Fish regulations change
Alaska Fish Board sets escapement goals, updates management plans, changes regs
Salmon Escapement goals, subsistence use amounts and Kuskokwim River Salmon Management Plan updates were made for the Kuskokwim Area by the Alaska Board of Fisheries at its meeting last month, according to a Department of Fish & Game press release.
The board met in Anchorage from Jan. 15 to 20. Proposals submitted to the board by the department, other agencies and the public were heard and voted on.
At the meeting the department presented reports on Kuskokwim River stock status, Kuskokwim River king salmon escapement goal recommendations, and options for revising the amounts reasonably necessary for subsistence uses in the Kuskokwim Area.
The department recommended the following sustainable escapement goal (SEG) ranges for Kuskokwim River king salmon:
• 65,000–120,000 Kuskokwim River drainagewide
• 4,100–7,500 Kwethluk River
• 4,800–8,800 Kogrukluk River
• 1,800–3,300 George River
The board unanimously adopted Proposal 104: Customary and traditional subsistence uses of fish stocks and amounts necessary for subsistence uses. Review amounts reasonably necessary for subsistence salmon in the Kuskokwim Area.
The board found the following amounts of fish are reasonably necessary for subsistence uses:
• 67,200–109,800 king salmon in the Kuskokwim River drainage;
• 41,200–116,400 chum salmon in the Kuskokwim River drainage;
• 32,200–58,700 sockeye salmon in the Kuskokwim River drainage;
• 27,400–57,600 coho salmon in the Kuskokwim River drainage;
• 500–2,000 pink salmon in the Kuskokwim River drainage;
• 6,900–17,000 salmon in Districts 4 and 5 combined; and
• 12,500–14,400 salmon in the remainder of the Kuskokwim Area.
The board also unamimously adopted Proposal 105: Update and clarify the Kuskokwim River Salmon Rebuilding Management Plan.
Amendments to the Kuskokwim River Salmon Management Plan were jointly submitted from the department and Kuskokwim River stakeholders to the board prior to deliberations on Proposal 105. The new Kuskokwim River Salmon Management Plan provides guidelines for managing the Kuskokwim River salmon fishery to meet escapement goals and the subsistence priority. Following are the major changes from the old management plan.
• In the king salmon fishery, management will be based on preseason and inseason escapement projections.
• When the projected escapement of king salmon is above the drainagewide escapement goal range, the subsistence fishery will be open seven days per week with unrestricted gillnet mesh size. The commercial and sport fisheries will be managed to provide harvest opportunity on surplus king salmon in excess of escapement and subsistence needs.
• When the projected escapement is below the drainagewide escapement goal range; the sport, commercial and subsistence king salmon fisheries will close.
• When the projected escapement of king salmon is within the drainagewide escapement goal range harvest opportunity might be limited or liberalized depending on available surplus. To the extent practical, provide subsistence opportunity on surplus in excess of escapement needs with at least one fishing period per week. If there is a limited surplus, a fishing period may open during which king salmon may only be taken by individuals 60 years of age or older. When it is necessary to conserve king salmon, the subsistence fishery may be restricted to gillnets with 4-inch or less mesh until sockeye and chum salmon abundance exceeds king salmon abundance. Actions to conserve king salmon may be applied to the entire Kuskokwim River, its sections, or tributaries, consistent with harvest trends and variability in abundance of king salmon available for harvest as the run progresses upstream. Harvest opportunity may be provided in the commercial and sport fisheries on surplus king salmon in excess of escapement and subsistence needs.
• The commercial fishery will be managed to ensure there is no significant impact on escapement or subsistence opportunity on salmon species harvested incidentally in the commercial fishery directed at other salmon species. When king salmon are abundant the commercial fishery will be managed conservatively to ensure escapement goals are achieved and reasonable opportunity for subsistence use is provided in consideration of harvest trends to maintain adequate abundance of king salmon available to subsistence users throughout the drainage. When the projected escapement of king salmon is within the drainagewide escapement goal range the first commercial period may not occur until after June 23; only waters of Subdistrict 1-B may be opened during the first commercial period; and 72 hours must pass between the first Subdistrict 1-B opening and the first Subdistrict 1-A opening.
• In the sport fishery, actions to conserve king salmon will be implemented when king salmon are present, consistent with migratory timing as the run progresses upstream.
The board adopted Proposal 110: Gillnet specifications and operations. Remove the option for gillnet mesh to be up to 8 inches in District 1 of the Kuskokwim River. Adopted.
Questions regarding the regulatory changes in the Kuskokwim Area can be directed to Travis Elison in Anchorage at 907-267-2379. When final regulations are published the department will provide further information to the public.
Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim area fishing regulation proposals that addressed providing summer chum salmon commercial fishing opportunity while conserving king salmon, and management plans for king, summer chum, and fall chum salmon were considered by the Alaska Board of Fisheries Board last month, according to a Department of Fish and Game press release.
Following are regulation changes that take effect for the 2013 fishing season.
Stock of Concern status
The board continued the stock of yield concern designation for Yukon River king salmon.
Proposal 139–Align Yukon subsistence regulations in Districts 1–3 with current management practices, adjusting closures around commercial fishing periods, and allowing concurrent subsistence and commercial fishing by emergency order (EO).
Proposal 131–Yukon River King Salmon Management Plan. Require pulse protection in the king salmon management plan. After initiating the pulse closure, the department may discontinue subsistence fishing closures based upon inseason run assessment.
Proposal 132–Yukon River King Salmon Management Plan. Prohibit sale of king salmon from the Yukon River drainage unless there is a directed king salmon commercial fishery. Sale of king salmon will be prohibited at the start of the commercial fishing season. The department may allow sale of king salmon by emergency order based upon inseason run assessment.
Proposal 133–Summer Chum Salmon Management Plan. Allow for a directed chum salmon commercial fishery in Districts 1, 2, and 3 in the Yukon Area during times of king salmon conservation using 5.5-inch or smaller mesh size not exceeding 30 meshes in depth. This provides an additional mesh size option to allow opportunity to harvest summer chum salmon.
Proposal 152–Open Acharon Channel in the Yukon River drainage to salmon fishing. District 1 boundaries were redefined to include the coastal waters adjacent to the south mouth of the Yukon River from Chris Point south to Black River.
Proposal 240–Summer Chum Salmon Management Plan. Establish times when a commercial gillnet permit holder in the Lower Yukon Area Districts 1–3 may use dip net and beach seine gear to commercially harvest chum salmon during the summer season. All king salmon caught in dip net and beach seine gear must be returned to the water immediately alive. Beach seine mesh size was specified to be a maximum of 4 inches. Dip net specifications can be found in 5AAC 39.105. (24).
Proposal 241–Summer Chum Salmon Management Plan. Provide the department emergency order authority to restrict gear to fish wheels only, require fish wheels to be closely attended, and live-release of king salmon in District 6 during times necessary to conserve king salmon. Additionally, fish wheel construction specifications were adopted to reduce the potential for injury king salmon may incur while being captured and released.
Questions regarding regulatory changes in the Yukon Area can be directed to either Eric Newland 907-267-2217 in Anchorage or Jeff Estensen 907-459-7274 in Fairbanks. When final regulations are published in the spring of 2013, the department will provide further information to the public.