The following press release is courtesy of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game:
The Division of Sport Fish is closing the Yukon River drainage (excluding the Tanana Drainage) to sport fishing for king salmon, effective 12:01 a.m. Friday, May 11, 2018. All king salmon caught incidentally while fishing for other species may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately. This restriction will remain in effect through 11:59 p.m. Monday, December 31, 2018, unless superseded by subsequent emergency order.
King salmon stocks throughout western Alaska are continuing to experience a period of low productivity and, since at least 2010, below average run strength. The 2018 preseason outlook indicates that the Yukon River king salmon run in 2018 will be below average, with very little harvestable surplus available. In the past 10 years the interim management escapement goal for king salmon passage into Canada was only attained due to extremely conservative management, including closures or severe restrictions to subsistence opportunity, complete closure of directed commercial fishing and no sale of king salmon caught during chum salmon commercial fishing periods, and sport fishery closures.
Under the 2018 preseason management strategy, the subsistence fishery for king salmon is likely to be restricted with the first arrival of king salmon in District 1. Restrictions may be implemented chronologically in each district with the upriver migration of king salmon. No sale of incidentally-caught king salmon in the commercial fishery for chum salmon will be permitted until run strength is indicated to be at the upper end of the forecast. The use of selective fishing gear (dip nets, beach seines, and closely attended wheels) will be required during the early commercial summer chum salmon fishery openings that occur; king salmon caught incidentally during these periods must be released immediately to the water alive. The anticipated below average abundance of king salmon into the Yukon River, and restrictions placed on the subsistence fishery, warrant a closure to sport fishing for king salmon in the Yukon River drainage. If inseason stock assessment information indicates that run strength will be at the upper end of the forecast, and a majority of the king salmon escapement goals and subsistence needs in the Yukon River drainage will be met, restrictions will be relaxed.
For additional information contact Tim Viavant, Regional Management Coordinator, 907-459-7266.