Northwest Area Management Biologist
May 27, 2014
The Division of Sport Fish is closing the Unalakleet and Shaktoolik river drainages to sport fishing for king salmon, effective 12:01 a.m. on Friday, May 30, 2014. This emergency order prohibits the targeting of king salmon while sport fishing in these waters. In addition, this emergency order prohibits the use of bait in these drainages. Any king salmon caught incidentally while fishing for other species may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately.
Preseason projections indicate that king salmon runs into the Unalakleet and Shaktoolik rivers will be poor; the projected king salmon escapement is below the lower end of the escapement goal range. The king salmon Biological Escapement Goal (BEG) at the North River counting tower on the Unalakleet River is 1,200 – 2,600 fish, and has been met just 3 times in the previous 10 years (2004 – 2013). According to the Subdistricts 5 and 6 of the Norton Sound District and the Unalakleet River King Salmon Management Plan (5 AAC 04.395), if the projected king salmon escapement is below the lower end of the escapement goal range, all fishing for king salmon will be closed.
The Department does not have a stock assessment project in the Shaktoolik River, but the king salmon run generally cycles in accordance with Unalakleet River stocks. The elimination of sport harvests of king salmon in the Unalakleet and Shaktoolik rivers will provide protection for returning fish. The prohibition of bait is intended to minimize mortality of king salmon incidentally caught while sport fishing for other species.
The Department will evaluate inseason run strength and take appropriate management actions to ensure that escapement requirements are met. If inseason stock assessment information indicates that the king salmon escapement goal in the Unalakleet River will be met, restrictions will be relaxed.
For additional information contact Brendan Scanlon, Northwest & North Slope Area Management Biologist, 907-459-7268.