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Salmon Fishery Update
Southeast Alaska & Yakutat Commercial Fisheries

Updated Friday, August 7, 2020

Troll Fishery

The Southeast Alaska/Yakutat commercial troll fishery will close to the taking of all salmon at 11:59 p.m., August 6, except within hatchery chum salmon and select terminal harvest areas. The fishery will be closed for eight days, from August 7–14, and will reopen to the taking of all salmon at 12:01 a.m., August 15.

A total of 71,000 treaty Chinook salmon were harvested by trollers during the first summer opening, leaving an estimated 50,600 Chinook salmon (including a 1% Alaska hatchery component) to harvest during the second opening. The areas of high Chinook salmon abundance will remain closed (5 AAC 29.025). The retention period will be managed inseason with no predetermined length and will be closed by emergency order. The department anticipates a relatively short opening, with the harvest target estimated to be taken in four to six days.

Preliminary data indicates a total of 262,000 coho salmon have been landed in the troll fishery since July 1 with an average weight of 4.9 lb. Coho salmon catch is down 33% and 62% from the 2019 and 5-year averages. The average weight is down from 2019 and the 5-year average by 0.5 lb and 0.8 lb. The average price for 2020 of $1.75/lb is above the 2019 and 5-year average by $0.06 and $0.28.

The current regional power troll coho salmon catch rate for statistical week (SW) 32 is 70 fish/boat/day, with the highest catch rate in the Central Outside area at 73 fish/boat/day.

Troll effort targeting hatchery chum salmon returning to the Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association (NSRAA) release sites in Crawfish Inlet and Deep Inlet Terminal Harvest Areas (THA) have increased during the current week. Based on fish tickets received for SW 32, approximately 14 vessels have harvested 3,100 chum salmon in West Crawfish Inlet with a catch/landing of 183 fish. The cumulative catch to date in this area is 5,100 chum salmon, with an average catch/landing of 220 fish. In the Sitka Sound area, 13 trollers have a cumulative harvest of 2,600 chum salmon (SWs 29-32), with a catch/landing of 146 fish. For the current week, five vessels have reported 300 chum salmon, with a catch per landing of 63 fish. Harvest and effort data for the Crawfish Inlet THA is currently confidential.

Current chum salmon average weights for fish tickets received to date are 8.6 lb for West Crawfish Inlet and 8.3 lb for Sitka Sound. The average price is $0.47/lb for these fisheries. The Crawfish Inlet THA, West Crawfish Inlet, and the Sitka Sound Terminal Chum Salmon Area will remain open to troll gear during the August troll closure, with retention of Chinook and coho salmon prohibited. The seasonal total chum salmon harvest for Neets Bay THA/West Behm Canal through SW 29 was 1,051 chum salmon landed with six vessels averaging 105 chum salmon/landing. The Neets Bay THA closed on July 6.

The 2020 Summer Troll Fishery Management Plan (PDF 3,743 MB) was published this week and is available in area offices and on the troll webpage.

Purse Seine Fishery

Hatchery produced chum salmon throughout Southeast have been returning in numbers much lower than forecasted and hatchery operators have ceased or limited common property and/or cost recovery harvests to obtain broodstock. Common property purse seine openings continue to occur in only the Deep Inlet, Thomas Bay, and Kendrick Bay terminal harvest areas (THAs).

The 2020 Southeast Alaska pink salmon harvest forecast was for a weak harvest of 12 million fish. In southern Southeast, traditional common property purse seine openings directed at harvesting pink salmon began July 5 in Districts 1, 2, and 7, District 4 and areas in District 3 and 5 opened statistical week 30. In northern Southeast, only the Point Augusta Index fishery has opened to date. Harvests have been poor with an estimated 2.0 million pink salmon and 450,000 chum salmon harvested. Purse seine effort is down from prior years with less than 150 boats fishing. The most recent fishery occurred Wednesday, August 5 in Districts 1–7, and 13. An estimated 700,000 pink salmon were harvested mostly from Districts 2 and 3. The next scheduled opening is for Saturday, August 8.

Drift Gillnet Fishery

For more information please see the 2020 Southeast Alaska Drift Gillnet Fishery Management Plan (PDF 765 kB)

Tree Point/Section 1-B

The Section 1-B drift gillnet fishery was open for four days starting on Sunday, August 2. In comparison to the 10-year average, harvest of all salmon species, except chum salmon, was below average. The effort level of 31 vessels was also below the 10-year average of 44 vessels. The estimated weekly harvest was 25 Chinook salmon, 500 sockeye salmon, 1,500 coho salmon, 30,000 pink salmon, and 13,000 chum salmon. The Section 1-B drift gillnet fishery is currently being managed according to the District One Pink Salmon Management Plan (5 AAC 33.360). It is anticipated that in statistical week 33 the District 1 purse seine fishery will receive at least two days of fishing time, and therefore the Section 1-B drift gillnet fishery will be open four days.

For further details concerning this fishery, please see the 2020 Southeast Alaska Drift Gillnet Fishery Management Plan (PDF 765 kB) which is also available at area offices.

