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2015 is predicted to be a below-average king salmon run. Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK.

2015 is predicted to be a below-average king salmon run. Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK.

The state is expecting a bigger run of king salmon on the Kuskokwim this summer, but still well below average. State managers say they expect strong conservation measures to continue in 2015 to ensure enough fish make it up the river to spawn. Leading up to the season, managers are seeking early input to make the season a success.

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Kuskokwim River Inter Tribal Fisheries Commission steering committee members hear from AVCP attorney Sky Starkey. Photo by Ben Matheson  / KYUK.

Kuskokwim River Inter Tribal Fisheries Commission steering committee members hear from AVCP attorney Sky Starkey. Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK.

Efforts to establish tribal co-management of Kuskokwim salmon are slowly progressing. A steering committee is in Bethel to sketch out the future of who regulates the river. Kuskokwim fishermen are eager to be managers, instead of simply advisers.

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Photo by Shane Iverson / KYUK.

Photo by Shane Iverson / KYUK.

Alaska subsistence users currently navigate a complicated dual management system of state and federal control. That could expand in the future to include tribes working closely in some form of co-management. Kuskokwim tribal leaders plan to take steps soon toward establishing a tribal commission for the co-management of salmon.

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2014 saw the first dipnetting on the Kuskokwim river. Photo by Ben Matheson/KYUK.

2014 saw the first dipnetting on the Kuskokwim river. Photo by Ben Matheson/KYUK.

The Federal Subsistence Board voted Wednesday to allow dipnets as a gear option for federal managers. Fishermen last summer used dipnets for the first time on the Kuskokwim River when state managers opened the fishery by emergency order in June. Dipnets are a permanent gear option for state-run fisheries. The board is meeting in Anchorage.
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2014 saw the first dipnetting on the Kuskokwim river. Photo by Ben Matheson/KYUK.

2014 saw the first dipnetting on the Kuskokwim river. Photo by Ben Matheson/KYUK.

The Federal Subsistence Board is meeting in Anchorage this week to work through a long list of proposals, including a couple of Kuskokwim salmon initiatives.
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The new Kuskokwim Subsistence Salmon Panel met in Bethel Thursday. Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK.

The new Kuskokwim Subsistence Salmon Panel met in Bethel Thursday. Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK.

A panel is exploring the uncertain future of the Kuskokwim salmon fishery this week in Bethel. The new Kuskokwim Subsistence Panel, includes three Board of Fish members and fishing stakeholders from the YK Delta.

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Photo by Shane Iverson / KYUK.

Photo by Shane Iverson / KYUK.

For the second consecutive week, it’s “wait and see” for fishermen who are eager or anxious for the next commercial opening on Kuskokwim River.

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Representatives from Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula and Canada are visiting Yukon River villages this week. Map from Google maps.

Representatives from Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula and Canada are visiting Yukon River villages this week. Map from Google maps.

Yukon and Kuskokwim fishermen have struggled with unprecedented fishing restrictions this summer and diminished salmon runs for years. But they’re not the only ones: Russian and Canadian fishermen are hurting too. A delegation from those two countries is in southwest Alaska this week to learn from Yukon residents’ experience.
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Research Biologist Kevin Shaberg (second from right) explains the Bethel Test Fishery's relationship with run size and timing. Photo by Ben Matheson  / KYUK.

Research Biologist Kevin Shaberg (second from right) explains the Bethel Test Fishery’s relationship with run size and timing. Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK.

The entire Kuskokwim River is open to six-inch gillnets and managers are shifting focus from king salmon to other species, including a potential commercial chum salmon opening.

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Photo by Shane Iverson / KYUK.

Photo by Shane Iverson / KYUK.

Gillnet fishing restrictions have been relaxed on the lower Kuskokwim river.

From the mouth to Chuathbaluk subsistence fishing for chum and sockeye salmon with 6-inch gillnets, up to 50 fathoms long will be open until further notice. Managers say chum and sockeye far outnumber kings at this point. Managers are also opening up dipnetting to 24/7 on the same stretch. Fishermen must release any king salmon caught back to the river. Read more →