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Salmon Fishery Update
Southeast Alaska & Yakutat Commercial Fisheries

Updated Friday, August 11, 2017

ADF&G Announces Non-retention of Chinook Salmon for Commercial and Recreational Fisheries Throughout Southeast Alaska

Troll Fishery

Regional power troll coho catch rates for last week were 105 fish per day, with the highest catch rates in the Northern Inside and Central Outside areas. Through August 9, the seasonal average weight of coho is 4.7 pounds, which is below the 2016 average of 6.0 pounds, and the 5-year and 10-year averages of 5.5 and 5.6 pounds, respectively. The average price is currently $1.50 per pound, and the cumulative catch since July 1 is just under 1.2 million coho salmon for 4,800 landings by 800 permits. The department issued a news release August 7 (PDF 37 kB). indicating the summer troll fishery will remain open until further notice, and that a mid-August coho conservation closure is not warranted. The department will continue to closely monitor abundance indicators as the season progresses and will take appropriate action should the run fail to develop as expected.

The department also announced in the August 7 news release (PDF 37 kB) that with many of the Chinook salmon stocks from Alaska, Canada, and Washington that contribute to Southeast Alaska/Yakutat commercial troll fishery exhibiting poor production and not meeting escapement goals or objectives in 2017, conservation measures are necessary to reduce harvest on these stocks. Correspondingly, under the authority of the Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, retention of Chinook salmon in the troll fishery will remain closed for the duration of summer, including all terminal harvest areas (THA).

Troll effort in Sitka Sound targeting enhanced chum salmon returning to the Deep Inlet THA has increased considerably this week. Based on fish tickets received through August 9, the cumulative catch for weeks 30-32 is 89,000 chum salmon for 330 landings by 84 permits. The average weight for chum is 8.8 pounds, and the average price is $0.87 per pound.

Based on fish tickets received through August 9, trollers in the West Behm Canal/Neets Bay THA area caught approximately 211,500 chum salmon, with a current average weight of 9.3 pounds and an average price of $.85 per pound. The waters of West Behm canal remain open to troll gear, and Neets Bay reopened to trollers west of the easternmost tip of Bug Island on August 2 as waters of the general summer troll fishery.

The 2017 Summer Troll Management Plans can be found on the troll website. Inseason catch and effort data for summer is available on the same site.

Purse Seine Fishery

The 2017 Southeast Alaska common property purse seine fishery is now in its eighth week. Regional cumulative harvest estimates for purse seine gear as of August 11 are 17.0 million pink and 3.6 million chum salmon. During statistical week 32, fishing occurred on August 8 and on August 12.

Seine effort during the August 8 fishing period included 104 boats in Section 13-A, 50 on the West Admiralty Island shore, 20 each at Point Augusta and Section 9-B, 17 in District 4, and 14 in District 7. Total estimated harvest for the fishing period was 3.0 million salmon. The largest harvests occurred in Section 13-A with 1.7 million salmon harvested, followed by the West Admiralty Island shore with 316,000, Section 9-B with 255,000, Point Augusta with 237,000, and District 4 with 178,000 salmon harvested. Pink salmon harvest per boat was highest in Section 13-A with 16,300 fish per boat, followed by Section 9-B with 12,500, Point Augusta with 11,600, Districts 3 and 4 with 9,800 each, Section 13-C with 7,900, Tenakee Inlet and Basket Bay with 6,600, and West Admiralty Island shoreline with 6,000 fish per boat.

The seine opening on August 12 includes portions of Districts 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, 10, 12, 13, and 14. Harvest information for this opening is not available at the time of this update.

The pink salmon harvest forecast for 2017 is 43 million fish with a range of 27 - 59 million fish. Pink salmon harvest to date projects a total harvest for Southern Southeast Alaska districts of less than 10 million and in Northern Southeast Alaska districts, 25-28 million fish. By statistical week 32, on average, pink salmon harvest in Southern Southeast districts is 47% complete and in Northern Southeast districts pink salmon harvest is 60% complete. In general, pink salmon escapement and harvest are below average in Southern Southeast districts and in Northern Southeast districts, escapement varies by district from below to slightly above average and harvest is above average.

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 Section 1-B drift gillnet fishery was open for four days, in statistical week 32, starting at 12:01 p.m., Sunday, August 06, 2017. Harvests of all species except King salmon were below the 10-year average. The effort level of 35 vessels was below the 10-year average of 43 vessels. The weekly harvest estimate is 30 King salmon, 2,400 sockeye salmon, 1,200 coho salmon, 36,000 pink salmon, and 8,800 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 the District 1 purse seine fishery may receive only a day of fishing time in statistical week 32, therefore the Section 1-B drift gillnet fishery will open for two days, beginning at 12:01 p.m., Sunday, August 13. 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

Management focus of the Districts 6 and 8 gillnet fishery for week 32 was based on pink salmon abundance. Both districts were opened for 72 hours beginning on Sunday, August 6. Effort was below the 10-year average. Pink salmon catch rates were just below average in District 6 and above average in District 8. Parent year escapements to Districts 6 and 8 as a whole were within escapement targets. Escapement for this year is in the beginning stages of being assessed. Management emphasis will transition from pink salmon to coho salmon abundance starting in September. Both districts will open for a 72-hour period beginning Sunday, August 13.

