subsistence fishing

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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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 →

Test fish bound for the Bethel Senior Center. Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK.

Test fish bound for the Bethel Senior Center. Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK.

The Bethel Test Fishery put nets in the water five days early this year. With no salmon fishing happening in the early season, the test data will be central to understanding the strength of the king run and helping managers decide when to open up for other species.

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"Charlie" Brown from Eek shares information about the lower Kuskokwim at a meeting for the Kuskokwim Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK.

“Charlie” Brown from Eek shares information about the lower Kuskokwim at a meeting for the Kuskokwim Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK.

Tribal representatives took the first steps on Wednesday towards establishing the Kuskokwim River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. The group intends to push for co-management of salmon stocks and more direct involvement for tribal fisherman.

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Federal management responsibility map, from Office of Subsistence Management.

Federal management responsibility map, from Office of Subsistence Management.

The Federal Subsistence Board Thursday unanimously approved a special action request from the Napaskiak Traditional Council that would limit any available king salmon to federally qualified subsistence users of 32 specific Kuskokwim communities.

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KRSMWG members discuss possible fishing schedules. Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK.

KRSMWG members discuss possible fishing schedules. Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK.

Two months before what would normally be time for king salmon fishing, Kuskokwim residents have a sketch of what the summer’s conservation measures will look like. There will be no directed king salmon fishing and the season will start closed for subsistence salmon fishing. As for the chum and red salmon openenings, managers are setting no hard dates for the first gillnet opening, other than it’s anticipated in last week of June. The Kuskokwim River Salmon Management Working Group last week painstakingly came to a consensus on conservation measures.

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The summer of 2014 promises to be a fishing season unlike any others. As managers attempt to preserve the King Salmon run for future years, fisherman can expect to start the season closed to subsistence salmon fishing. There could be new gear, due to the recent approval of dipnets. Against a background of unknowns,the Kuskokwim River Salmon Management Working Group will attempt this week to nail down a plan for the summer.

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