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Alaska Department of Fish and Game releases Kuskokwim Bay salmon fishery announcement

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) released an announcement on March 29, 2023. The advisory announcement notes that ADF&G does not expect to open any commercial gillnet fishing in Districts 4 and 5 of Kuskokwim Bay.

This news may not come as a surprise to commercial gillnetters in that region. Those fisheries have been closed for most years since 2016 because there hasn’t been a commercial buyer.

In 2020 and 2021, a single salmon processor operated within Kuskokwim Bay. But the commercial fishing season was delayed both of those years to allow for chinook salmon escapement due to continued low returns.

With the exception of sockeye salmon, commercial harvests for all species in Districts 4 and 5 have been well below average in recent years. And while the Kuskokwim Bay has no formal forecast for salmon returns, ADF&G’s outlook for 2023 isn’t much better. The department forecasts well below average runs for chinook and chum salmon, though sockeye runs could be average or above average this year.

To summarize, ADF&G does not anticipate any commercial gillnet openings in Kuskokwim Bay fishing Districts 4 and 5 in 2023.

Francisco Martínezcuello was the KYUK News Reporting Fellow from November 2022 through January 2024. He is a graduate of UC Berkeley School of Journalism. He is also a veteran of the United States Marine Corps.