The latest inseason assessment for Stikine River sockeye salmon produced a run size estimate of 139,000 fish. A run of this size is below preseason forecast 185,000 fish and below the 10-year average of 168,000 fish; however, escapement goals are expected to be met.

Taku-Snettisham/Section 11-B

Dwindling chum salmon harvest and mediocre sockeye salmon catch rates in District 11 this week prompted some serious attrition in effort with approximately 90 boats participating at the start of the opening and only 30 boats fishing at closing time three days later. A few fishermen were shocked that there was no time extension as this has occurred in the previous five openings, but many seemed ready for a truncated week with hot, still weather and fairly slow fishing. Those that stuck around for the end of the opening enjoyed an increase in sockeye salmon catch rates that occurs when the pie is being sliced up into much larger pieces.

The most current Taku River sockeye salmon inriver run projection is slightly above 100,000 fish which, after subtracting inriver harvest, leaves total escapement near the upper end of the goal range with just over 80% of the run through Canyon Island at this time. With some concern that the estimate is inflated and sub-average sockeye salmon daily catch rates in the District 11 fishery, it was decided to hold at three days of fishing this week. Attention from a lot of the fleet is now being turned to returning Port Snettisham Hatchery sockeye salmon and wild sockeye salmon through the Speel Lake weir. The former have been consistently pouring into the Speel Arm SHA and the hatchery where cost recovery operations are in full swing while the latter have been stalled out for several days below the weir waiting for some cool water to invite them into the lake. The weekend forecast appears to have plenty of rain in it and the hopes of many involve enough fish passing into the lake to rescind the mesh restriction in Stephens Passage and potentially allow targeting of hatchery returns inside Port Snettisham during next week's opening.

Coho salmon catch rates are still holding around average and there have been observations of a few big, bright fall chum salmon caught in Taku Inlet. The four letter f-word might not be that far around the corner.

The District 11 drift gillnet fishery will again open for three days in Section 11-B next week with the six-inch minimum mesh size restriction remaining in place south of Circle Point. Section 11-C will be closed based on slow building escapements of pink salmon in District 11 mainland streams in that area. The Limestone Inlet SHA will close back to the outer markers as very few enhanced chum salmon remain in the inlet and pink salmon escapement there is off to a slow start.

Department staff will be surveying the fishery as usual throughout the opening and gear restriction rescinding, time, and/or area extensions can be announced via VHF radio by 10am on the day of the posted closure. A six-hour minimum forewarning will be given prior to any fishing opportunity inside the Speel Arm SHA.

Lynn Canal/District 15

In Section 15-A the drift gillnet fishery will be open for two days beginning Monday, August 14th. The opening was delayed 24 hours due to the Golden North Salmon Derby in Juneau. As of August 10th, the sockeye escapement to Chilkoot Lake was 32,500 fish, above the cumulative lower bound of the goal for this time period. With an average of about 80% of the Chilkoot sockeye salmon run in the river by this time, the escapement projection is currently just above goal. The Chilkat Lake sockeye return is average, with about 30% of the run through the weir at this time. The sockeye salmon catch in the Chilkat River fish wheels is about 60% the average but is showing some recent strength. The pink salmon catch on the fish wheels is about three times the average. In response to the continued weakness in the Chilkoot Lake sockeye salmon return, the eastern shoreline of Section 15-A will be closed again this week and gillnet fishing will be limited to two days along the western shoreline, south of the Glacier Point/Twin Coves line.

The gillnet fishery in Section 15-C will be open for two days south of the latitude of Point Bridget. The focus of the 15-C fishery has shifted from the harvest of enhanced chum salmon to the harvest of surplus wild sockeye salmon as the chum salmon return tapers off.

The harvest for the two day opening in statistical week 32 (August 6 to August 8) is estimated to be 24,000 chum salmon, 6,000 sockeye salmon, 10 Chinook salmon, 14,000 pink salmon, and 150 coho salmon. The harvest of sockeye salmon is about one third of the proceeding 10-year average, while the chum salmon harvest is about 1.2 times the proceeding 10-year average and the pink salmon harvest is 60% of the average. An estimated 60 boats participated in the fishery, about two thirds of the average number. The cumulative harvest of chum salmon this year is about 1.47 million fish, close to 1.5 times the average, and well above projected common property share of the hatchery produced chum salmon. The cumulative sockeye salmon harvest is 26,000 fish, about 26% of the average, while the cumulative Chinook salmon harvest of 1,100 fish is 1.2 times the average. The cumulative pink salmon harvest of 156,000 fish is just below average.

