA harvest through statistical week 29 is 88,000 chum salmon. This total includes 45,000 chum salmon harvested by purse seine gear, 13,000 chum salmon harvested by drift gillnet gear in the traditional fishery and 30,000 chum salmon harvested in the THA.

For further information please refer to the 2019 Southeast Alaska Drift Gillnet Fishery Management Plan (PDF 556 kB) and for updates on SSRAA contributions visit the SSRAA website external site link.

Caroll Inlet THA

The forecasted return for Carroll Inlet is 8,000 Chinook salmon. The Carroll Inlet THA opened to the harvest of salmon by all gear groups on Saturday, June 1, and the rotational fishery between purse seine and drift gillnet opened on Thursday, June 13.

The harvest of Chinook salmon in the Carroll Inlet THA through statistical week 29 is 1,000 salmon by purse seine gear and 500 salmon by drift gillnet gear.

For further information please refer to ADF&G news releases for Carroll Inlet and for updates on SSRAA contributions visit the SSRAA website external site link.

Anita Bay THA

The 2019 Anita Bay THA forecast includes: 535,800 summer chum, 15,700 king, and 9,200 coho salmon. Anita Bay opened on June 1 to troll, drift gillnet, and purse seine gear concurrently. Troll fishing will remain open for the season. A rotational fishery began on June 13 for the drift gillnet and purse seine gear groups with a time ratio of one to one. This rotational fishing period will conclude on August 31 when the THA opens to both gear groups concurrently until it closes for the season on November 10 at 12:00 noon.

The gillnet harvest to date is 3,300 Chinook and 1,200 chum salmon.

For further information and updates on SSRAA contributions and updates visit the SSRAA website external site link.

Deep Inlet THA

The Deep Inlet THA opened on June 2 for rotational fisheries. Seine openings will occur on Sunday, Thursday, and Friday, and gillnet openings will occur on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of each week. Forecasted runs for Deep Inlet THA and Medvejie Hatchery includes 2,144,000 chum, 35,300 king, and 78,000 coho salmon. This season, 100,000 chum salmon are needed for broodstock. The Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association (NSRAA) does not anticipate cost recovery operations this season in the Deep Inlet THA.

Seine harvest through July 17 is 1,700 Chinook salmon and 98,500 chum salmon; gillnet harvest through July 17 is 3,400 Chinook salmon and 68,000 chum salmon.

Hidden Falls THA

Openings in the Hidden Falls THA occurred on June 16, 20, 23, and 27. Further openings will be dependent on inseason run strength. Forecasted runs for the Hidden Falls THA includes 1,603,000 chum, 167,000 coho, and 1,900 king salmon. The Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association (NSRAA) needs 200,000 chum salmon for broodstock leaving 1,403,000 chum salmon available for common property harvest. NSRAA does not intend to use a tax assessment on the common property harvest of chum salmon to satisfy cost recovery needs as provided under AS 16.10.455.

The Hidden Falls THA will be closed until further notice to facilitate chum salmon broodstock collections.

Seine harvest through July 17 is 300 Chinook salmon and 13,000 chum salmon.