Fisheries managers in Western Alaska have been concerned about salmon returns this year, but there was good news from the Yukon River system this past weekend. So many king salmon swam by the sonar station that fishing restrictions have been loosed.
Originally, biologists were worried that the king run would not meet minimum escapement. Now they’re confident that they will have enough kings in the river to not only meet the escapement, but also support some harvest. In addition, the genetic data indicates that a fair number of those fish are bound for Canada.
That means fishermen can put their gillnets back in the water to catch the chums, and can keep any kings they catch. The nets they use must be 6-inch or smaller, and the fishery will be on a reduced schedule.
The restriction on using 4-inch gillnets to target other fish than salmon during fishing closures has also been loosened to allow the nets to move out of tributaries and sloughs into the main stem of the Yukon. The 60-foot maximum net length restriction has also been removed, and people can keep any kings they catch.