salmon

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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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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The Kuskokwim Salmon Management Working Group discusses the first 6" gillnet openings.  Photo by Ben Matheson/KYUK.

The Kuskokwim Salmon Management Working Group discusses the first 6″ gillnet openings. Photo by Ben Matheson/KYUK.

Four weeks into salmon fishing restrictions, the atmosphere along the Kuskokwim River is tense. At a meeting Tuesday the stress the closures are causing was obvious. But gillnet fishing for salmon is near.

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