Whitehorse Daily Star

Alaska planning strict chinook conservation

As Yukon River chinook salmon begin entering the river, Alaska is preparing for another season of strict conservation.

By Whitehorse Star on June 8, 2015

As Yukon River chinook salmon begin entering the river, Alaska is preparing for another season of strict conservation.

Fishery biologist Sabrina Garcia of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said last week the intent is to implement the same management strategy as last year to ensure at least 42,500 fish reach the Yukon-Alaska border below Dawson City.

Garcia said full closures on fishing for chinook will be imposed on the subsistence fishery as the salmon move up the river.

Restrictions will be placed on fishing gear to minimize the incidental catch of chinook while fishing for summer chum salmon which migrate up the river at around the same time as the chinook, she said.

Garcia said as the chinook pass through the different districts, for instance, the subsistence fishery will be required to use dip nets while fishing for chum so that any chinook caught can be easily released, she said.

As of this morning, the sonar at Pilot Station located 200 kilometres upriver from the mouth has recorded a total of 3,074 chinook passing by, including 1,178 recorded Sunday, the highest daily count so far.

The chinook salmon run has been in trouble for the past several years, and scientists are not sure why. For the first time in history last year, Alaska shut down its subsistence chinook fishery and Yukon First Nations called for a full closure of the aboriginal food fishery on this side of the border.

Garcia said scientists are expecting the first large pulse of chinook around June 15, which would see the first pulse arrive at the border in mid-July.

Scientists are predicting a total run of between 118,000 and 140,000 chinook, approximately half of which are salmon of Yukon origin.

Executive director Dennis Zimmermann of the Yukon Salmon Sub-Committee said last week committee members are currently meeting with First Nations and local renewable resource councils to finalize this season’s management strategy.

“From the Canadian perspective, it will be the same as last year,” he said.

Zimmermann said the salmon sub-committee will soon be forwarding its official recommendation to the federal minister of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for approval.

Post-season analysis of the 2014 chinook run estimated there were 2,700 chinook taken by Alaska’s subsistence fishery through incidental catches and such.

By comparison, in the previous five years, the annual subsistence harvest averaged 31,134 chinook.

In years gone by, it was unusual for Alaska’s subsistence fishery to take 50,000 chinook.

It’s estimated 63,431 chinook reached the border below Dawson last year. The total aboriginal harvest was estimated at 100, largely for ceremonial purposes.

In years gone by, it wasn’t unusual for the Yukon’s aboriginal fishery to take anywhere from 4,000 to 8,000 chinook.

Some Yukon First Nations have suggested closing the fishery for a full life cycle of seven or eight years to give the chinook a chance to rebound.

There has been no commercial chinook fishery to speak of on either side of the border for several years.

Comments (6)

Up 4 Down 1

Butchy Munster on Jun 12, 2015 at 7:25 pm

@theory doesn't hold water.

Your argument is weak, in fact it is non-existent.

Up 11 Down 0

Stan Collins on Jun 11, 2015 at 12:31 pm

Its taken a little time but there is no doubt that Alaska is now very serious about rebuilding Yukon Chinook salmon stocks.
It may take some time but the habitat within Canada is in good overall shape and these fish may respond favourably to American and Canadian conservation efforts.

Up 9 Down 2

theory doesn't hold water on Jun 11, 2015 at 12:00 pm

Munster your theory doesn't hold water because other areas are up by a lot. Haines, Alaska saw a lot more salmon including sockeye.

Up 3 Down 10

Butchy Munster on Jun 10, 2015 at 6:00 pm

Attitudes that prevail in B.C. like when the Polley Mountain/ Quesnel Lake tailings pond disaster happened don't auger well for the survival of the Chinook.
Salmon don't like millions of liters of toxic slurry containing mercury, cadmium, arsenic, etc. The fallout from this white-washed disaster will be felt for years.
Alaska is getting real concerned over Christy Cambells cavalier attitude when considering governance of mining companies in B.C. and Alaska's affected Chinook runs. Time for Christy and mining to accept responsibility for inadequate tailings ponds.

Up 19 Down 2

Dee on Jun 9, 2015 at 11:13 pm

Find out why the numbers are so low. The governments need to put more funding into the research. The salmon are nowhere close to the sizes they used to be, why is that?

Up 31 Down 2

Close it down on Jun 8, 2015 at 3:10 pm

Close it down or face what happened to the east coast cod

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