Stikine and Prince of Wales/Districts 6 and 8

The Districts 6 and 8 gillnet fishery was managed for pink salmon abundance during the statistical week 32 opening. Both districts were opened for two days beginning Sunday, August 2. Area was limited in District 8 due to Stikine River sockeye salmon conservation. Overall, this week's fishery performance was similar to recent weeks with pink salmon catch per unit effort (CPUE) below average but continued to increase. Chinook, sockeye, coho, and chum salmon continued to be below the ten-year average as well. Early portions of the pink salmon fishery will be managed primarily on CPUE and parent-year escapement until in-season escapement assessments become sufficient to gauge run strength.

Although escapement assessments are in the beginning stages, pink salmon have been observed entering streams in good numbers for the time of year. Both districts will open for three days beginning Sunday, August 9.

Taku-Snettisham/Section 11-B

Effort stayed proportionally similar from this week to last week in District 11 at approximately 60% of the recent 10-year average with around 45 boats fishing this week. Estimated chum salmon harvest (5,000 fish) doubled the sockeye salmon harvest (2,500 fish) in a week where the latter is on average a few thousand fish higher than the former. The weekly chum salmon catch rate reached average for the first time this season now that the summer runs have passed through and fall run fish have started to appear. The District 11 chum salmon total harvest through this week is estimated at 105,000 fish compared to an average of approximately 527,000 fish.

The sockeye salmon weekly harvest estimate of 2,500 fish is 14% of average, the lowest District 11 harvest for the week since the late 1980's. The current Taku River sockeye salmon run size estimate projects to a terminal run size just below the average of 148,000 fish. The allowable catch of Taku River sockeye salmon for the U.S. and Canada at this run size and perceived enhancement level is 67,000 fish and 20,000 fish with estimated harvests through this week, with historically 90% of the run through District 11 and 80% through the inriver fishery, at 16,000 fish (based on historical weekly proportions of Taku fish) and 9,000 fish. Sockeye salmon weir counts into Kuthai and King Salmon lakes are robust with around 3,000 fish into Kuthai Lake (compared to an average of 700 fish) and a record breaking 12,000 fish into King Salmon Lake (compared to an average of 3,000 fish).

The weekly pink salmon catch rate remained above average for the second consecutive opening and it appears this is being driven by solid Taku River returns as returns to some of the more minor index streams in the area are fairly weak. The weekly coho salmon catch rate fell to half of average, but it sounds like some larger fish are being caught. Coho salmon catch rates have been below average thus far in the Canada inriver fishery and catch rates in the Canyon Island fish wheels have also been below average. It is still early for Taku River coho salmon though and abundance can pick up in a hurry. The Taku River coho salmon terminal run forecast is above average which may result in significant allowable catch to the District 11 fishery.

The District 11 drift gillnet fishery will again initially open for two days next week throughout the district in the last sockeye salmon management opening of the season. Department staff will be surveying on the grounds as usual and will be in place to announce an extension if indicators warrant.

The 2020 SEAK Drift Gillnet Fishery Management Plan can be found on the Southeast Management Plans webpage

Lynn Canal/District 15

District 15 gillnet fishery opened for two days on August 2. In Section 15-A, fishing area increased, and Chilkoot Inlet opened north of Katzehin River flats light to Tanani Point. Section 15-C was opened south of the latitude of Point Bridget for the second consecutive week. Night closures and mesh restrictions have been lifted districtwide. Outside waters of the Boat Harbor Terminal Harvest Area (BHTHA) remained open within 1 nautical mile offshore south of Lance Point, and inside waters of BHTHA continue to remain open. Chum and sockeye salmon harvests continue to be poor and catches were below average this week. Effort dropped from the previous week with only 62 permit holders fishing Lynn Canal.

Approximately 20 Chinook, 6,000 chum, 7,000 sockeye, 12,000 pink, and 150 coho salmon were harvested in District 15. The harvest for all species were below the recent 10-year average for this statistical week. The Douglas Island Pink and Chum, Inc. (DIPAC) chum salmon returns to Boat Harbor THA is essentially over, but a few fish are still showing up inside.

The Chilkoot Lake sockeye salmon weir count is currently at 42,000 fish and lower bound of the sustainable escapement goal (SEG) range has been attained. The current estimated sockeye salmon escapement at Chilkat Lake is approximately 15,000 sockeye salmon. Weir counts are well behind the 10-year average for this time and the inseason total run projection is for an average to below average return.

Next week (statistical week 32), fishing area in Section 15-A will increase and Lutak Inlet will open to the White Rock line for two days. Waters south of the latitude of Seduction Point will also open for two days. Section 15-C will be the same as last week, south of Point Bridget for two days. Outside waters of the Boat Harbor THA will close on Wednesday, August 12.

