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A salmon savior on Alaska's Yukon River?

Salmon drying in the sun in Kaltag, Alaska. About 200 people live in the small, riverside village, far beyond Alaska's road system.
Photo courtesy: Doug Karlberg, Yukon Gold Fisheries
A salmon processor in Kaltag, Alaska
Photo courtesy: Doug Karlberg, Yukon Gold Fisheries
Yukon River Gold, LLC promised Kaltag it would only hire locals and says it has kept its promise. But until two months ago, the outlook for the company's Kaltag venture was bleak. It's only been able to operate three of the last five years, and failed to make a profit yet.
Photo courtesy: Doug Karlberg, Yukon Gold Fisheries
One benefit of fish wheels is the ability to immediately return unwanted fish to the river.
Photo courtesy: Doug Karlberg, Yukon Gold Fisheries
Most residents along the Yukon River live off of the land, hunting and fishing to survive. Commercial fishing for Yukon chums once provided a reliable source of income. But the when the chum fishery crashed, so did commercial fishing.
Photo courtesy: Doug Karlberg, Yukon Gold Fisheries
A fish wheel at work on the Yukon River near Kaltag, Alaska
Photo courtesy: Doug Karlberg, Yukon Gold Fisheries
Alaska Dispatch

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.

Read much more here.