Three weeks into lower river Chinook closures, Acting Refuge Manager and Federal in Season Manager Brian McCaffery says he’s authorized the harvest of about a thousand fish total among 32 communities.
“So that people could have that opportunity to at least stay in touch with the king salmon even though we have a closure on the fishing for them…so at least a few king salmon could be caught and distributed among the communities along the river,” said McCaffery.
The largely population based allocations range from a dozen for the smallest villages to 66 in Kwethluk. Bethel with its 6,000 residents, however is not based on population. Bethel’s tribe, ONC, will coordinate the harvest of 100 fish for Bethel.
“It allowed Bethel to still have some opportunity to participate without overwhelming and radically reducing the allocation for other communities. Because we wanted it to be significant for as many of the communities as possible,” said McCaffery.
Each tribal council will select a community representative as the primary permit holder. That person will make sure the allocation is not exceeded and will report back weekly.
“They have a responsibility to make sure that any of the fish caught are made available among to all the federally qualified subsistence users in the community whether or not they are tribal members,” said McCaffery.
That one person can designate fisherman certain number of chinook to catch for the community. The permit only works within the refuge boundaries. Communities hundreds of miles upriver can designate a fisher who lives further downriver. The full list of allocation and gear rules is available here.