Village communities of Alaska's western Yukon River delta and others Interior Alaska riverbanks are preparing for yet another dismal fishing season. No one knows exactly how many kings will return, but some scientists believe 2012 could be nearly as weak as the crash of 2000.

Biologists predict a below-average run, perhaps just 109,000 fish. An international treaty requires that the United States ensure about half those fish make it into Canada. Some Yukon kings spawn in Alaska, but many return to gravel beds across the border. At one time, it was thought that the Canadian-bound kings that weren't returning. Now, biologists suspect fish from both nations are struggling and that something in the rivers, the oceans, or both is preventing young fish from reaching adulthood.