Yakutat Area Set Gillnet Fishery

The Situk River had a total of 13 permits harvest 407 sockeye, 74 coho and 589 pink salmon. Fleet participation and harvest was below average. The East Alsek River was fished but less than three permits participated in fishery and harvest information is confidential. The Alsek River, Dangerous River, Yakutat Bay, Manby-Outside Waters, Manby-Inside Waters and Kaliakh River were not fished. Participation in all fisheries was hampered by a storm that moved through the middle of openings.

Escapement monitoring at the Situk River weir for sockeye salmon and Chinook salmon started on June 11. To date, 62,913 sockeye salmon and 1,192 large Chinook salmon have been enumerated at the weir. The upper end of the escapement goal for Chinook salmon has been exceeded and the lower end sockeye salmon escapement goal has been achieved. The 10-year average cumulative count is approximately 76,967 sockeye salmon and 499 Chinook salmon by the end of this statistical week. An aerial survey was conducted on July 30. The following were observed: East Alsek River 12,000 sockeye salmon.

Fishing times may be adjusted based on escapement through the weir and Yakutat Bay harvest for statistical week 33. There is another storm expected for statistical week 33 that will likely hamper participation and harvest. The Italio River and Tsiu 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 forecasted return for Nakat Inlet is 128,900 summer chum salmon and 57,600 fall chum salmon. Nakat Inlet opened continuously to the harvest of salmon by drift gillnet and troll gear on Monday, June 1. The current harvest is 58,000 chum salmon.

For further information please refer to the 2020 Southeast Alaska Drift Gillnet Fishery Management Plan (PDF 765 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 662,300 summer chum salmon, 52,900 fall chum salmon, 11,400 Chinook salmon, and 108,800 coho salmon. Neets Bay opened to the harvest of salmon by troll gear on Monday, June 15, and by rotational fishery between drift gillnet and purse seine on Wednesday, June 17. Neets Bay closed to all gear groups on Monday, July 6 to provide the Southern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association (SSRAA) the opportunity to conduct cost recovery. The current harvest is 3,200 Chinook and 2,300 chum salmon by drift gillnet gear and 3,000 Chinook and 6,000 chum salmon harvested by purse seine gear.

For further information please refer to the ADF&G advisory announcement 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 451,600 summer chum salmon. Kendrick Bay opened continuously to the harvest of salmon by purse seine gear on Monday, June 15. The current harvest is 50,000 chum salmon.

For further information please refer to the 2020 Southeast Alaska purse seine fishery management plan (PDF 790 kB) and for updates on SSRAA contributions visit the SSRAA website external site link.

Caroll Inlet THA

The forecasted return for Carroll Inlet is 7,000 Chinook salmon. The Carroll Inlet THA opened to the harvest of salmon by all gear groups on Monday, June 1, and closed to purse seine and drift gillnet on Friday, June 12. The rotational fishery between purse seine and drift gillnet began on Monday, June 15. Current harvest is 1,000 Chinook salmon by drift gillnet and 1,650 fish by purse seine gear.

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

Anita Bay THA

The 2020 Anita Bay THA forecast includes: 366,300 summer chum, 11,000 Chinook, and 11,900 coho salmon. The commercial harvest to date is 8,000 Chinook and 13,000 chum salmon. Anita Bay will be closed to commercial salmon fishing from 12:01 a.m., Monday, July 13, through 11:59 p.m., Sunday, August 9, to facilitate cost recovery efforts. The rotational fishery will reopen for drift gillnet and purse seine fleets on August 10 and will be in place through the rest of August.

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

Deep Inlet THA

The Deep Inlet THA opened on June 2. Forecasted runs for Deep Inlet THA and Medvejie Hatchery includes 1,478,000 chum salmon, 10,700 king salmon, and 110,000 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 August 2 is 2,500 Chinook and 116,000 chum salmon; gillnet harvest through August 5 is 3,600 Chinook and 93,500 chum salmon.

Hidden Falls THA

The first common property purse seine opening in the Hidden Falls THA occurred on June 21 and was followed by openings on June 25 and June 28. The Hidden Falls THA is now closed and subsequent openings will be dependent on inseason run strength. Forecasted runs for Hidden Falls THA includes 364,000 chum salmon, 27,000 coho salmon, and 850 king salmon expected to return in 2020. The Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association (NSRAA) needs 200,000 chum salmon for broodstock, leaving 164,000 chum salmon available for common property harvests. Seine harvest through June 28 is 7,700 chum salmon.

Crawfish Inlet THA

A run of 1,579,000 chum salmon is forecasted to return to the Crawfish Inlet remote release site in 2020. No chum salmon are needed for broodstock. The Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Associate (NSRAA) is planning to conduct cost recovery this season in Crawfish Inlet.on

Purse seine openings at Crawfish Inlet will be conducted as needed to maintain fish quality and prevent large buildups of hatchery produced chum salmon. Seine openings may occur inside the boundaries of the Special Harvest Area (SHA) depending on abundance of fish and balancing the troll priority. Seine openings will not be scheduled as was done during the 2019 season. Purse seiners are advised that openings at Crawfish Inlet during the 2020 season may be announced with a minimum 24-hour notice if necessary, in order to maximize fish quality.