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Salmon Fishery Update
Southeast Alaska & Yakutat Commercial Fisheries
Updated Friday, June 23, 2017
A total of 40 spring troll and terminal harvest areas have opened in 2017. Through June 22 (SW 25), approximately 358 permit holders have made 1,196 landings, with a total of 13,100 Chinook salmon harvested. Since fisheries re-opened June 15, following a 17 day wild Chinook salmon conservation closure, a total of 287 permits have made 562 landings for a harvest of 8,095 Chinook salmon. The current spring troll average weight for Chinook of 11.6 pounds is below both the 2016 and 5-year averages of 11.8 and 12.6 pounds, respectively. The seasonal Chinook average price per pound of $9.40 is a $1.08 increase from 2016, and an increase of $3.06 from the 5-year average. A news release announcing the fishery opening schedule for the week of June 25 will be issued Friday, June 23.
Purse Seine Fishery
The 2017 Southeast Alaska common property purse seine fishery is now in its first week. During statistical week 25, fishing occurred on June 18-21. For the region, purse seine harvest to date includes 36,000 chum, 1,200 Chinook, 500 sockeye, 400 coho, and 200 pink salmon.
Seine effort during the June 18-21 fishing period included 26 boats in District 2, with a harvest of 30,000 chum salmon, 400 sockeye, and 350 coho salmon for the first two days of fishing. Harvests from Kendrick Bay Terminal Harvest Area (THA), Hidden Falls THA, and Point Augusta were confidential. The statistical week 26 purse seine opening on June 25 will include portions of Districts 2, 10, and 12.
The pink salmon harvest forecast for 2017 is 43 million fish with a range of 27-59 million. It is too early in the pink salmon run to assess run strength or escapement at this time.
Southeast Alaska Chinook salmon stocks are currently experiencing a cycle of very low abundance. Over the past five years (2012-2016), the eleven monitored Chinook salmon index systems did not meet escapement goals 45% of the time. In 2016, nine of the eleven monitored Chinook salmon index systems were below their escapement goal ranges. In 2017, three of the six systems for which forecasts are developed are projecting runs below their escapement goal ranges. In an effort to meet escapement in Southeast Alaska systems, restrictions will be implemented in gillnet, seine, troll, sport, personal use, and subsistence fisheries in Southeast Alaska.
The Pacific Salmon Treaty Chinook salmon allocation for purse seine gear in 2017 is 9,020 fish, down from 15,291 in 2016.
For Kendrick Bay THA and the District 2 purse seine fishery, no Chinook salmon may be retained, landed, or sold. This includes Chinook salmon less than 28 inches in length.
For all other fishing areas open outside of THAs, Chinook salmon 28 inches or greater in length may not be retained and sold. Chinook salmon greater than 21 inches and less than 28 inches may be retained but not sold. Chinook salmon 21 inches or less may be retained and 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.
For further harvest information by gear type see Southeast Inseason Harvest by Gear webpage.
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 12:01p.m., Sunday, June 18, 2017. Harvest of chum salmon was above average and harvests of all species of salmon were below the previous 10-year average. The effort level of 36 vessels was below the 10-year average of 44 vessels. The estimates weekly harvest was 350 Chinook salmon, 5,000 sockeye salmon, 200 coho salmon, 50 pink salmon, and 11,500 chum salmon. The Nass River has a pre-season forecast of 454,000 sockeye salmon. With below average effort, and above average harvest of chum salmon, Tree Point will open for four days in statistical week 26, beginning at 12:01 p.m., Sunday, June 25. For further details concerning this fishery, please see the 2017 Southeast Alaska Drift Gillnet Fishery Management Plan (PDF 533 kB).
Stikine and Prince of Wales/Districts 6 and 8
District 6 opened for drift gillnet fishing for an initial 48 hour period on Sunday, June 18. District 8 did not open for this initial opening due to the poor run of Stikine River Chinook salmon. On the grounds surveys indicated an abundance of sockeye below the level to warrant additional fishing time in District 6. Harvests of Chinook, sockeye, and coho salmon were below average, pink salmon was average, and chum salmon was well above average.
