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Salmon Fishery Update
Southeast Alaska & Yakutat Commercial Fisheries
Updated Friday, September 25, 2015
Regional power troll coho salmon catch rates for the current week (week 39) are 52/day, which is just above the 20-year average of 49. The highest catch rates for week 39 are in the Northern Inside area. Through September 24, the seasonal average weight of coho is 5.9 lbs, which is right at the 5-year average, but below the 10-year and 2014 averages of 6.1 and 6.3 lbs, respectively. The seasonal average price is currently $.093/lb, with a peak price of $1.20 during the week of August 30. The cumulative harvest for traditional troll coho since July 1 is just under 1.09 million. In a news release issued September 15, the department announced the summer troll season would be extended through September 30, with some area restrictions.
In 2015, a total of 161 troll permits harvested 226,000 chum salmon returning to the Medvejie hatchery and Deep Inlet THA in the Sitka Sound area. The average weight for Sitka Sound chum was 7.1 lbs, with an average price of $0.55 per lb.
Trollers are still targeting fall chum salmon returning to the Neets Bay hatchery in West Behm Canal. Though no reports are available for the current week, a report from September 15 indicated 8-10 vessels fishing the area, with an average catch of 40-50 chum per landing and an average weight of 7.1 lbs. Fish tickets received to date indicate a harvest of approximately 153,000 chum since early July. Trollers had an average chum catch/landing of 125-150 for the summer run, at an average weight of 10.6 pounds and average price of $0.54.
The 2015–2016 winter troll fishery will open according to regulation at 12:01 a.m., October 11, 2015. The 2015–2016 Winter Troll Fishery Management Plan is available in all ADF&G area offices and on the troll fishery website.
The 2015 Summer Troll Management Plans can be found on the Southeast Summer Troll webpage. Inseason catch and effort data for summer is available on the same site.
Purse Seine Fishery
The SE Alaska purse seine fishery is now directed at harvesting fall chum salmon. During statistical week 37, fishing occurred in District 2 and Section 9-B on September 11. Harvest information is not available at this time.
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, September 20, 2015. The effort level of 20 boats was close to the 10-year average of 19 vessels. The total harvest was above average for chum salmon, and below average for coho salmon. Total estimate for weekly harvest is 5,000 coho and 5,000 chum salmon. The Tree Point drift gillnet fishery is currently being managed based on the strength of fall coho and chum salmon returns. The current harvest of chum salmon is strong and the harvest of coho is close to the 10-year average. The coho return to Hugh Smith is on target to meet escapement goals. Therefore the Tree Point gillnet fishery will finish the season with four days, beginning at 12:01 p.m., Sunday, September 27, 2015.
The following information about the Nakat Inlet, Neets Bay, and Kendrick Bay terminal harvest areas (THA) is estimated through Statistical Week 39. For further information and updates on SSRAA contributions and updates visit the SSRAA website.
Stikine and Prince of Wales/Districts 6 and 8
Management emphasis of the Districts 6 and 8 gillnet fishery for the 72-hour opening beginning September 20 was for wild coho salmon. Participation was below average with 30 boats fishing in District 6 and near average in District 8 with 27 boats fishing. Catch rates were above average in District 8 and below average in District 6. The harvest was composed of mostly hatchery fish, which indicates the run is past peak for the wild portion. Both districts will open for a 48-hour period beginning Sunday, September 27 and then will likely close for the season.
The most recent Stikine River sockeye run size estimate is 219,600 fish, above the 171,200 fish forecast. Final inseason estimates of Stikine River king salmon made on July 10 indicated a terminal run of 29,333 fish with an escapement of 22,500 fish, within the goal range of 14,000 to 28,000.
District 11 was open for two days this week with nearly 20 boats fishing predominantly in Taku Inlet and around Point Bishop. Coho and chum salmon made up almost the entire harvest with only trace amounts of sockeye and pink salmon remaining. Average coho salmon size appears to have fallen slightly to nine pounds with enhanced fish making up significantly more of the harvest than wild fish.
The Taku River coho salmon run is nearly 90% through the Canyon Island area based on historical run timing and the most current run estimate took the first step up of the season, albeit minor. This inriver run estimate of approximately 62,000 fish would result in just making the lower bound of the newly defined escapement goal range once Canadian harvest is subtracted. So, although it is nice to see things heading back in the right direction, a significant late pulse of fish would be needed to get anywhere near the middle of the goal range. The tagging projects occurring inriver will only remain in place for one more week, much reducing the ability to quantify a later run.
The likelihood of a week 40 fishery was slim until the Taku River coho salmon run estimate actually improved and coded-wire tag recoveries revealed that more than 75% of the total coho salmon harvest this week was made up of enhanced DIPAC coho returning to release sites in Gastineau Channel. Section 11-B will open for a 24-hour period next week with a restriction in place closing the waters of Taku Inlet. This should allow some opportunity for the hardy few to harvest enhanced coho salmon while minimizing impacts on wild fish. Next week will very likely be the last opening of the season.
