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The Kuskokwim drainage hosts five species of Pacific salmon and supports important commercial and subsistence harvests. As a tributary of the Kuskokwim River, the Aniak River is one of the largest producers of chum salmon. In June and July, 80 to 85 percent of the salmon returning to the Aniak River are chum salmon. The remaining proportion is made up mostly of sockeye and king salmon. Coho salmon also return to the river, but primarily after the chum run. Pinks return to the Aniak River in small numbers.
Kuskokwim River subsistence and commercial salmon fisheries in June and July harvest mostly chum and king salmon. In the primary commercial chum fishing areas (Districts W-1 and W-2), commercial fishermen harvested an average of 46,316 fish annually from 2005 to 2009. And from 2000 to 2009, subsistence fishermen harvested an average of 52,067 chum salmon annually. Subsistence harvests of Kuskokwim chum salmon are a fundamental part of local culture. Subsistence fishermen in the Kuskokwim drainage harvest more chum salmon than in any other Alaska drainage other than the Yukon River drainage.
Kuskokwim chum salmon escapements are evaluated based on Aniak sonar site estimates and on the number of chum salmon counted at weirs located in six tributary streams. In season management of Kuskokim chum salmon is based on Aniak River sonar site estimates. ADF&G manages the fishery under a sustainable escapement goal requiring 220,000 to 480,000 chum salmon to pass the sonar site.