Of the 11 Chinook stocks in the region, only the Chilkat River is expected to have an adequate number of chinook returning to spawn. Nevertheless, this number – known as escapement – is still in the middle of the range, and could be lower depending on how many fish are harvested before they get to the river.
The Alaska Department of Fish & Game has adopted action plans to try and limit the catch of king salmon bound for Southeast Rivers, but some are always intercepted.
However, ADF&G Assessment Biologist Philip Richards says overharvest is probably not the problem.
“There is some level of harvest for all of our Southeast stocks,” said Richards. “However, in the past five years in particular, the harvest rates have been extremely low for all of our stocks. That indicates that the harvest is not driving the low abundance – it’s most likely marine conditions.”
The 2024 Chinook salmon forecasts of total run for the Chilkat and Unuk Rivers and a terminal run forecast for the Taku River have been completed. These forecasts are germane to “large” fish that are at least 28” in total length and are based on sibling models, using recent brood year age at return and run data along with performance-based hindcasts. Sufficient data were unavailable to produce forecasts for the Situk and Stikine Rivers.
The Chilkat River total run forecast is 2,850 large fish, which is within the escapement goal range of 1,750 to 3,500.
The Taku River terminal run forecast is 17,300 large fish, which is below the escapement goal range of 19,000 to36,000.
There is no 2024 forecast available for the Stikine River as data were insufficient to produce a forecast; however,the terminal run is expected to be well below the escapement goal range of 14,000 to 28,000.
The Unuk River total run forecast is 1,800 large fish, which is at the lower bound of the escapement goal range of1,800 to 3,800.
There is no 2024 forecast available for the Situk River since sufficient age data were not collected in 2023.The department monitors and has escapement goals for 11 Chinook salmon stocks in Southeast Alaska. The Alaska Board of Fisheries designated 7 of these stocks (i.e., Chilkat, Taku, King Salmon, Stikine, Unuk, and Chickamin Rivers and Andrew Creek) as Stocks of Management Concern. Board approved action plans are located on the ADF&G website at:http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=commercialbyareasoutheast.salmon#management