Salmon Regulations Announced In Various Alaska Waters

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced several 2017 salmon season regulations, so here is a recap:

JUNEAU (see map above)

In the waters of District 11, and District 15 south of the latitude of Sherman Rock, and District 12 north of the latitude of Point Couverden (see attached map)

  • From April 15, 2017 through June 14, 2017,
  • King salmon fishing is closed, retention of king salmon is prohibited, any king salmon caught must be released immediately.

Taku River king salmon, like other Southeast Alaska king salmon stocks, are experiencing a period of low productivity. The 2017 preseason forecast for Taku River king salmon terminal run is 13,300 large fish. This level of abundance is below spawning escapement goal range (19,000–36,000 large fish) and below the management target of 27,500 Taku River king salmon (the midpoint of the spawning escapement goal range). Given the projected low abundance of Taku River king salmon, this action is being taken to conserve Taku River king salmon by restricting sport fisheries in the Juneau area.

For more information please call the Division of Sport Fish Region 1 office at (907) 465-4270.

SITUK RIVER

Beginning at 12:01 a.m. Monday, May 1, sport fishing for king salmon in the Situk River is closed. King salmon may not be targeted, retained or possessed; king salmon caught while fishing for other species may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately.

The Situk River drainage is managed for a biological escapement goal (BEG) of 450–1,050 large king salmon. In years 2010 through 2012, and again in 2015 and 2016, the Situk River king salmon stock failed to achieve the BEG. In 2013 and 2014, the goal was achieved after restrictive management measures were implemented in the sport, commercial, and subsistence fisheries. The 2017 preseason forecast estimated a total run of approximately 500 large king salmon. Given recent harvest trends, and small escapements, a run of that size in the Situk River is not expected to achieve the escapement goal without preseason king salmon fishery restrictions. Therefore it is warranted to close the Situk River to sport fishing for king salmon.

For further information, anglers should call the Division of Sport Fish, at (907) 747-5355.

HAINES/SKAGWAY

  • The waters of Chilkat Inlet, north of the ADF&G regulatory marker immediately north of Seduction Point are closed to king salmon sport fishing from April 15 through July 15 (see attached map).
  • In Section 15-A, the waters of Lynn Canal north of the latitude of Sherman Rock the retention of king salmon is prohibited, king salmon may not be retained or possessed; any king salmon caught must be released immediately and returned to the water unharmed from April 15 through December 31 (see attached map).

The 2017 projected Chilkat River inriver run is 600 large king salmon, which is below the lower end of the goal range (1,850 to 3,600 large fish). The run projection is based on the numbers and ages of Chilkat River king salmon sampled in the spawning escapement and marine harvest, and on sibling survival rates observed in the most recent five years. When the run forecast is below the goal range, the Lynn Canal and Chilkat River King Salmon Management Plan prescribes closing Chilkat Inlet to king salmon sport fishing through June 30. Given poor marine survival rates of Chilkat River king salmon from brood years 2011 and 2012, which will provide the large mature spawning escapement in 2017, these additional fishery restrictions, are needed to increase Chilkat River king salmon escapement.

Commercial fisheries in Lynn Canal and subsistence fisheries in Chilkat Inlet and in the Chilkat River will also be limited in time and area in 2017 to increase Chilkat River king salmon escapement.

For further information concerning this announcement please contact Haines/Skagway Area Management Biologist, Richard Chapell at (907) 766-3638.

 

UPPER COPPER RIVER

Effective May 1, all king salmon sport fisheries in the Upper Copper River drainage will be closed, this includes catch-and-release fishing. In addition, in all flowing waters of the Copper River drainage, only unbaited, single-hook, artificial lures may be used.

Effective June 1, in the Glennallen Subdistrict subsistence fishery, a total of only 2 king salmon, taken by fish wheel or dip net, may be retained from the period June 1 through July 15. Any king salmon over the 2-fish limit must be released immediately and returned unharmed to the water. Additionally, from June 1 through July 15 fish wheels must be closely attended, while in operation, in a manner that provides for the immediate release of incidentally taken king salmon.

