Chitina Personal Use Salmon Fishery

The Alaska Board of Fisheries establishes regulations and management plans that govern personal use fisheries and their bag limits and allowable gear.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game manages personal use fisheries according to the appropriate management plan.

The Alaska Wildlife Troopers and Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologists enforce personal use regulations.

Personal Use Fisheries Follow Board of Fisheries Management Plans

Management plans are formal, written regulations adopted by the Board of Fisheries to conserve salmon stocks and to provide harvest opportunities. The management plans can also allocate fish to various user groups, such as sport, commercial, personal use, and subsistence.

How Copper River Fisheries Are Managed

Management Plans and regulations that affect Copper River fisheries include:

The Board of Fisheries authorizes the department to manage the commercial salmon fishery for the annual inriver goal of salmon, which is measured by the Miles Lake Sonar. The inriver goal is estimated annually and is comprised of several different components, as listed in the table below.

Copper River inriver goal as measured at Miles Lake sonar (5 AAC 24.360)
Fishery component Component goal
Spawning escapement (sockeye salmon)
Set at the lower bound of the sockeye salmon spawning escapement goal
Spawning escapement (other salmon) (set by regulation) 17,500
Glennallen Subdistrict subsistence fishery (salmon)
Exact number is the average expanded harvest for the past 3 – 5 years
Chitina Subdistrict personal use fishery (salmon)
Exact number is the average expanded harvest for the past 3 – 5 years
Sport Fishery (salmon) (set by regulation) 15,000
Hatchery brood (sockeye salmon)
Usually set at 20,000 sockeye salmon
estimated annually
Hatchery surplus (sockeye salmon)
This is the number of hatchery sockeye that make it to the hatchery or release site and in excess of brood stock needs and can range from 5,000 – 150,000 salmon
estimated annually
Generally the inriver goal ranges between 583,000 and 795,000
announced annually

How Weekly Fishing Periods and Limits Are Established for the Chitina Personal Use Subdistrict

In the Chitina Subdistrict, the pre-season fishing schedule establishing weekly fishing periods is based on the projected inriver returns. Actual inriver returns are monitored by the sonar unit located at Miles Lake. Based upon previous migration studies, a two-week travel period from the Miles Lake sonar to Wood Canyon is used for management purposes from June through mid-July and a three-week travel period for mid-July until the sonar is removed. The management plan requires that the harvest be distributed throughout the season, based upon the projected sonar counts. The daily allocation of salmon for the Chitina Subdistrict is determined pre-season based upon the projected daily sonar counts. Weekly fishing periods are established from the recent 3- 5year average catch per hour applied to the weekly harvest allocation. Fishing period adjustments in-season are based upon actual sonar counts, and any salmon above the projected daily salmon escapement are considered surplus. When an escapement of more or less than the in-river goal of salmon actually pass the sonar counter, the Board of Fisheries has mandated that the department decrease or increase the fishing time by the corresponding percentage. Sockeye salmon comprise the majority of the harvest in the Chitina Subdistrict. Since 1990, approximately 95% of the harvest has been sockeye salmon, 4% chinook salmon, and 1% coho salmon.

How Personal Use Fisheries Differ from Other Fisheries

Personal use fisheries differ from sport fisheries in both their objective and management. Both fisheries provide Alaskans the opportunity to harvest fish for personal consumption (fish cannot be sold or bartered), but personal use fisheries are managed to maximize harvest potential whereas sport fisheries are managed to provide diversity of opportunity and to maximize economic benefit to Alaska. Also, anyone can participate in Alaska's sport fisheries (provided they have a license), but only Alaska residents may participate in personal use fisheries. The Division of Sport Fish generally manages the personal use fisheries.

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