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Subsistence fishing opens on Kuskokwim River as a storm with hurricane-force winds is expected to hit

A gillnet on the Kuskokwim river
Katie Basile

Subsistence fishing opens on the Kuskokwim River at 11:59 p.m. on Sept 15, just before a storm with hurricane-force winds is expected to hit the area.

The month-long fishing closure will expire after being in place since Aug. 17. For the first time ever, state fishery managers had closed the river and nearly all its tributaries to most forms of subsistence fishing to conserve the river’s low coho run.

When the state announced the closure, it cited data showing that the Kuskokwim River was seeing its lowest coho salmon run in 23 years. The run showed no indication of meeting state escapement goals for the fish reaching their spawning grounds. The state rejected residents' urging to open the river on a limited basis to fishing, saying that any fishing could harm the future health of the coho run.

As the closure lifts, the National Weather Service is urging people in the region to prepare for the strongest September storm the area has seen in about two decades. Gusts reaching hurricane force winds, along with coastal flooding, are expected to hit Friday, Sept. 16 and last through Saturday, Sept. 17. Bethel Search and Rescue issued a travel advisory warning boats to stay off the river until the storm has passed.

Anna Rose MacArthur served as KYUK's News Director from 2015-2022.
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