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Salmon Fishery Update
Southeast Alaska & Yakutat Commercial Fisheries

Updated Friday, August 19, 2016

Troll Fishery

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.

The second Chinook salmon retention period opened August 13, to a target harvest of approximately 73,000 Chinook.  Preliminary fish ticket data indicates approximately 9,000 Chinook have been landed by 124 permits, with an average weight of 12 pounds per fish, and an average price of $5.83 per pound. Aerial vessel surveys indicate that effort during the second retention period is down from the first opening in July.  Poor weather has reduced the number of fishable days throughout the first week of the fishery. The department has no immediate plans to close the fishery, and Chinook retention remains open until further notice.

Regional power troll coho salmon catch rates averaged 63 fish per day last week, with the highest catch rates in the Central Outside and Northern Inside areas. Catch rates have decreased this week, with a mid-week catch per day average of 36 fish for the region as a whole.  It should be noted that coho salmon have been harvested incidentally during the past 7 days of the Chinook retention period, which has contributed to reduced coho catch rates. The seasonal average weight for coho is 6.0 pounds, but the current week average of 7.4 pounds is nearly a pound increase from just prior to the coho conservation closure last week.  The average price is currently $1.63 per pound and the cumulative catch since July 1 is approximately 900,000 coho salmon.

Troll effort in West Behm Canal targeting chum salmon returning to the Neets Bay hatchery has decreased over the past several weeks, and as of early last week were less than 10 boats. Based on fish tickets received through August 19, the average catch per landing for last week was 78 fish. A total of 70 permits have harvested approximately 109,000 chum salmon, at an average weight of 8.5 pounds, and an average price of $0.63 per pound.

Purse Seine Fishery

The 2016 Southeast Alaska common property purse seine fishery is now in its ninth week. Regional cumulative harvest estimates for purse seine gear as of August 19 are 14.4 million pink and 3.5 million chum salmon. During statistical week 34, fishing occurred on August 15 and a mid-week seine opening occurred on August 18.

Seine effort during the August 15 fishing period included 60 boats in District 1, 40 in District 4, 23 in Section 13-B, 22 in Section 13-A, and 20 boats each in districts 2 and 3. Total estimated harvest for the fishing period was 600,000 salmon, a decrease from the previous period estimated harvest of 720,000 salmon. The largest harvests occurred in District 1 with 206,000 salmon harvested, Section 13-A with 96,000 fish, District 4 with 92,000 fish, Districts 3 and 4 with 60,000 fish in each, and Section 13-B with 50,000 salmon harvested. Pink salmon harvest per boat was highest in Section 13-A with 4,200 fish, District 1 with 3,200 fish, District 3 with 2,900 fish, District 2 with 2,800 fish, and District 6 with 2,500 fish per boat. Chum salmon harvest per boat was highest in Section 13-B with 1,200 fish, Districts 1 and 2 with 150 fish, and Section 13-A with 140 fish, and districts 3, 4, and 6 with less than 100 fish per boat in each.

The mid-week seine opening on August 18 includes portions of Districts 1, 3, 4, and 13. Harvest information for this opening is not available at the time of this update.

Harvest of Southeast Alaska pink salmon through the week of August 14 typically accounts for about 88% of the overall harvest in Southern Southeast Alaska districts and about 92% of the overall harvest in Northern Southeast. Indications are for a total harvest of approximately 15 million pink salmon, below the preseason forecast of 34 million fish. The majority of the harvest occurred in Southern Southeast districts. Indications of pink salmon escapement are normal for Southern Southeast and the Sitka Management Area, and below normal for the remainder of Northern Southeast Alaska.

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, August 14, 2016. The effort level of 40 vessels was above the 10-year average of 29.  Overall, the Tree Point gillnet fishery is above average for every species except coho salmon. The sockeye salmon harvest was 4,500 fish, well above the 10-year average of 1,000 fish. The coho salmon harvest was 2,100 fish, which is slightly below the 10-year average of 2,900 fish. The pink salmon harvest was 76,000 fish, well above the 10-year average of 45,000 fish. The chum salmon harvest was 7,800 fish, which is near the average of 6,600 fish.  The Section 1-B drift gillnet fishery will no longer be managed according to the District One pink salmon management plan (5AAC 33.360).  It will now be managed based on the strength of returning wild stock coho and fall chum salmon.  With above average effort, average chum catches and slightly below average coho catches, Tree Point will open for four days in statistical week 35, beginning at 12:01 p.m., Sunday, August 21, 2015.  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

Management focus of the Districts 6 and 8 gillnet fishery for statistical week 34 was based on pink salmon abundance. Both districts were opened for 72 hours beginning on Sunday, August 14. Effort was above the 10-year average. The good pink salmon catch rates that were experienced in recent weeks fell well below the 10-year average this week. Although peak escapement surveys will be ongoing for the next couple of weeks, observations from recent surveys did not meet expectations. With the pink salmon returning to systems in Districts 6 and 8 waning and improvements to escapements lagging, both districts will open for a 48-hour period beginning Sunday, August 21. Management emphasis will transition from pink salmon management to coho salmon abundance starting early September.

