king salmon

The state Board of Fisheries will consider several Kuskokwim proposals. Photo by Shane Iverson / KYUK.

The state Board of Fisheries will consider several Kuskokwim proposals. Photo by Shane Iverson / KYUK.

The State Board of Fisheries will have a stack of proposals to consider next year when the Kuskokwim area is up for its designated proposal cycle. The 2016 proposal book released last week shows citizens and regional groups recommending big changes to the Kuskokwim subsistence king salmon fishery.
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Marie Andrew was busy this July at her Napaskiak fish camp. Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK.

Marie Andrew was busy this July at her Napaskiak fish camp. Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK.

Subsistence fishing is open indefinitely on the Kuskokwim River. But that hasn’t been the norm this summer, as the river underwent two management regimes —state and federal—and strict closures for two species. Lower river fishermen are adjusting to the new reality of Kuskokwim subsistence—where conservative management is now the status quo.

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The Kuskokwim will open indefinitely to 6" gillnet fishing. Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK.

The Kuskokwim will open indefinitely to 6″ gillnet fishing. Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK.

As of 9:00 p.m. Wednesday, state fishery managers are opening the Kuskokwim indefinitely for 6-inch gillnet fishing. The opening directly follows scheduled fishing periods Wednesday.

The chum salmon numbers at the Bethel Test Fishery have been among the lowest on record. That kept the lower river on a twice-weekly subsistence fishing schedule to bring more chum to spawning grounds. Managers say there is “mounting evidence” that the Kogrukluk River escapement goal may not be reached. Read more →

The state is taking over day-to-day management of Kuskokwim salmon. Photo by Shane Iverson / KYUK.

The state is taking over day-to-day management of Kuskokwim salmon. Photo by Shane Iverson / KYUK.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game will be managing the salmon fishery for the entirety of the Kuskokwim River drainage beginning Thursday. Fishing with gillnets remains closed on the Kuskokwim River and several tributaries.

Federal managers through federal special action took over day-to-day management of the Kuskokwim within the Yukon Delta refuge boundaries during the king salmon run for conservation purposes. They have the ability to restrict fishing to local residents. Read more →

File photo by Shane Iverson/KYUK.

File photo by Shane Iverson/KYUK.

Federal fishery managers are closing down gillnet fishing on the Kuskokwim River below Tuluksak including the four-inch set net openers scheduled on the weekend.

In a news release, managers write that the 2015 king salmon run is still very uncertain and could be significantly weaker than 2014. They say more precaution is necessary until the strength of the run can be gauged. Read more →

An fish rack in Bethel sits empty this month. Photo by Dean Swope / KYUK.

A fish rack in Bethel sits empty this month. Photo by Dean Swope / KYUK.

For the first time ever, the state is opening a brief elder’s fishery for king salmon on the middle and upper Kuskokwim. The fishery runs Saturday, June 20th, from 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.

The fishery is open to people age sixty and over. They can have specific family members help, but the elder must be present when they are fishing.
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Bethel Test Fishery numbers are behind 2014 so far. KYUK file photo by Ben Matheson.

Bethel Test Fishery numbers are behind 2014 so far. KYUK file photo by Ben Matheson.

As early June turns to the middle of June, early season worries were evident at the Kuskokwim River Salmon Management Working Group meeting Wednesday. So far, the Bethel Test Fishery Chinook numbers are behind last year’s pace. Federal In Season Manager Neil LaLonde is not drawing any conclusions, yet.
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Fresh Kuskokwim salmon. File photo by KYUK.

Fresh Kuskokwim salmon. File photo by KYUK.

King salmon are beginning to show up on the Kuskokwim River. All eyes are on the few kings that are appearing in the Bethel Test Fishery and in subsistence fishermen’s nets during limited 4-inch openings. At a Wednesday work session of the Kuskokwim River Salmon Management Working Group, members prepared for more restrictions as the run picks up and a limited directed harvest.

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Salmon on drying racks, Kuskokwim River. Photo by Shane Iverson, KYUK.

Salmon on drying racks, Kuskokwim River. Photo by Shane Iverson, KYUK.

Expecting another poor king salmon run, the first fishing restrictions are expected to go into effect on May 21st. With the lessons learned from 2014, managers hope to bring enough king salmon to spawning grounds and allow for limited fishing along the way.
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The Kuskokwim River Inter Tribal Fisheries Commission met for the first time in Bethel. Photo by Ben Matheson  / KYUK.

The Kuskokwim River Inter Tribal Fisheries Commission met for the first time in Bethel. Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK.

The path to unified management of Kuskokwim salmon stocks is uncharted, but along the way the newly established Kuskokwim River Inter Tribal Fisheries Commission wants involvement at each step. That begins with tribal consultation in preparations for another summer of sacrifice. The commission’s inaugural meeting concluded Wednesday in Bethel.

Another weak run of king salmon is expected this summer after several years of decline. State and federal managers are planning a slate of restrictions on par with last year’s, which brought in the smallest king salmon harvest on record.

Delegate Arthur Lake of Kwigillingok wants tribes to be part of the decisions.
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