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Salmon Fishery Update
Southeast Alaska & Yakutat Commercial Fisheries

Updated Friday, August 28, 2015

Troll Fishery
Regional power troll coho salmon catch rates for the current week (week 35) are 60/day, which is below the 20-year average of 79.  The highest catch rates for week 35 are in the Southern Outside and Central Inside areas. Effort has declined during the month of August, with a record low 122 permits targeting coho during the week of August 16.  Through August 26, the seasonal average weight of coho is 5.7 lbs, which is below the 2014 average of 6.0, and the 5-year and 10-year averages of 5.8.  The average price is currently $.89/lb and the cumulative catch since July 1 is just over 800,000. 

Trollers have been targeting chum salmon returning to the Medvejie hatchery and Deep Inlet THA in the Sitka Sound area during the month of August.  Through August 27, a total of 197,000 chum have been harvested by 149 permits.  Both harvest and effort have recently declined, with current weekly totals confidential.  The average weight for Sitka Sound chum is 7.2 lbs, and fish tickets received to date indicate an average price of $0.55 per lb.

Trollers are also targeting fall chum salmon returning to the Neets Bay hatchery in West Behm Canal.  A report on August 27 indicated 10-15 vessels are fishing the area, however no harvest, weight, or price information is available for the current week.  The current fish ticket report indicates a harvest of approximately 124,000 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 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
Regional cumulative harvest estimates for purse seine gear as of August 28 are 28.9 million pink and 5.0 million chum salmon. During statistical week 35, fishing occurred on August 23–24 with an estimated harvest of 1.8 million salmon including 1.5 million pink and 284,000 chum salmon. A mid-week opening occurred on August 27–28.

Seine effort during the August 23–24 fishing period included 73 boats in Deep Inlet THA, 30 in District 4, 28 in District 12, and 25 boats in District 3. The largest harvests occurred in District 12 with 425,000 salmon harvested, District 3 with 323,000, District 4 with 246,000, and Deep Inlet THA with 244,000 salmon harvested. Pink salmon harvest per boat was highest in District 12 with 14,500 fish, Section 13-A with 13,900 fish, Section 9-B with 12,500, and District 3 with 12,000 fish per boat. Chum salmon harvest per boat was highest in Deep Inlet THA with 3,100 fish, Districts 2 and 3 each with 500 fish, and District 12 and Section 13-B each with 400 fish per boat.

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, August 23, 2015. The effort level of 30 was close to the 10-year average of 31 vessels. The total harvest was above average for chum salmon, and below average for all other salmon species. Total estimate for weekly harvest is 700 sockeye, 3,000 coho, 10,000 pink, and 30,000 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 while the harvest of coho is below average the coho return to Hugh Smith is on target to meet escapement goals. Therefore the Tree Point gillnet fishery will be open for four days, beginning at 12:01 p.m., Sunday, August 30, 2015.

The following information about the Nakat Inlet, Neets Bay, and Kendrick Bay terminal harvest areas (THA) is estimated through Statistical Week 34. For further information and updates on SSRAA contributions and updates visit the SSRAA website.

Stikine and Prince of Wales/Districts 6 and 8
Management focus of the Districts 6 and 8 gillnet fishery for the opener on August 23 was based on pink salmon abundance. Both districts were opened to commercial gillnet fishing for a 48-hour period with a reported below average number of participants. Pink salmon catch rates were near average in both districts. Pink salmon escapements in District 8 have met the goal, while escapements to portions of District 6 are behind. Management emphasis will transition from pink salmon management to coho salmon abundance starting September 6. Both districts will open for a 48-hour period beginning Sunday, August 30.

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; resulting in an escapement within the goal range of 14,000 to 28,000 fish.  

Taku-Snettisham/Section 11-B
District 11 saw yet another week of well below-average effort with approximately 35 boats participating in the fishery. The waters of Port Snettisham, including the Speel Arm Special Harvest Area, attracted the most attention with enhanced sockeye salmon still making their way through to the hatchery. With the lower end of the escapement goal range for Speel Lake sockeye salmon tantalizingly close to being in the bag, Port Snettisham was extended for an additional 48 hours resulting in five total days of fishing there for the week. The remainder of District 11 closed at noon on Wednesday for a total of three days of fishing.

The most current Taku River coho salmon inriver run estimate edged up by a couple-thousand fish from last week's version, and it appears the run may be slightly delayed as was the case with Taku River sockeye salmon. Sockeye salmon inriver harvests by Canadian fishermen and inriver fish wheel catches are at record numbers for this time in the season and it seems after getting off to a shaky start, Taku  River reds are finishing up strong. 

The Speel Arm will be opened until further notice starting next week to provide opportunity for late-arriving enhanced sockeye salmon. If those fish follow the trend of their Taku River counterparts, perhaps a gillnetter or two will have a big score. Section 11-C will close for the season as pink salmon abundance outside the streams of this area has tapered off significantly. The remainder of Section 11-B will open for four days of fishing and perhaps will provide some opportunity to more definitively gauge the strength of the Taku River coho salmon returns.

