Lower Yukon subsistence fishing could change

by Angela Denning-Barnes on April 27, 2012

Several proposals would change subsistence fishing on the Lower Yukon if they get adopted by the Federal Subsistence Board. The board is taking comments until June 15 on multiple proposals that could change fishing for salmon and pike on the lower river.

The subsistence board has gathered proposed fish changes that would affect federal subsistence seasons, harvest limits, and methods for the regulatory years of April 2013 through March 31, 2015.

One proposal would put more restrictions on subsistence salmon fishing on the Lower Yukon, in Districts 1 through 3. The proposal seeks to cut in half the windows of salmon fishing from 2, 36-hour periods per week to 2, 18-hour periods per week. The proposal was submitted by the Eastern Interior Alaska Subsistence Regional Advisory Council. They say lower river fishers currently get thousands of fish that prevent upriver residents from meeting their subsistence needs.

The same council submitted another proposal restricting salmon fishing in Districts 1 through 3. It seeks to lengthen the waiting period between subsistence and commercial fishing periods. They say this would manage the river fairly, so the lower river has the same restrictions as the upper river. And they say it will increase King salmon escapement.

Several proposals were submitted that would limit the customary trade of subsistence caught salmon on the Yukon.

Three similar proposals seek to restrict the customary trade of Yukon salmon to locals. Two of the proposals were submitted by the Western and Eastern Interior Alaska Subsistence Regional Advisory Councils. One was submitted by the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta Subsistence Regional Advisory Council. All three look to restrict the trades of Yukon salmon to occur only between federally qualified subsistence users within the Yukon River drainage. The councils say this will prevent large customary trade exchanges of Yukon King salmon with rural residents who live outside of the Yukon drainage or those who moved to urban areas.

Three other proposals limiting customary trade of Yukon King salmon were submitted. One by the Eastern Interior Council and two by the Y-K Delta Council. Two of them seek to prioritize local consumption of salmon over trade. They would change the language to include that Yukon River King salmon are to be used primarily for subsistence use for human food and personal family consumption.

The other proposal by the Y-K Delta subsistence council would limit customary trade for cash within the Yukon Drainage to $750 dollars per household. Currently, there are no cash limits.

Another proposal would change the way subsistence King salmon on the Lower Yukon are marked. Marking Yukon Kings is thought to discourage subsistence caught fish from entering commercial fisheries. Currently, the law requires the dorsal fin to be removed. The new proposal asks that all subsistence fishers in Districts 1 through 3 remove both tail tips or lobes of subsistence Kings because they say it would be easier and more consistent with other areas of the state. The proposal has been submitted by the Fairbanks Fish and Wildlife Refuge.

Another proposal would limit the number of subsistence pike that can be harvested on the Lower Yukon. Currently, there is no bag limit. The proposal seeks to limit pike to 3 per day, only one of which could be over 30 inches. The restriction would include all waters downriver of Holy Cross, including Paimiut Slough. The proposal was submitted by the Grayling, Anvik, Shageluk, Holy Cross Fish and Game Advisory Council. They say they are concerned that there are too many pike fish taken during the winter in the Lower Yukon River.

Those are the proposals that the Federal Subsistence Board will be considering at their meeting in January in Anchorage. They are accepting written comments on the proposals through June 15.
In addition to written comments, the public is welcome to testify at the board meeting or at Regional Advisory Council meetings before then.

The proposals can be viewed at the Federal Subsistence Board’s website.

For more information about the proposals, you can call Alex Nick at the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge at 543-1037.

Proposals to change subsistence hunting and trapping regulations will be accepted during the next proposal period, starting in January 2013.

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