“I would call it a great run,” Jennifer Nener, area director for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), said Tuesday as seine boats were given a three-day opening to scoop up late-arriving sockeye off the mouth of the Fraser. The overall run is estimated at 20.7 million fish but a final number can’t be calculated yet because of uncertainty about the number of sockeye holding in salt water just off the river’s mouth.
The summer purse seine season for pink salmon in Southeast Alaska has wrapped up and the harvest is better than expected. The state closed the season August 29. Biologists predicted a harvest of about 22 million fish but fishermen were able to catch about 32 million.
When Alaskans fish for salmon, most are hoping to bring home those gorgeous — not to mention delicious — red fillets for the barbecue, freezer, or canning jar. When the fish are cleaned, the long skeins of pink or red eggs often go overboard with everything else.
Not so in the commercial fishing industry, where salmon eggs — or roe — have become big business. Russia’s embargo of American seafood has been a setback to Alaska’s caviar industry, but demand for the product is growing elsewhere.
The Cook Inlet drift fleet is largely done fishing for the summer, with a catch of more than 2 million salmon.
Through Aug. 12, when fishing had ended in most areas, the fleet had landed 1.4 million sockeyes, 402,138 pinks, 65,678 silvers and 107,299 chums according to call-in estimates provided by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
United Cook Inlet Drift Association Executive Director Roland Maw said the average drifter caught about 18,000 pounds of sockeye. Most fishermen saw lower catch per unit effort, or CPUE, this summer.
Prices are down compared to last year due to the high supply, although not nearly as drastically as buyers had hoped, Canadian processors told Undercurrent News.
The president of a sockeye processor in Canada told Undercurrent sockeye wholesale prices are currently down 20 to 30% from last year’s price due to low supply, but the price is far less attractive than buyers had anticipated.
Region 10 of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is offering an online webinar on Sept. 9 and Sept. 10 to provide a brief overview of the Clean Water Act Section 404 (c) proposed determination for the Pebble deposit in Southwest Alaska.
The presentation will be offered Sept. 9 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Alaska time and from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Sept. 10.
A federal judge ruled Thursday to uphold the federal decision to remove Cook Inlet from the salmon fishery management plan.
Alaska has managed salmon since statehood, and the National Marine Fisheries Service removed Cook Inlet salmon from the federal fishery management plan, or FMP, after the North Pacific Fishery Management Council unanimously voted in December 2011 to officially delegate that authority to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
Out along the rock bar, the current is deep and dark. My daughter, China, and I stand on the uneven rocks at the edge of the eddy, pulling our net ashore, unhurried, hoping for a tasty fish for dinner and no more. It's a tiny net compared to the nets I've been using on the coast lately, and the webbing is old, almost neon yellow.
The Yukon River is having strong runs of silver and chum salmon this fall, giving a boost to fishermen after another tepid summer for king salmon.
Sonar counts on the Lower Yukon at Pilot Station had tallied 233,000 silver salmon by Sept. 3, far above the historical median of 126,600 by that date. At that pace, more than 245,000 silvers are expected on the Yukon this summer.
The 2014 inshore Bristol Bay sockeye salmon run of 40.6 million fish ranks 7th out of the last 20 years (1994–2013) and was 17% above the 34.7 million average run for the same period. This year’s sockeye run was 53% above the preseason inshore forecast of 26.6 million fish. Togiak was the only district to come in lower than preseason forecast with Naknek/Kvichak, Egegik, Ugashik, and Nushagak districts all larger than predicted. The 28.8 million sockeye salmon commercial harvest was 61% above the 17.9 million preseason forecast.
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has agreed to purchase $13 million of canned pink salmon from the state of Alaska. The move comes at the urging of Senator Lisa Murkowski, who says a strong 2013 harvest led to an excess of pinks, and having USDA purchase the surplus cans from state companies would help prevent a drop in the price paid to fishermen. Tyson Fick, spokesman for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, says the purchase, which will provide cans to The Emergency Food Assistance program, was an excellent idea.
Political group Bristol Bay Forever is sponsoring a ballot measure that would put additional environmental protections on the area known as the Bristol Bay Fisheries Reserve. The area, consisting of 36,000 square miles of land and rivers in Southwest Alaska, was established in 1972 as a way to protect the local salmon populations from the effects of oil and gas development. For any oil or gas company to get surface entry rights, they need to obtain a legislative declaration that says their activities won’t harm the fish.
A Juneau-based scientist recently published a study that found climate change poses a serious threat to the Tongass National Forest’s snow-fed salmon streams. On the other hand, watersheds too cold for big salmon runs may become more productive.
Nature Conservancy scientist Colin Shanley, the study’s lead author, said a few degrees of warming makes a big difference for Southeast Alaska’s fish.
Yukon River king salmon continue to show symptoms indicative of low production. Unprecedented fishing restrictions in Alaska this summer allowed over 64,ooo kings to cross the border into Canada. That was enough to surpass an escapement goal, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.
Eligible Cook Inlet fishermen will receive a $2,000 fixed payment, plus a percentage based on their landings history from 2007 to 2011, according to National Marine Fisheries Service, or NMFS, spokeswoman Julie Speegle.
According to information provided by the National Marine Fisheries Service, an estimated 443 permit holders from Cook Inlet’s East Side setnet fishery will be eligible to apply for payments, as will an additional 96 Northern District fishermen.
A state-backed five year, $30 million dollar Initiative is underway to discover why Alaska’s Chinook salmon production has declined since 2007. More than 100 researchers and over three dozen projects are focused on Chinook stocks in 12 major systems from Southeast to the Yukon. Early on, they’ve pinned down some findings -
After an unprecedented two extensions, the summer king salmon season for trollers in Southeast is over.
The Alaska Department of Fish & Game closed the fishery at 11:59 PM Monday, August 18 — two days later than planned.
Pattie Skannes is troll management biologist for the region.
“Yeah. We don’t usually work on Saturday and Sunday. But this was one of those openings that required a little bit of attention every day. We set it for three days thinking, This is going to be easy. But it turned out to be anything but easy.”
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced this week the approval of the first grant application to assist fishermen affected by the 2012 commercial fisheries failure in the Yukon Chinook, Kuskokwim Chinook and Cook Inlet fisheries.
For the last week, from Shugnak all the way down to Kotzebue, people are reporting dead fish washed up on the banks of Northwest Alaska's Kobuk River in astonishing numbers. The fish appear to have been healthy and unspawned. Some have mysterious white welts dotting their backs.
Carolyn Ballot, mayor of Ambler, said when she first heard about the fish, she suspected bears were pulling salmon out of the water, which is nothing unusual. But the huge number of fish washing ashore quickly became concerning. She wondered whether warm weather in the region was causing the die-off.