subsistence

There will be a brief salmon  fishing period July 8th. Photo by Shane Iverson / KYUK.

There will be a brief salmon fishing period July 8th. Photo by Shane Iverson / KYUK.

Another subsistence fishing opener takes place Wednesday on the Kuskokwim River. 50 fathom, 6-inch nets are allowed. The timing varies on different parts of the river.

The opening comes as fishermen watch what looks like a very weak chum salmon run. Aaron Poetter is the state management biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for the Kuskokwim area. 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.

Fishermen are looking forward to the next driftnet opening on the Kuskokwim River. Federal staff are waiting for the Bethel Test Fishery to show more chum and red salmon compared to kings before finalizing the next opening. Read more →

The season's first drift gillnet opener takes place Monday on the lowest part of the river. Map from USFWS.

The season’s first drift gillnet opener takes place Monday on the lowest part of the river. Map from USFWS.

The Kuskokwim River’s first 6-inch drift opening happens Monday afternoon from the Johnson River down to the refuge boundary at the mouth of the river. It runs from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Monday, June 22, 2015.

Nets must be no longer than 300-feet in length, and 45 meshes in depth. Read more →

Gillnet fishing is closed below Tuluksak. Map from USFWS.

Gillnet fishing is closed below Tuluksak. Map from USFWS.

There will be no weekend set net fishing below Tuluksak this weekend after managers shut down the fishery to protect king salmon. A scheduled 72 hour opener is expected to go ahead from Tuluksak up to the refuge boundary at Aniak as planned.

Managers say that the hundreds of set nets pose a risk to this year’s and future king salmon runs. ONC counted a large portion of them set near the choke point area below Bethel, known for catching king salmon.
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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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A small community king salmon permit system is underway. Photo by Shane Iverson / KYUK.

A small community king salmon permit system is underway. Photo by Shane Iverson / KYUK.

A community permit system for a limited Kuskokwim king salmon harvest begins on Wednesday. 32 communities are eligible for the permit and so far 16 communities are signed up and a few still pending for the 7,000-fish king salmon permit fishery.
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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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ONC crews in 2014 distribute fish to local elders. Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK.

ONC crews in 2014 distribute fish to local elders. Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK.

The first fishing closures go into effect on the lower Kuskokwim River Thursday. A few days later, on May 25th, the state will put nets in the water. Those nets are one of the Department of Fish and Game’s main research tools for gauging the king salmon run, the Bethel Test Fishery. Read more →

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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