subsistence

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 →

Tim Schuerch, President CEO of Maniilaq, Willie Goodwin, Kotzebue Elder’s Council Chairman and John Lincoln, Maniilaq Board of Director’s Chairman cutting the ribbon. Photo by Dr. Ted Mala

Tim Schuerch, President CEO of Maniilaq, Willie Goodwin, Kotzebue Elder’s Council Chairman and John Lincoln, Maniilaq Board of Director’s Chairman cutting the ribbon. Photo by Dr. Ted Mala

The Maniilaq Association, a tribally-operated health and social services organization based in Kotzebue, hosted a ‘soft opening’ for their new traditional foods processing facility Tuesday. Val Kreil is the administrator for the nursing home run by Maniilaq. He says the new facility provides a place for animals killed by local hunters to be donated and processed for elders. The Siglauq is the first facility of its kind in Alaska.
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Chum salmon numbers are well below average. Photo by Shane Iverson / KYUK.

Chum salmon numbers are well below average. Photo by Shane Iverson / KYUK.

The Kuskokwim River is experiencing a poor chum salmon run, according to state managers, and with it, a restrictive fishing schedule.
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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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