The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is closing Ship Creek to all fishing starting Tuesday due to a poor return of king salmon, the agency said Friday.
The closure goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday morning and will remain in effect through 12:01 a.m. Saturday, July 14. During that time, the creek will be closed to all sport fishing from its mouth upstream to a cable 100 feet downstream of the Chugach Power Dam.
In its announcement, the department said returns to the popular downtown stream have been so low that it's in danger of not getting enough spawning salmon to ensure future returns to the William Jack Hernandez Sport Fish Hatchery.
"The 2018 Ship Creek king salmon return is looking like historical returns, which were weak and late," said Fish and Game Area Management Biologist Jay Baumer in the release. "Ship Creek king salmon are primarily a hatchery run; however, king salmon runs throughout Cook Inlet are consistently experiencing a low productivity year and difficult measures need to be taken so that Ship Creek doesn't experience another weak return in a couple years from now."
The department collects king salmon broodstock from the creek. According to ADFG, as of June 28, just four kings had entered the raceway at the hatchery, and only 45 kings were seen during a stream survey downstream from the Chugach Power Plant Dam.
"In order to sustain the Ship Creek sport fishery, ADF&G staff needs to ensure that enough king salmon make it to the hatchery to meet broodstock needs; therefore, the current numbers justify closing the king salmon fishery for the remainder of the season," the department wrote.
Fish and Game will continue to monitor the situation, and said if it improves to a level that can support a harvest, the restrictions could end. The fishery will reopen July 14 to coho salmon fishing.