Alaska again fails to meet treaty obligation with Canada on Yukon River king salmon

From the Whitehorse Daily Star: It's been eight years since there has been a commercial king salmon fishery on the Yukon River in Canada and 40 years since the subsistence allowance was as low as it was last summer -- and this year is looking even worse. The problem is an extension of the chronic poor returns of kings into the Yukon River from the Bering Sea in recent years. Alaska fish managers say they don't know the cause, and it's been years since the U.S. met its treaty obligation with Canada on the number of kings allowed to make it across the border into the Yukon territory.

[Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist Eric] Newland said the final tally at the Yukon-Alaska border does not reflect the optimism and renewed predictions after the run started. ... But the state did try, he insisted.

Newland said Alaska reduced the size of mesh on nets from 7.5 inches down to 6.5 inches, and closed all subsistence fishing to protect the first pulse as it moved upriver, he explained.

“We were happy with that first pulse, the size of it passing Pilot, and the genetics,” Newland said. “And to see such a performance at the Eagle sonar is disappointing, for sure.”

Scientists readily admit they cannot pinpoint the cause of the diminishing chinook run up the Yukon River. In recent years, Alaska has been under mounting pressure from the Yukon to take a larger part in conservation, much to the dislike of the state’s subsistence food fishery, which sees the harvest of chinook as an inherent right.

As a rule of thumb, scientists estimate 50 per cent of fish caught by Alaska’s subsistence fishery are of Yukon origin and were heading to the Yukon.

Read more: Season has turned in a dismal chinook run in the Yukon