By Dan Bross, KUAC
Another weak run of Yukon River King salmon is forecast for this summer. It would be the latest in a decade’s long trend of below normal returns, and as KUAC’s Dan Bross reports from Fairbanks, fishery managers are anticipating another season of harvest restrictions.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game 2013 outlook anticipates between 96 thousand and 142 thousand Chinook salmon to swim into the Yukon River this summer. State summer season fishery manager Eric Newland says the Kings will be managed based on the low end estimate.
Newland says management strategy will be focused on insuring enough kings get upriver to spawn, including into Canada, an objective that was not met last summer.
He says pulse projection will be extended upriver this year to the Tanana drainage.
Newland says fishing closures all along the Yukon River system will be balanced with limited openings to provide opportunity to catch overlapping summer and fall chum, runs forecast to be average to above average. Smaller 6 inch net mesh will be required from the start of the season to ensure larger female kings are not caught. Newland says the Chinook conservation strategy also has a voluntary component.
Newland says harvest data from last summer shows people taking more summer and fall chums to compensate for the weak king run. The first subsistence opening at the mouth of the Yukon River could be as early as May 30, depending on breakup.