The Districts 6 and 8 gillnet fishery is managed for sockeye salmon abundance through early August. The preseason forecast for Stikine River sockeye salmon is 185,000 fish, above the recent ten year average of 168,000 fish. The early portion of the run consists primarily of the Tahltan Lake origin sockeye, which is expected to contribute to the majority of the allowable catch. Both Districts 6 and 8 will open on June 25 for 48 hours. A maximum allowed mesh of six inches will be in effect for both districts and there will be area restrictions in place for District 8 for Chinook salmon conservation. ADF&G personnel will be on the grounds assessing sockeye salmon run strength for possible adjustments to fishing periods
A reliable inseason estimate of Stikine River king salmon abundance has not been produced to date; however, all indications point towards a run size lower than the preseason forecast of 18,300 fish and below the lower end of the escapement goal range.
The inaugural 2017 Taku Inlet / Stephens Passage (District 11) drift gillnet fishery got off to a cautious start with an unprecedented area closure and six-inch maximum mesh size restriction in place to conserve Taku River large Chinook salmon. Although the vast majority (nearly 90%) of the Taku River Chinook salmon run has historically transited the District 11 fishery by mid-June, the preseason forecast of 13,300 large fish and inseason stock assessment suggesting the run will be worse than the forecast precluded an opening with "normal" restrictions. The escapement goal range for Taku River large Chinook salmon is 19,000 to 36,000 fish and it currently appears this year's run will fall well short of the bottom end of the range even with significant commercial and sport fishing restrictions. In going forward, there is not much more that can be done in the District 11 drift gillnet fishery as all but the tip of the tail end of the run is in the river.
Approximately 20 boats participated in this week's opening which is well below the recent 10-year average. Chinook salmon harvest was larger than expected with the restrictions in place and port sampling efforts show that around 80% of the Chinook salmon harvested were non-large fish which was corroborated by observations from the daily fishery survey. Sockeye salmon catch rates were near average for the opening, a good sign considering many of the prime sockeye salmon fishing areas were in closed waters this week. Chum salmon catch rates were above average and the average weight of these fish was over nine pounds.
The preseason Taku River sockeye salmon run forecast is 198,000 fish and it is too early to generate an inseason estimate. Daily inriver fish wheel sockeye salmon catch has been average to above average for the past several days and it appears the early component of the run might be about one week late. With inriver abundance trending in the positive direction and catch rates in District 11 off to a good start, there is room for optimism on the sockeye scene.
The District 11 drift gillnet fishery will open for two days in Taku Inlet with the northern portion above Jaw Point closed to help protect Chinook salmon milling around the flats. The portion of the district south of Circle Point will open for three days and the six-inch maximum mesh size restriction will remain in place throughout the district to further minimize harvest of large Chinook salmon.
Department staff will be surveying the fishery as usual throughout the season and extensions to any opening can be announced via VHF radio by 10 am on the day of the posted closure.
Lynn Canal/District 15
The 2017 Lynn Canal (District 15) drift gillnet fishery will open again for two days beginning Sunday, June 25 in Sections 15-A and 15-C. The entire district will have a 6" maximum mesh restriction to reduce Chinook salmon harvest. The Chilkat River Chinook salmon return is projected to be below the lower end of the escapement goal, and the gillnet fishery in Section 15-A will also continue to be limited in time and area to reduce the Chinook salmon harvest. Additionally, the escapement of sockeye salmon into the Chilkoot River is currently below goal, with a total 399 fish through the weir as of June 22, 2017, and the catch of sockeye in the Chilkat River fish wheels continues to be low. Section 15-C management will focus on harvesting hatchery chum salmon while providing escapement within goal ranges for wild northbound salmon stocks.
The harvest for the two day opening in statistical week 25 (June 18-20) was estimated to be 74,000 chum salmon, 1,200 sockeye salmon, 80 Chinook salmon, and a small number of pink and coho salmon. The harvest of sockeye salmon was about one third of the proceeding 10-year average, while the enhanced chum harvest was almost four times the proceeding 10-year average. An estimated 126 boats participated in the fishery, just below the average.
Yakutat Area Set Gillnet Fishery
In the Alsek River, 11 permits harvested approximately 650 sockeye and 35 Chinook salmon. Catch per unit effort (CPUE) was below average and the fishing period remained at one day. In Yakutat Bay, 28 permits harvested 5,000 sockeye and 100 Chinook salmon. The Dangerous River was opened to commercial fishing but was not fished. The Situk-Ahrnklin Inelt fishery was opened for 2.5 days and 45 permits harvested 8,300 sockeye salmon. The Manby Shore fishery opened on Sunday, June 19 for 2.5 days with fewer than three permits, and harvest information is confidential. The remainder of the Yakutat District will open on June 25 for 2.5 days with the exception of the Akwe River. The Akwe River will remain closed until adequate levels of escapement can be observed. The East River and Italio River systems will open by emergency order when sustainable escapement counts have been observed. An aerial survey conducted on the East and Doame river systems on Monday, June 19 indicated an early, yet strong sockeye salmon return and it is anticipated that the Biological Escapement Goal (BEG) of 13,000 fish will be achieved soon.
