Kuskokwim Chum Run At Record Lows; Federal Managers Considering Additional Conservational Measures
Chum salmon numbers on the Kuskokwim remain at record low numbers, and federal managers are talking about taking additional conservation measures to protect them.
State biologist Sean Larson presented a graph of this year’s chum salmon run at the Kuskokwim River Salmon Management Working Group meeting on July 7.
“It's basically a flat line through the fifth of July. So this is not a pretty picture for chum salmon. They may be late. Even if they were late there, they have some catching up to do to even be anywhere near where we were last year. And we know last year was a bad run,” Larson said.
Yukon-Delta National Wildlife Refuge manager Boyd Blihovde said that this year’s chum run was breaking new ground.
“I think it’s pretty safe to say that the chum numbers are as bad as they've ever been,” Blihovde said. “I think there's agreement from the Inter-Tribal Fish Commission and the staff at the refuge that chum need protection, arguably even more than Chinook.”
Bilhovde said that federal and tribal managers are considering closing the middle and upper Kuskokwim River. Currently, the Kuskokwim River from just below Kalskag up to the headwaters are open 24/7 to gillnet fishing. But he said that action would require coordination with the state, which manages the river from Aniak on up to the headwaters.