Lynn Canal/District 15
Harvests in week 34 included 15,400 sockeye, 1,200 coho, 15,200 pink and 5,200 chum salmon.  Harvests of sockeye and pink salmon were above average and below average for coho and chum salmon although harvest rates for chum salmon were above average.  The estimated 40 boats that participated in the fishery is below average.  The majority of the harvest occurred in Section 15-A within Chilkoot and Lutak Inlets.

The current Chilkoot Lake sockeye salmon weir count is approximately 63,000 fish. This count is near the recent 10-year average of 60,000 fish. Based on normal run timing, with approximately 90% of the escapement through the weir, final escapement is projected to be well within the escapement goal range of 38,000 to 86,000 fish. Fish wheel catches of sockeye salmon continue to be at record levels for this time. Stock compositions are indicating that Chilkat Lake sockeye salmon are dominating the fish wheel catch at this time.  The current escapement into Chilkat Lake of 54,000 fish is above the long and near term historical averages.  With approximately 43% of the run through the weir, projections for final escapement are within the escapement goal range of 70,000 to 150,000 fish. With escapement for Chilkoot Lake sockeye salmon escapement within goal ranges, and continued high Chilkat River fish wheel catches for sockeye salmon, Section 15-A will start with three days in all areas with the exception of an area north of Kochu Island within Chilkat Inlet. All of 15-C will also start for 3-days in the District to harvest Chilkat River and Chilkoot Lake sockeye salmon.

Yakutat Area Set Gillnet Fishery
For about 15 years now, economic factors have affected the distribution of effort in Yakutat area coho salmon fisheries.  Outlying areas that were historically fished for coho salmon now receive little or no effort due to the cost of flying those fish to available markets.  The coho salmon fishery this week collapsed in on the two fisheries closest to the market, the Situk-Ahrnklin Inlet and Yakutat Bay.  All other fisheries in Yakutat, with the exception of the Tsiu River, were open this week, but not fished.  In the Situk-Ahrnklin Inlet, 52 permits harvested 350 sockeye, 9,500 coho, and 2,500 pink salmon. In Yakutat Bay, seven permits harvested very small numbers of sockeye, coho and pink salmon. Yakutat Bay is not a major coho salmon producer, and effort levels there will probably remain low throughout the season.  The Tsiu River remains closed, but may open on short notice when some coho salmon escapement has been observed. The Italio River systems may open by emergency order when escapement counts have been observed. 

Over 95,000 sockeye and 75,000 pink salmon passed through the Situk River weir, and the biological escapement goal (BEG) for both species was attained. Only 175 large Chinook salmon passed through the weir and the Chinook salmon BEG was not attained.  The BEG for Chinook salmon at the Klukshu River weir in Canada has been attained.  Over 3,000 sockeye salmon have now passed through the weir, and it is projected that the sockeye salmon BEG will also be attained.  Coho salmon escapement surveys of the Situk River, the Tsiu River, and Tawah Creek have revealed very few early fish in those systems.  Indications are that the coho salmon return to the Yakutat area is about one week late.  

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 32. 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 is 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 416,000, or 141% of the combined summer and fall forecast, for all gear groups. The total includes 51,000 chum salmon harvested by purse seine gear and 140,000 chum salmon harvested by drift gillnet gear in the traditional fishery in addition to the 225,000 chum salmon harvested in the THA.

Neets Bay THA
The Neets Bay forecasted return for summer chum salmon is 1,180,000, 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 1,957,000 chum salmon and 9,500 Chinook salmon. The total includes 274,000 chum salmon harvested by purse seine gear, 180,000 chum salmon harvested by drift gillnet gear and 115,000 chum salmon harvested by the troll fleet in the traditional fishery.  Inside the Neets Bay THA, 42,000 chum salmon were harvested by gillnet gear, 514,000 chum salmon were harvested by purse seine gear, and 85,000 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 is 745,000. Kendrick Bay opened to the harvest of salmon by purse seine gear on Monday, June 15, 2014. The current harvest for Kendrick Bay chum salmon is approximately 1,023,000, or 137% of the forecast, for all gear groups. The total includes 690,000 chum salmon harvested by purse seine gear and 96,000 chum salmon harvested by drift gillnet gear in the traditional fishery in addition to the 237,000 chum salmon harvested in the THA.

Anita Bay THA
Anita Bay forecast includes 370,000 summer chum and 47,000 coho salmon for 2015 with a reported harvest of 161,000 chum, 9,000 king, and 400 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.  This season NSRAA does not anticipate closing the Deep Inlet rotational fishery for cost recovery harvest. On August 23, 73 seiners harvested approximately 230,000 chum salmon.  On August 24-25, 80 gillnetters harvested approximately 50,000 chum salmon.  To date, 1,617,000 chum 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.