Effective June 7, the Chitina Subdistrict personal use dip net fishery will be closed to the retention of king salmon for the remainder of the season. King salmon incidentally taken must be released immediately and returned to the water unharmed.

The 2017 Copper River king salmon forecast is 29,000 fish. This is the lowest forecast for king salmon on the Copper River and is only 5,000 fish over the drainage-wide minimum escapement goal for king salmon. The Copper River King Salmon Fishery Management Plan (5 AAC 24.361) directs the department to manage the Copper River fisheries to achieve a sustainable escapement goal in the upper Copper River of 24,000 or more king salmon. Copper River king salmon returns have been below average since 2009 and spawning escapement over the last 5 years (2011-2015) has averaged 24,846 salmon and fell below the minimum escapement goal in 2010, 2014, and 2016. Escapement in 2016 was the lowest recorded, at less than 12,000 king salmon. Below average returns during previous years, past performance of fisheries within the Copper River, anticipated subsistence harvest, incidental take in the commercial fishery, and uncertainty over how returns may recover in the future justify closing the Copper River king salmon sport fisheries for the 2017 season.

The Copper River Subsistence Salmon Fisheries Management Plans (5 AAC 01.647), ensures that adequate escapement of salmon in the Copper River system occurs and that subsistence uses, as described in AS 16.05.258 and 5 AAC 99.010, are accommodated. Consistent with this plan, the commercial fisheries of the Copper River District will be conservatively managed to maximize the escapement of king salmon into the Copper River.

The department will monitor the 2017 Copper River king salmon run as it develops. If available indicators of abundance suggest the 2017 run is stronger than forecast, the department will reevaluate these preseason restrictions and, if justified, will relax the appropriate restrictions to provide for additional fishing opportunity.

STIKINE RIVER AREA

In the waters of District 8 from Monday, May 1 through Saturday, July 15, 2017:

  • The king salmon bag and possession limit is one king salmon, 28 inches or greater in length for all anglers.

Anglers are reminded:

  • Only one rod may be used when fishing for king salmon after March 31, 2017;
  • The Southeast Alaska nonresident annual limit of three king salmon continues to apply in this area.
  • Sport fishing for king salmon will remain closed in fresh waters of the Stikine River and its tributaries, upstream of a line between Point Rothsay on the Stikine Flats, and Indian Point in LeConte Bay.

The 2017 preseason forecast for Stikine River king salmon terminal run is 18,300 large fish. This level of abundance is on the low end of the spawning escapement goal range (14,000–28,000) and below the preseason management target of 21,000 (the midpoint of the spawning escapement goal range). Given the projected low abundance of Stikine River king salmon, this action is being taken to conserve Stikine River king salmon by restricting sport fisheries in the marine waters adjacent to the mouth of the Stikine River (District 8). For king salmon regulations outside of District 8 please see current news releases posted at local boat harbors and launches or on the Alaska Department of Fish and Game website.

For further information concerning this announcement please contact Petersburg/Wrangell Area Management Biologist, Patrick Fowler at (907) 772-5231.

KETCHIKAN AREA

Anglers are advised that conservative king salmon regulations will be in effect for the Ketchikan Area sport fishery in order to reduce the harvest of Unuk River king salmon. New regulations and effective dates are as follows:

North Behm Canal
Salmon fishing is closed from April 1 – August 14 in Behm Canal and the contiguous bays enclosed to the north by a line from Point Lees to Elsie Point and a line from Elsie Point to the longitude of the outlet of Long Lake (131°26.100’W. long.), and to the south by a line from the western entrance of Bailey Bay at 55°56.036’ N. lat., 131°37.943’ W. long. to the northern tip of Hassler Island at 55°54.276’ N. lat., 131°37.798’ W. long. and a line from Fin Point at 55°51.256’ N. lat., 131°35.415’ W. long. to Dress Point at 55°51.145’ N. lat., 131°33.748’ W. long. (see attached map).

