The Kuskokwim River Salmon Management Working Group did not support the opening in a meeting Wednesday. They said subsistence fishermen upriver have not finished their chum harvests and argued that the escapement numbers are not strong enough at this point. The department says the chum escapement is near average and at least one escapement goal is on track.
Based on historical Bethel Test Fishery data, managers say about 80 percent of the chum run is through the lower river, compared to 98-percent of the king salmon and 97-percent of the sockeye salmon run.
About 8-thousand fish were harvested by 142 permit holders Monday, including 23 king salmon. Coast Villages Seafoods is not buying king salmon taken incidentally.
With the opening comes a subsistence closure. From 7:00 a.m. Friday, July 18 until midnight,subsistence salmon fishing is closed from the upper end of Straight Slough downstream to the mouth of the river.