Sockeye salmon returns to the Yakutat Area in 2017 are expected to be average to above average. The 2017 preseason forecast of a total return of 475 large Chinook salmon to the Situk River is indicative of a below average return, and subsistence, sport, and commercial fisheries remain closed for Situk River Chinook salmon. These fisheries will reopen when Situk River weir counts indicate that the biological escapement goal (BEG) will be attained. A strong, and early push of sockeye salmon returned to the Situk River this year and the lower end of the Situk River sockeye salmon BEG of 30,000 fish was achieved on June 18. The coho salmon return this year is also expected to be average to above average. The Klukshu River weir in Canada is still not assembled due to high water interferences.
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.
Boat Harbor THA
The inside area of the Boat Harbor Terminal Harvest Area (THA) will remain open until further notice to allow the harvest of the hatchery chums while minimizing the harvest of wild salmon stocks returning to the rivers along the western shoreline of lower Lynn Canal. This area is defined as the inside waters of the Boat Harbor THA west of the department markers at the entrance of Boat Harbor. The remaining area of the Boat Harbor THA will open for two days beginning June 25. There is no mesh restriction on the nets fished in the inside waters of the Boat Harbor THA.
Nakat Inlet THA
The forecasted return of Nakat Inlet summer chum salmon is 226,000 and for fall chum salmon is 96,800. Nakat Inlet opened to the harvest of salmon by drift gillnet and troll gear on Thursday, June 1, 2017. Current harvest information for the Nakat Inlet THA 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 1,320,000, for fall chum salmon is 212,600, for Chinook salmon is 22,200, and for coho salmon is 254,800. Neets Bay opened to the harvest of salmon by Drift Gillnet and Purse Seine on Monday, May 1, and has a rotational fishery between Drift Gillnet and Purse Seine through June 26, 2017. Current harvest information for Neets Bay THA is confidential. For further information and updates on Southern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association (SSRAA) contributions and updates visit the SSRAA website.
Kendrick Bay THA
The forecasted return for Kendrick Bay summer chum salmon is 842,000. Kendrick Bay opened to the harvest of salmon by purse seine gear on Thursday, June 15, 2016. Current harvest information for Kendrick Bay THA is confidential. For further information and updates on Southern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association (SSRAA) contributions and updates visit the SSRAA website.
Anita Bay THA
The 2017 Anita Bay Terminal Harvest Area (THA) forecast includes 481,000 summer chum, 15,400 Chinook, and 20,100 coho salmon. Approximately 2,400 Chinook and 500 chum salmon have been harvested to date. A rotational fishery began on June 13 for the drift gillnet and purse seine gear groups with an initial time ratio of one to one and will then change to a time ratio of two to one in SW 31. 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.
For further information and updates on SSRAA contributions and updates visit the SSRAA website.
Deep Inlet THA
The Deep Inlet Terminal Harvest Area (THA) rotational fisheries began on May 28 and chum management began on June 18; with seine openings on Sunday, Thursday and Friday, and gillnet openings on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Forecast returns for Deep Inlet THA and Medvejie Hatchery includes 1,355,000 chum salmon, 22,700 Chinook salmon, and 52,000 coho salmon. This season, 90,000 chum salmon are needed for broodstock, and up to 386,000 chum salmon are needed for cost recovery, depending on price. Harvest from the seine and gillnet openings remains confidential. Harvest to date from the rotational fisheries combined is 800 Chinook and 3,300 chum salmon. Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association (NSRAA) anticipates a closure of the THA, in early August, will be necessary to complete cost recovery needs.
Hidden Falls THA
Purse seine openings began June 18. Due to recent run failures and a weak forecast, it is anticipated that only 2-3 openings will likely occur prior to a closure for broodstock collection. Forecast returns for Hidden Falls Terminal Harvest Area (THA) includes 510,000 chum salmon and 197,000 coho salmon; no Chinook salmon are expected to return in 2017. Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association (NSRAA) needs 190,000 chum salmon for broodstock leaving 320,000 chum salmon available for common property harvests. Harvest from the seine fishery is confidential. NSRAA is not planning any direct cost-recovery harvest in the Hidden Falls Special Harvest Area (SHA). Additionally, due to a low forecast of chum salmon returns, there will be no tax assessment in the HFH THA.
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