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Salmon Fishery Update
Southeast Alaska & Yakutat Commercial Fisheries

Updated Friday, September 14, 2018

Southeast Chinook Salmon Symposium

The Southeast Chinook Salmon Symposium hosted by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game was held on Monday, May 21, from 5:00-8:00 p.m. at Sitka's Harrigan Centennial Hall. All event materials, presentations, and recorded audio are on the department's website at 2018 Sitka Chinook Symposium.

Presentation topics included:

  • Chinook salmon research: What we know about performance of local stocks, as well as Pacific Northwest Chinook salmon stocks coast-wide.
  • A look at the last 10 years of Chinook salmon management for commercial and sport fisheries, including annual allocations, actual harvest, and performance relative to the Pacific Salmon Treaty.
  • Conservative actions: Management measures in response to poor Chinook salmon production.
  • Treaty transparency: A summary of the treaty past, present, and future.
  • Public process and participation: An overview of the public regulatory process and how to get involved.
  • Public question and answer session.

Troll Fishery

The regional power troll coho salmon catch rate for this week is 39 fish/day, which is below the 20-year average of 89 fish/day and the 2017 average of 83 fish/day. The highest catch rates for the current week have occurred in the Central Outside and Northern Inside areas. For harvest through September 13, the seasonal average weight of coho salmon is 6.8 lbs., which is above the 2017 average of 5.1 lbs., and the 5-year and 10-year averages of 5.8 and 6.0 lbs., respectively. The average price is currently $2.11/lb. and the cumulative catch since July 1 is 850,000 coho salmon. A news release concerning the assessment of an extension of the troll season through September 30 will be issued during the week of September 16.

Troll effort targeting enhanced chum salmon returning to the Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association (NSRAA) release site in Crawfish Inlet has decreased during the current week, with a harvest of 4,000 chum salmon by 13 permits and a catch per landing of 233 chum salmon. Based on fish tickets received through September 13, approximately 152 permits have harvested 243,000 chum salmon at an average weight of 7.7 lbs. in Crawfish Inlet. Little to no effort targeting enhanced Deep Inlet chum salmon in the Sitka Sound area has occurred during the current week. Through September 13, a total of 181 trollers landed 122,000 chum salmon in Sitka Sound. The average weight for Sitka Sound chum salmon is 8.1 lbs., and the average price for both chum salmon areas is $0.98/lb.

Based on fish tickets received through September 13, a total of 118 permits harvested approximately 123,000 chum salmon since July 1 at an average weight of 10.7 lbs. and an average price of $1.01/lb. in the Neets Bay Terminal Harvest Area (THA)/West Behm Canal areas. The Neets Bay THA will remain closed until fall chum salmon broodstock is collected. If additional troll openings can be scheduled they will be announced by News Release.

The 2018–2019 winter troll fishery will open according to regulation at 12:01 a.m., October 11, 2018. The 2018–2019 Winter Troll Fishery Management Plan will be available by early October in all ADF&G area offices and on the troll fishery website.

For more information please see the 2018 Spring Troll Fishery Management Plan (PDF 5,470 kB)

Purse Seine Fishery

There are no more reports for the Southeast Alaska Purse Seine fishery.

For more information please see the 2018 Southeast Alaska Purse Seine Fishery Management Plan (PDF 299 kB)

Drift Gillnet Fishery

Traditional Southeast area drift gillnet fisheries occur in Districts 1, 6, 8, 11, and 15. For more specific information please see the  2018 Southeast Alaska Drift Gillnet Fishery Management Plan (PDF 526 kB)

Tree Point/Section 1-B

The Tree Point drift gillnet fishery was open four days starting at 12:01 p.m., Sunday, September 9, 2018. Harvest for all species of salmon were below the 10-year average. The effort level of 35 vessels was below the 10-year average of 38 vessels. The estimate of harvest this week was 150 sockeye, 10,800 coho, 50 pink, and 4,000 chum salmon. The Tree Point drift gillnet fishery is currently being managed based on the strength of fall coho and chum salmon returns. Tree Point will be open four days, beginning at 12:01 p.m., Sunday, September 16.

For further details concerning this fishery, the 2018 Southeast Alaska drift gillnet fishery management plan is available at area offices or online 2018 Southeast Alaska Drift Gillnet Fishery Management Plan (PDF 526 kB)

Stikine and Prince of Wales/Districts 6 and 8

Gillnet fisheries in Districts 6 and 8 were managed based on wild coho salmon abundance during SW37. Both districts opened for 96 hours beginning Sunday, September 9. Harvest rates for wild coho salmon in District 6 were just below average with an above average level of participation. Wild coho salmon harvest rates in District 8 were above average with below average effort. The hatchery component is expected to make up at least a half of the harvest this week. Wild coho salmon returning to systems in Districts 6 and 8 typically peaks during the first half of September with the hatchery component peaking during the second half of the month; thus, timing is likely past peak for the wild component. Both districts will open for 72 hours beginning Sunday, September 16.

