High water puts Alaska in hot water with Canada over Yukon salmon

ERIK HILL / ADN file photo

Alaska fisheries managers are predicting a more restricted commercial salmon fishery on the Yukon River next summer after too few kings crossed the Canadian border into the Yukon territory this year. Canadian and Alaska regulators met in Whitehorse recently to review what went wrong this year, reports the Yukon News.

The first pulse of fish was harvested this year, and, as a result, escapement requirements were not met, Alaskan officials said.

Next year, they may allow the first pulse to have free passage, managers said.

Free passage for the first pulse was a technique championed by the Yukon Sub-Salmon Committee two years ago. It was tried, and worked.

This year, high water levels and cold weather was supposed to curb the fish harvest, said Alaska fisheries manager Steve Hayes. ...

“We expected the run to be below average, but we did expect escapement to be met,” Hayes said.

Only 31,000 kings reached Canadian spawning grounds this year, fewer than half of last year's count and well below the minimum required under treaty. At least 10,000 king salmon were caught accidentally by commercial chum fisherman in Alaska this year, officials said.

“We’ve had a poor run since 1998,” Hayes said. “I fully expect, based on what we’ve been seeing with these poor runs, is that we will be looking at a conservative type of management next year. I can’t say what it will look like until I meet with the fishermen to come up with the plan, but I’m pretty positive there will be some type of reductions on the Alaskan side of the fishery.”

Read more in the Yukon News.