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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 →

AVCP President Myron Naneng speaks to the Kuskokwim Salmon Management Working Group. Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK.

AVCP President Myron Naneng speaks to the Kuskokwim Salmon Management Working Group. Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK.

Fishers on the lowest part of the Kuskokwim river can use 6-inch gillnets indefinitely as of Friday morning and more openings are rolling up the river as the bulk of this year’s king salmon run passes by. In a year in which meeting escapement is the top priority, managers are proceeding with caution.

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Biologists Brian McCaffery, Kevin Shaberg, and Aaron Poetter at a Yupiit Nation Fish Forum in Bethel. Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK.

Biologists Brian McCaffery, Kevin Shaberg, and Aaron Poetter at a Yupiit Nation Fish Forum in Bethel. Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK.

After months of planning and studying the numbers, state and federal managers will open the first six-inch-drift gillnet opening on the most densely populated stretch of the Kuskokwim river. The tremendous fishing power will be aimed at chum and sockeye salmon, but managers are moving cautiously to make sure enough king salmon make it to spawning grounds.

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Bethel Test Fishery early season catch. Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK.

Bethel Test Fishery early season catch. Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK.

At 4pm Friday afternoon, lower Kuskokwim fishermen will have the first four hour opening for fishing with 6” gillnets. This is the first drift opportunity with bigger nets in a month. Roland White is the Tuntutuliak Traditional Council President.
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