Taku-Snettisham/Section 11-B

Coho salmon catch rates in the District 11 drift gillnet fishery were above a recent 10-year average overall this week but fell significantly each day of the three-day opening. Fleet size remained low with approximately 20 boats participating. The most consistent fishing appeared to be in the Point Bishop area where the harvest was largely made up of hatchery coho salmon returning to release sites in Gastineau Channel.

The Taku River coho salmon run size projection rose slightly from last week to nearly 77,000 fish. The run is currently 70% through the fish wheels based on historical run timing and judging by the falling catch rates in Taku Inlet may have a weak tail end. Since the US is obligated to pass 75,000 fish inriver under terms of the Pacific Salmon Treaty, a more conservative opening is warranted next week.

The Speel Arm Special Harvest Area (SHA) is closed for the season and total harvest there will be around 24,000 sockeye salmon. The lower bound of the Speel Lake wild sockeye salmon escapement goal range was obtained and fish are still trickling through the weir in small numbers.

District 11 will open for two days next week and department personnel will continue to survey the fishery and be prepared to announce an extension if coho salmon abundance appears solid. If fishery performance continues to fall off and Taku River coho salmon run size estimates reflect this decrease, the season may be wrapping up sooner than later.

Lynn Canal/District 15

District 15 drift gillnet fishery opened on September 9 for two days with a 24-hour extension in Section 15A and Section 15C. Chilkat Inlet remained closed north of Twin Coves. Chilkoot Inlet was open for 4 days north of Mud Bay Pt. The outside of the Boat Harbor Terminal Harvest (THA) area opened and closed with the rest of Section 15-C. The inside area of Boat Harbor THA was open continuously.

Escapement projects began on the Chilkoot and Chilkat weirs in June to enumerate the sockeye salmon spawning stocks. The Chilkoot fish weir sockeye salmon counts are in the upper portion of the escapement goal, and with numbers dwindling the weir was pulled on September 9th. Chilkat weir sockeye salmon count is progressing and with the commercial fleet switching to larger mesh sizes escapement has increased and is nearing the lower end of the goal range. Chilkat River Chinook salmon escapement assessment projects are currently underway to determine the total return for 2018. Coho salmon returns to the Chilkat River are monitored by the Chilkat Fish Wheels and catches have been above average. Chum salmon returns are also monitored by the Fish Wheels and catches are below average.

Drift gillnet gear is the most common commercial salmon fishing gear in District 15. The number of tenders representing multiple seafood processers was adequate for the estimated 50 fishing vessels participating.

An estimated 6,000 chum salmon were harvested which is half of the 10-year average for this stat week. Coho salmon harvests were estimated at 8,000 fish which is near the 10-year average. Sockeye salmon harvest are very low due to most of the fleet fishing with fall gear with larger mesh sizes to target chum and coho salmon.

Next week (sw 38) District 15 will start with a two day opener with the same lines keeping the fleet south of Twin Coves in Chilkat Inlet. Lutak and Chilkoot Inlet will close with the rest of the district as the Chilkoot salmon weir has been pulled and the Chilkoot coho salmon run cannot support high effort. Sport division will have a Chilkat River coho salmon in-season forecast by the end of the week which will provide more information.

Yakutat Area Set Gillnet Fishery

Coho salmon runs throughout the Yakutat area continue to remain strong with above average sized fish. The coho salmon harvest has been well above average and this week marks the peak week of the run. Coho salmon prices went up 10 cents last week and fishermen are getting $1.10/lb which is above the latest 5-year average.

In the Yakutat District, the Situk-Ahrnklin Inlet, Yakutat Bay, and Manby Shore-Outside Waters were the only areas fished this week. The Situk-Ahrnklin Inlet fishery was extended by one day and accounted for much of the effort and harvest. In the Situk-Ahrnklin Inlet, 76 permits harvested approximately 17,000 coho salmon. Fewer than three permits fished Manby Shore and Yakutat Bay and harvest information is confidential. All other fisheries in the remainder of the Yakutat District were opened but not fished.

In the Yakataga District, the Tsiu, Kaliakh, Seal, and Tashalich rivers received fishing effort this week. The Seal and Tashalich rivers were fished by fewer than three permits and harvest information is confidential. In the Tsiu/Tsivat River, five permits harvested 3,000 coho salmon. The Kaliakh River was opened for 4.5 days and four permits harvested 650 coho salmon. All other fisheries in the Yakataga District were opened but not fished.

