By Dan Bross, KUAC
Another weak king salmon return is forecast for the Yukon River. Alaska Department of Fish and Game Yukon area management biologist Steve Hayes says this summer’s Chinook run is predicted to be up to 146,000 fish, in line with weak runs since 1997.
Hayes says if the forecast is realized, it will be another summer without a commercial Chinook harvest, and limited subsistence fishing. Meanwhile, the summer chum run on the Yukon is expected to be average
to above average, with up to two million fish coming back. A regulatory change made by Board of Fish this spring will allow a middle river commercial fishery. The new rule is specifically aimed at
reviving commercial fisheries in the villages of Anvik and Kaltag, where local processing plants have been closed or crippled by fishing limits.
Kaltag plant operator Doug Karlburg proposed the change and welcomes its approval. He credits support from local people, businesses, the state’s Hayes, and the governor’s office for getting behind the regulatory change. He says fish wheels set up with padded ramps enable operators
to divert kings back into the water unharmed.
Karlburg says testing has shown a nearly 100 percent survival rate, and observers will be used to monitor that this summer. He expects to employ 100 people.