The State Department of Fish and Game has announced its estimate for the Kuskokwim River Chinook Salmon run, and the Akiak Native Community has petitioned for a federal takeover of the river's fishery of not only kings, but also reds, chums and silvers. A press release from the state projects a Kuskokwim king run of between 132.000 and 220,000 fish and says that there "may be enough Chinook salmon to provide for escapement" because the average subsistence take is 84,000 and the escapement goal is from 65,000 to 120,000 fish.
The Department proposes a set of measures to limit subsistence fishing which include an early season closure, net mesh size and length restrictions, live release of Chinook from setnets, fish wheels and dip nets, hook and line bag limits, tributary closures, and time and area restrictions.
A letter to the Federal Subsistence Board from the Akiak Native Community calls those measures "blunt" and "insufficient" and calls for federalizing in-season management to restrict fishing to subsistence users. The letter also requests federal management of the other Kuskokwim Salmon species this year and suggests that the feds use tribal consultation and the existing co-management Intertribal Fish Commission to manage the fishery under the terms of federal subsistence law.
More discussion of this year's management options are sure to come up when the Kuskokwim Salmon Working Group meets in Bethel March 30 and 31.