Weekly surveys have been conducted on the Lost (Tawah), Situk and Tsiu/Tsivat rivers and all coho salmon escapement goals have been met or exceeded. The latest update on the Klukshu River weir from our Canadian counterparts suggest that the Klukshu Chinook salmon Biological Escapement Goal (BEG) has been achieved and it is likely the sockeye salmon BEG will also be achieved. The current Klukshu River weir count of 5,200 sockeye salmon is just under the minimum goal of 7,500 fish and the run is yet to be over.

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 of Nakat Inlet summer chum salmon is 260,300 and for fall chum salmon is 56,890. Nakat Inlet opened to the harvest of salmon by drift gillnet and troll gear on Friday, June 1, 2018. The Nakat Inlet harvest through statistical week 37 is 168,000 chum salmon, or 52% of the total forecast. This total includes 63,000 chum salmon harvested by drift gillnet gear and 6,000 chum salmon harvested by purse seine gear in the traditional fishery and 99,000 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 external site link.

Neets Bay THA

The Neets Bay forecasted return for summer chum salmon is 1,347,900, for fall chum salmon is 59,400, for Chinook salmon is 18,100, and for coho salmon is 82,716. Neets Bay opened to the harvest of salmon by drift gillnet and purse seine gear on Tuesday, May 1, 2018. The Neets Bay chum salmon harvest through statistical week 37 is approximately 1,002,000 salmon. This total includes 158,000 chum salmon harvested by purse seine gear, 42,000 chum salmon harvested by drift gillnet gear, and 100,000 chum salmon harvested by troll gear in the traditional fishery and 94,000 chum salmon harvested by purse seine gear, 18,000 chum salmon harvested by drift gillnet gear, 33,000 chum salmon harvested by troll gear, 390,000 chum salmon harvested for cost recovery in the THA, and 168,000 chum salmon reserved for broodstock. The harvest of Chinook salmon in the Neets Bay THA is 4,300 salmon by purse seine gear and 2,500 salmon by drift gillnet gear.

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

Kendrick Bay THA

The forecasted return for Kendrick Bay summer chum salmon is 632,500. Kendrick Bay opened to the harvest of salmon by purse seine gear on Friday, June 15, 2018. The Kendrick Bay harvest through statistical week 37 is 436,000 chum salmon, or 69% of the summer forecast. This total includes 235,000 chum salmon harvested by purse seine gear and 47,000 chum salmon harvested by drift gillnet gear in the traditional fishery and 154,000 chum salmon harvested in the THA.

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

Anita Bay THA

At the time of publication, approximately 11,000 Chinook, 92,000 chum, and 1,000 coho salmon have been harvested in Anita Bay. The 2018 preseason forecast for Anita Bay coho salmon is 9,900 fish. The THA is open to all gear groups concurrently until 12:00 noon, November 10.

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

Deep Inlet THA

The Deep Inlet THA opened on May 1; rotational fisheries began on June 17, with seine openings on Sunday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and gillnet openings on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Forecast returns for Deep Inlet Terminal Harvest Area (THA) and Medvejie Hatchery includes 1,250,000 chum salmon, 12,700 Chinook salmon, and 66,000 coho salmon. This season, 90,000 chum salmon are needed for broodstock. Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association (NSRAA) does not anticipate cost recovery operations this season in the Deep Inlet THA. Seine harvest to date is 4,400 Chinook salmon and 912,000 chum salmon; gillnet harvest to date is 3,100 Chinook salmon and 310,000 chum salmon.

Hidden Falls THA

To date there have been six common property openings in the Hidden Falls THA. The Hidden Falls THA is currently closed to allow hatchery operators opportunity to collect chum salmon for brood stock. Subsequent openings will be dependent on brood stock collection and inseason run strength. Forecast returns for 2018 Hidden Falls THA includes 593,000 chum, 191,000 coho, and 2,000 Chinook salmon.  NSRAA needs 190,000 chum salmon for broodstock, leaving 403,000 chum salmon available for common property harvests. NSRAA does not intend to use a tax assessment on the common property harvest of chum salmon to satisfy cost recovery needs as provided under AS 16.10.455. Seine harvest through July 12 in the Hidden Falls THA is approximately 1,000 Chinook salmon and 248,400 chum salmon.

Crawfish Inlet THA

There have been four common property opening in the Crawfish Inlet THA. More common property seine openings will occur on Sunday and Thursday of each week from September 16 through September 30. The chum salmon harvest to date for Crawfish Inlet is approximately 3,100,000 chum salmon; approximately 1.700,000 chum salmon have been harvested in the common property seine openings and troll harvest to date is 219,500 chum salmon.