The most recent Stikine River sockeye run size estimate is 242,000 fish, above the preseason forecast of 223,000 and well above the 10-year average of 172,000 fish. The latest inseason assessment for Stikine River Chinook salmon produced a terminal run size of 16,500 fish, well below the 10-year average of 30,000 fish. 

Taku-Snettisham/Section 11-B

The majority of effort in District 11 remained in or near the Speel Arm Special Harvest Area (SHA) this week to target returning Snettisham Hatchery sockeye salmon. Most of the fleet from last week had left the district after it became apparent that there was not a massive buildup of fish in the Speel Arm. The boats that stuck around the SHA to grind out sets were pretty happy with the results though, even if it was slow and steady. The total contribution of Snettisham Hatchery sockeye salmon to common property gillnet fisheries is still unknown as the run continues to trickle in, but the end result will be significant and probably not far off the 254,000 fish total run forecast. 

Coho salmon catch rates finally ticked up to near average after a few weeks of sub-standard performance. Although Taku River fish wheel catches and inriver Canadian fishery catch rates are still low for this time of year, the improvement in District 11 this week leaves a feeling of cautious optimism. The first inseason Taku River coho salmon run estimate projects a total inriver run of approximately 90,000 fish, which is in the upper end of the newly adopted escapement goal range. The initial inseason estimates are not based on a lot of data, however, so a sharp eye will be kept on coho salmon abundance indicators.

Next week might very well be the week that sets the pace for fall fishing in District 11. With the Snettisham Hatchery sockeye salmon returns likely tapering off, the weather and daylight hours providing a constant reminder that another season is sneaking up, and as of yet uncertain coho salmon opportunities. The fleet that remains will be mostly made up of the local "die hards" and even those will be constantly tempted by the bright, warm lights of the city only a short trip up Gastineau Channel if the bones are chilled and the net is empty.

District 11 will open for three days next week starting at noon on August 21 with the same lines as this week. Although a fraction of the fleet will undoubtedly continue to target enhanced sockeye salmon in the south, some will switch their focus to Taku Inlet in the north. Unlike most Olympic athletes, many District 11 gillnetters are perfectly happy striving for silver this time of year.

Lynn Canal/District 15

The Lynn Canal (District 15) drift gillnet fishery in Section 15-A will be open for three days in the northern part of the Section, and for two days in the southern part of the section. A part of Section 15C will be open for two days as well. The fishing period will begin on Sunday, August 21. The escapement of sockeye salmon into the Chilkoot River is currently within goal, with a total of about 82,500 fish through the weir as of August 17, 2016. The catch of sockeye salmon in the Chilkat River fish wheels is average for this time of year and the sonar counts at Chilkat Lake continue to be below average, though there has been an increase in the daily count recently due to improved flow conditions at the weir.  The gillnet fishery in the northern portion of Section 15-A will open for three days north of Mud Bay to the White Rock line in Lutak Inlet.  The southern portion of Section 15-A will open south of Seduction Point, with the addition of a that part of Chilkat Inlet south of the Glacier Point/Twin Coves line. The additional time in the northern section will allow the fleet to focus primarily on the harvesting of Chilkoot sockeye salmon, while the southern area will allow the harvest of mixed Chilkoot and Chilkat sockeye salmon.

Section 15-C will open south of Point Bridget for two days, with the management of this area shifting to focus on coho salmon.  The northern portion of this Section will be closed to reduce the harvest of the later portion of the Chilkat Lake sockeye salmon return, which is projected to be weak.

The harvest for the District 15 opening in statistical week 34 (August 14-August 20) was estimated to be 3,000 chum salmon, 18,000 sockeye salmon, 8,000 pink salmon and 150 coho salmon.  The harvest of sockeye salmon was about 1.8 times the proceeding 10-year average harvest, and the harvest of chum salmon was about half of the proceeding 10-year average. The pink salmon harvest was about 42% of the proceeding 10-year average, while the coho salmon harvest was only about 10% of the average, due primarily to the closure of Section 15C last week. An estimated 56 boats participated in the fishery, slightly below the average number of boats.