Yakutat Area Set Gillnet Fishery

All fisheries in the Yakutat Area remained slow this week with the exception of the East River. The sockeye salmon return is coming to an end, and coho salmon have just started to show up in notable numbers. The Yakutat and Yakataga District fisheries are now being managed for coho salmon and the fisheries are opened for three days with the exception of the Alsek River. Fewer than three permits fished the Alsek River this week and harvest information is confidential. In Yakutat Bay, 13 permits harvested roughly 2,200 sockeye, 2,200 pinks, and 175 coho salmon. In the Situk-Ahrnklin Inlet, 33 permits harvested 3,000 sockeye, nearly 10,000 pinks, and 100 coho salmon. Based on historical run timing, coho salmon returning to the Yakutat area appear to be late. The East River is still targeting sockeye salmon, and nine permits harvested 1,500 fish. The Akwe and Dangerous rivers were opened but not fished. The Manby Shore inside and outside waters were also open, but not fished this week. The Italio River systems will not open for the remainder of the sockeye salmon season. They may be opened by emergency order when coho salmon escapement counts escapement counts have been observed.

Approximately 91,000 sockeye, 1,188 large Chinook, and 265,000 pink salmon have passed through the Situk River weir. The BEG for all three species have been achieved and also have exceeded the upper bound goal range. The latest updates from the Canadian's operating the Klukshu River weir have reported counts of 355 Chinook and 832 sockeye salmon; both well below the historical average. It is unlikely that the Chinook salmon BEG will be attained and too early to project if the BEG for sockeye salmon will be achieved.

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

At the time of publication, approximately 9,000 Chinook and 135,000 chum salmon have been harvested in Anita Bay. The Anita Bay THA forecast in 2017 includes: 481,000 summer chum, 15,400 Chinook, and 20,100 coho salmon. A rotational fishery began on June 13 for gillnet and purse seine gear groups and changed to a time ratio of two to one on July 31. This rotational fishing schedule will conclude on August 31 when the THA opens to all gear groups concurrently until November 10 at 12:00 noon. For further information and updates on SSRAA contributions and updates visit the SSRAA website external site link.

Boat Harbor THA

The inside area of the Boat Harbor Terminal Harvest Area will remain open until further notice. The inside area is defined as the inside waters of the Boat Harbor THA west of the department markers at the entrance of Boat Harbor. The outside area of the Boat Harbor THA is currently open to a distance of one nautical mile off the beach in order to allow the harvest of the hatchery chums while minimizing the harvest of wild salmon stocks returning to Lynn Canal. The outside area of the Boat Harbor THA will close with the rest of Section 15C on August 16th.

Deep Inlet THA

The Deep Inlet 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 week 32 gillnet openings is confidential; harvest from the seine opening on August 6 was approximately 10 Chinook and 5,000 chum salmon. Harvest to date from the combined rotational fisheries is 2,370 Chinook and 255,000 chum salmon. NSRAA anticipates a closure of the THA, in early August, will be necessary to complete cost recovery needs.

Hidden Falls THA

Forecast returns for Hidden Falls THA includes 510,000 chum salmon and 197,000 coho salmon; no Chinook salmon are expected to return in 2017. NSRAA needs 190,000 chum salmon for broodstock leaving 320,000 chum salmon available for common property harvests. Purse seine openings began June 18. Due to recent run failures and a weak forecast, only 5 openings have occurred to date. Chum salmon harvest from the Hidden Falls THA to date is approximately 189,000 fish. Additionally, due to a low forecast of chum salmon returns, there will be no tax assessment in the HFH THA.

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. The Kendrick Bay harvest of chum salmon through statistical week 30 is 642,000 salmon, or 74% of the forecasted return. This total includes 440,000 chum salmon harvested by purse seine gear and 39,000 chum salmon harvested by drift gillnet gear in the traditional fishery and 132,000 chum salmon harvested in the THA. For further information and updates on Southern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association (SSRAA) contributions and updates visit their website at SSRAA website external site link.

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. The Nakat Inlet harvest through statistical week 30 is approximately 267,000 chum salmon, or 118% of the summer forecast. This total includes 114,000 chum salmon harvested by drift gillnet gear and 15,000 chum salmon harvested by purse seine gear in the traditional fishery and 120,000 chum salmon harvested in the THA. For further information and updates on Southern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association (SSRAA) contributions and updates visit their website at SSRAA website external site link.

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. The Neets Bay harvest of chum salmon through statistical week 30 is approximately 1,115,000 salmon, or 84% of the summer forecast. This total includes 243,000 chum salmon harvested by purse seine gear, 80,000 chum salmon harvested by drift gillnet gear and 225,000 chum salmon harvested by troll gear in the traditional fishery and 7,500 chum salmon harvested by purse seine, 3,000 chum salmon harvested by drift gillnet, 115,000 chum salmon harvested by troll gear, and 400,000 chum salmon harvested for cost recovery inside the THA. The harvest of King salmon in the Neets Bay THA through statistical week 30 is 1,750 salmon by drift gillnet gear and 2,200 salmon by purse seine gear. For further information and updates on Southern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association (SSRAA) contributions and updates visit their website at SSRAA website external site link.