Lynn Canal/District 15
The drift gillnet harvests in week 39 included 10 sockeye, 1,850 coho, and 3,400 chum salmon. The harvest of all salmon species was below average for this week. The estimated 30 boats that participated in the fishery was fewer than the average. Fish wheel catches of chum and coho salmon are below average. However, the current cumulative lower Chilkat River fish wheel catch of about 2,400 fall chum salmon indexes to approximately 160,000 fish in the Chilkat River. This escapement is within the sustainable escapement goal range of 75,000 to 250,000 chum salmon. Coho salmon abundance is currently below average based on fish wheel and commercial catch, but final escapement is expected to be within the Biological escapement goal range of 30,000 to 70,000 coho. With escapement for chum salmon within the goal range and coho escapement projected to be within goal range, 2-days of fishing time will be granted in the District in all areas south of North Kochu Island in Chilkat Inlet and south of the Tank Farm Point in Chilkoot Inlet.
Yakutat Area Set Gillnet Fishery
The Situk-Ahrnklin Inlet and the Tsiu River were the only areas fished this week in Yakutat. All other fisheries in Yakutat, with the exception of the Italio River systems, were open this week, but not fished. In the Situk-Ahrnklin Inlet, 55 permits harvested 20,800 coho salmon. The Tsiu River was fished by fewer than three permits, and harvest information is confidential. The Tsiu River is currently open, but has only been fished for two out of the last seven days due to inclement weather. The Italio River systems may open by emergency order when escapement counts have been observed.
The biological escapement goal (BEG) for sockeye and pink salmon was obtained in the Situk River, while the BEG for Chinook salmon was not. The BEG for both sockeye and Chinook salmon was obtained at the Klukshu River weir in Canada. The coho salmon BEG has been attained in the Tsiu River While it is possible that coho BEGs have been obtained in other systems in the Yakutat Area, inclement weather and flood events have prevented the actual observation of escapement levels. Indications are that the coho salmon return to the Yakutat area is about one week late. The Yakutat Set Net Fishery will remain open through mid-October.
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 38. 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 was 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 for Nakat Inlet chum salmon is approximately 404,000, or 184% of the combined summer and fall forecast, for all gear groups. The total includes 48,000 chum salmon harvested by purse seine gear and 131,000 chum salmon harvested by drift gillnet gear in the traditional fishery in addition to the 225,000 chum salmon harvested in the THA. The fall chum harvest is approximately 129,000; with 4,000 chum salmon harvested by purse seine gear, 95,000 harvested by drift gillnet gear and an additional 30,000 fall chum salmon harvested inside the THA.
Neets Bay THA
The Neets Bay forecasted return for summer chum salmon was 1,180,000 and 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, and closed on Wednesday, July 1, 2015 for the purpose of cost recovery. It reopened for rotational fisheries on Tuesday, August 4 and is currently closed again for collection of fall broodstock. The current harvest for Neets Bay salmon is approximately 2,042,000 chum salmon and 9,500 Chinook salmon. The total includes 290,000 chum salmon harvested by purse seine gear, 195,000 chum salmon harvested by drift gillnet gear and 125,000 chum salmon harvested by the troll fleet in the traditional fishery. Inside the Neets Bay THA, 50,000 chum salmon were harvested by gillnet gear, 530,000 chum salmon were harvested by purse seine gear, and 105,000 chum salmon were harvested by troll gear inside the Neets Bay THA. Additionally, 520,000 chum salmon have been harvested for cost-recovery and 227,000 secured for broodstock by SSRAA.
Kendrick Bay THA
The forecasted return for Kendrick Bay summer chum salmon was 745,000. Kendrick Bay opened to the harvest of salmon by purse seine gear on Monday, June 15, 2015. The current harvest for Kendrick Bay chum salmon is approximately 1,020,000, or 137% of the forecast, for all gear groups. The total includes 665,000 chum salmon harvested by purse seine gear, 110,000 chum salmon harvested by drift gillnet gear and 5,000 harvested by troll gear in the traditional fishery in addition to the 245,000 chum salmon harvested in the THA.
Anita Bay THA
Anita Bay forecast includes 47,000 coho salmon for 2015 with a reported harvest of 162,000 chum, 9,500 king, and 2,000 coho salmon to date. For further information and updates on SSRAA contributions and updates visit the SSRAA website.
Deep Inlet THA
The Deep Inlet THA rotational fisheries began May 31. Forecast returns for Deep Inlet THA and Medvejie Hatchery includes 1,336,000 chum salmon, 27,500 king salmon, and 18,000 coho salmon. The Deep Inlet THA fisheries closed on September 22 to protect returning coho salmon needed for broodstock. It is unlikely the Deep Inlet THA fisheries will reopen this season. To date, 2,000,000 chum salmon, 7,000 king salmon and 7,000 coho salmon have been harvested in the Deep Inlet THA fisheries.
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 occurred on 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. The return of chum salmon came in well below expectations and on June 28, the Hidden Falls THA closed. On August 11-12 The Hidden Falls THA reopened. The THA opened again on August 15-16, and no harvest occurred. The Hidden Falls THA is now closed and will likely remain closed for the remainder of the season. NSRAA needs approximately 180,000 chum salmon for broodstock. Seiners harvested approximately 35,000 chum salmon during common property openings.
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P.O. Box 115526
1255 W. 8th Street
Juneau, AK 99811-5526