Yakutat Area Set Gillnet Fishery

All fisheries in the Yakutat Area have remained slow this week. With the exception of the East River, the sockeye salmon run is basically over, and coho salmon have just started to show in numbers.  Permits are also fighting very inclement weather, and effort has remained low. The Alsek River and Manby Shore were fished by fewer than three permits, and harvest information for those systems remains confidential. The Manby Shore inside waters and Dangerous River were open, but not fished this week. The Akwe, Italio, Lost, and Tsiu rivers remained closed to commercial fishing. The Akwe River will open this week for coho salmon harvest. In Yakutat Bay, three permits harvested 24 sockeye, 40 coho, and 1,400 pink salmon. In the Situk-Ahrnklin Inlet, 36 permits harvested 300 sockeye, 2,100 coho and 800 pink salmon. The East River is still targeting sockeye salmon, but inclement weather and subsequent flooding has adversely affected fishing efficiency. Three permits in the East River harvested fewer than 100 sockeye salmon. The Italio River systems may be opened by emergency order when coho salmon escapement counts have been observed.

The Situk River weir was pulled on August 12 and has been removed for the season. Approximately 56,000 sockeye salmon passed through the weir and the mid-range of the Biological Escapement Goal (BEG) was attained. There were 330 large Chinook salmon that passed through the weir and missed the lower bound BEG of 450 fish. The weir is removed before the pink and coho salmon run are over. The Situk River pink salmon goal is a sustainable escapement goal (SEG) and is for 33,000 pink salmon through the weir by August 5. There were 42,000 pink salmon counted through the weir before it was removed and the goal was attained.

The Canadian weir on the Klukshu River has recorded 634 Chinook and 1,658 sockeye salmon through August 17. The bottom end of the Chinook salmon BEG is 800 fish, and it is assumed that goal will not be attained.  It remains too early to project the final weir count for sockeye salmon. The coho salmon return to Yakutat this year is expected to be average to slightly above average. Coho salmon escapement surveys will commence in the Yakutat Area when the weather improves.

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 and purse seine as a rotational fishery with a time ratio of two to one respectively. This rotational fishing period will conclude on August 30 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 Southern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association (SSRAA) contributions and updates visit the SSRAA website. The estimated harvest to date is 3,500 Chinook, 120,000 chum and 900 coho salmon.

Boat Harbor THA

The inside waters of the Boat Harbor Terminal Harvest Area west of a regulatory marker at the entrance to Boat Harbor will remain open until further notice. No recent harvest estimates are available for this THA.

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. The Deep Inlet THA closed to all common property commercial salmon fisheries on Saturday, August 6, 2016 to facilitate collection of cost recovery chum salmon. Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association's (NSRAA) cost recovery goal is approximately 1,799,000 pounds of chum salmon, and 100,000 pounds has been harvested to date. Once cost recovery harvest is complete a News Release will be issued reopening the Deep Inlet THA to all common property commercial harvest.

Hidden Falls THA

Forecast returns for Hidden Falls Terminal Harvest Area (THA)  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 30,000 have been harvested for cost recovery. The Hidden Falls THA common property fishery opened on August 12, and harvest is confidential. Total return of chum salmon to the Hidden Falls THA, for this date, is well below forecast.

Kendrick Bay THA

The forecasted return for Kendrick Bay Terminal Harvest Area (THA) summer chum salmon is 868,000 fish. Kendrick Bay opened to the harvest of salmon by purse seine gear on Wednesday, June 15, 2016. The Kendrick Bay harvest of chum salmon through statistical week 33 is approximately 684,000 salmon, or 79% of the forecasted return. This total includes 552,000 chum salmon harvested by purse seine gear and 42,000 chum salmon harvested by drift gillnet gear in the traditional fishery and 90,000 chum salmon harvested in the THA. 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 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 33 is approximately 225,000 chum salmon, or 86% of the summer forecast. This total includes 83,000 chum salmon harvested by drift gillnet gear and 32,000 chum salmon harvested by purse seine gear in the traditional fishery and 110,000 chum salmon harvested in the THA.  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 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. Neets Bay opened to the harvest of salmon by drift gillnet and purse seine on Sunday, May 1, 2016. The Neets Bay harvest of chum salmon through statistical week 33 is approximately 1,007,000 salmon, or 81% of the summer forecast. This total includes 205,000 chum salmon harvested by purse seine gear, 42,000 chum salmon harvested by drift gillnet gear and 51,000 chum salmon harvested by Troll gear in the traditional fishery and 132,000 chum salmon harvested by purse seine, 4,000 chum salmon harvested by drift gillnet gear and 86,000 chum salmon harvested in the THA. An additional 379,000 have been harvested for cost recovery and 108,000 reserved for broodstock inside the THA. The harvest of Chinook salmon in the Neets Bay THA through statistical week 33 is 1,600 salmon by drift gillnet gear and 3,000 salmon by purse seine gear. For further information and updates on Southern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association (SSRAA) contributions and updates visit the SSRAA website.