West Behm Canal
From April 1 to August 14, the bag and possession limit is one king salmon 28 inches or greater in length for all anglers; nonresident annual limit of three king salmon 28 inches or greater in length in the waters of west Behm Canal enclosed to the north by a line from the western entrance of Bailey Bay at 55°56.036’ N. lat., 131°37.943’ W. long. to the northern tip of Hassler Island at 55°54.276’ N. lat., 131°37.798’ W. long. and a line from Fin Point 55°51.256’ N. lat., 131°35.415’ W. long. to Dress Point 55°51.145’ N. lat., 131°33.748’ W. long., and to the south by a line from Niblack Point at 55°32.998’ N. lat., 132°07.228’ W. long., to South Vallenar Point at 55°22.878’ N. lat., 131°52.747’ W. long., and Tongass Narrows north of the latitude of Lewis Reef light (see attached map).

Ketchikan Sport Terminal Harvest Area

  • April 1 to June 30 the bag and possession limit is one king salmon 28 inches or greater in length for all anglers; nonresident annual limit of 3 king salmon 28 inches or greater in length;
  • July 1 to July 31 the bag and possession limit is six fish any size for all anglers; nonresident annual limit does not apply.

Anglers are reminded that regional bag, possession and size limits are different than those outlined in the areas listed above and anglers are prohibited from possessing fish that exceed the limits for the waters where they are fishing. Therefore, anglers fishing in multiple areas must be diligent to ensure they do not exceed the bag, possession, or size limit for the area they are currently fishing.

Unuk River king salmon, like other Southeast Alaska king salmon stocks, are experiencing a period of low productivity. The Unuk River king salmon spawning escapement goal is 1,800 to 3,800 large fish. After attaining the spawning escapement goal for 35 consecutive years, the Unuk River king salmon spawning escapement goal has not been achieved in four of the last five years. The 2017 preseason forecast is for a total run of approximately 1,500 large king salmon. Given that the total run forecast is already below the lower end of the spawning escapement goal, these conservative regulations are necessary to increase spawning escapement of Unuk River king salmon.

For further information concerning this announcement please contact Ketchikan Area Management Biologist, Kelly Reppert at (907) 225-2859.

HERRING BAY AREA

The bag and possession limit for king salmon in the terminal waters of Herring Bay, from June 1 through July 31, 2017, is increased to 6 king salmon of any size. King salmon harvested in the terminal harvest area will not count toward the nonresident annual limit. The terminal harvest area is defined as follows:

Herring Bay Area:

  • The waters of Herring Bay west of a line from the southernmost entrance of Hole-In-The-Wall harbor at 55°19.110’ N. lat., 131°31.187’ W. long. to ADF&G markers located ½ mile north of Whitman Creek (signed and painted rocks) at 55°20.125’ N. lat., 131°30.126’ W long., to the fresh/salt water boundary signs located at the mouth of Herring Cove Creek (see attached map).

The Alaska Board of Fisheries authorized the department to use its emergency order authority to open terminal harvest areas to target surplus Alaska hatchery king salmon. The area opened by this emergency order will allow anglers to target Alaska hatchery-produced king salmon originating from the Whitman Lake hatchery in the Ketchikan area. Projected returns to this facility will exceed broodstock needs, thus a surplus of hatchery fish are available for harvest by sport anglers.

Anglers are reminded that bag, prior to July 1, possession and size limits for the salt waters outside of the designated terminal harvest areas are more restrictive than the limits inside the terminal areas and anglers are prohibited from possessing fish that exceed the limits for the waters where they are fishing. Therefore, anglers fishing in multiple areas must be diligent to ensure they do not exceed the bag, possession, or size limit for the area they are currently fishing.

For further information concerning this announcement please contact Ketchikan Area Management Biologist, Kelly Reppert at (907) 225-2859.

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