USFWS Holding Public Hearing On Kusko Federal Salmon Managment

Apr 18, 2017

Salmon dry on a Kuskokwim fish rack.
Credit Shane Iverson / KYUK

Tuesday the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will hear what you want federal managers to do about the Kuskokwim salmon fishery this summer. At the Bethel Cultural Center from 6 to 8 p.m., the federal agency will listen to public input on management requests it’s received for the coming fishing season.

The Kuskokwim River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission is asking that, if the Chinook run forecast is low, the feds close the Chinook salmon harvest in federal public waters in the Kuskokwim River drainage to everyone except federally qualified subsistence users. That’s that same strategy Fish and Wildlife has implemented since 2014.

The Akiak Native Community has submitted a more restrictive request. It’s asking that the feds close all salmon fishing across the entire drainage to everyone except federally qualified subsistence users and that those users be residents of Kuskokwim villages. The Akiak Native Community is also asking that the feds allocate the fish to eligible fishermen, as was done in 2015. That year each Kuskokwim community received a fish quota and designated fishermen to harvest the fish and distribute them to the community.

Mike Williams Sr. sits as Vice Chair of the Kuskokwim River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission and is a member of the Akiak Native Community. He says the goal is to fish conservatively now, so the Kuskokwim can grow the salmon population and have fewer restrictions in the future.

“The reason why we submitted another special action request is we have to still be cautious and have those folks that still have the first crack at it make sure that we secure the future of our king salmon,” said Williams.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants to hear your input on these management requests from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Bethel Cultural Center. Fish and Wildlife will stick around for an hour afterwards, until 9 p.m., to answer other questions.

You can also call-in to the meeting toll free at 1-888-455-5897 passcode 3344290.

State managers are predicting a similar Chinook run size as the Kuskokwim saw last year.