During their January 11–23 meeting, the Alaska Board of Fisheries (board) made the following regulatory changes to Southeast Alaska sport fisheries. The 2018 sport fishing regulations summary will be published and made available by late April. The following changes are effective this year.
- The Yakutat area (Cape Suckling to Cape Fairweather) was closed to personal use and sport fishing for Dungeness crab.
- The board clarified that a wide variety of gear may be used to take shellfish species for which there are no bag or possession limits under sport fishing regulations. Allowable gear includes: pots, ring nets, diving gear, hand, dip nets, hook and line, and hooked or hookless hand lines.
- The board established a regulation requiring a permit for the noncommercial (sport, personal use, subsistence) harvest of shrimp. The department is currently developing the permit which will be available online and at Fish and Game offices. Anglers may continue to harvest shrimp under existing regulations until this permit system is developed.
- A guided sport ecotourism Dungeness crab fishery was established in Nakwasina Sound, Sitka, AK.
- The Southeast Alaska King Salmon Management Plan was modified to allow retention of other salmon species while fishing for king salmon with two rods from October 1–March 31.
- In the freshwater drainages of the Sitka Sound Special Use Area, the king salmon bag limit is 10 fish, 10 in possession, no size limit, and the nonresident annual limit does not apply.
- Sheep Creek in the Juneau area was opened to fishing for salmon under the Juneau area road system freshwater regulations.
- The board established a regional sablefish annual limit of 8 fish for nonresidents, and harvest recording is required.
- The mandatory retention requirement for nonpelagic rockfish was repealed.
- Beginning January 1, 2020, all anglers fishing from a vessel in salt waters of Southeast Alaska will be required to have in possession, and utilize, a deep water release mechanism to return and release nonpelagic rockfish to the depth it was hooked, or to at least 100 feet in depth, whichever is shallower. All vessels will be required to have at least one functional deep water release mechanism on board and readily available for use when sport fishing activities are taking place.
- In all waters of Central Southeast Outside Section (CSEO), the nonresident pelagic rockfish bag limit was reduced to 3 fish, with 6 allowed in possession, no size restrictions.
Planned Management Actions in the Southeast Alaska King Salmon Sport Fishery in 2018
The Unuk, Chilkat and King Salmon rivers have been designated a stock of concern after failing to meet king salmon escapement goals. The board adopted action plans which identified specific management actions to conserve the stocks of concern. The following summarizes planned management actions for the king salmon sport fishery in Southeast Alaska, most of which will be enacted by emergency order. This summary is intended to inform the public in advance of the 2018 season. Additional actions may be taken as inseason information becomes available.
- Chilkat Inlet north of Seduction Point: closed to king salmon fishing from April 15 through June 30.
- Remainder of Chilkat Inlet north of Sherman Rock (15-A): retention of king salmon prohibited from April 15 through December 31.
- Between Little Island lighthouse and Sherman Rock (15-C) and Berners Bay (15-B): retention of king salmon prohibited from April 15 through June 14.
- Point Couverden north to the Little Island lighthouse (12-B), waters near Juneau (11-A), waters of Stephens Passage, Taku Inlet, Tracy Arm, and Endicott Arm (11-B and 11-C): retention of king salmon prohibited from April 15 through June 14.
- Seymour Canal (11-D): closed to king salmon fishing from April 15 through June 30.
- If surplus hatchery king salmon return to the DIPAC Hatchery, opportunity in the designated sport terminal harvest area may be increased between June 15 and August 31.
Petersburg and Wrangell
- The marine waters of District 8 and a portion of District 7 between Babbler Point and Madan Bay: closed to the retention of king salmon from May 1 through July 15.
- A small area inside of District 8, immediately adjacent to City Creek: open to king salmon fishing from June 1 through July 31 to target Alaska hatchery king salmon returning to this location.
- Wrangell Narrows/Blind Slough terminal harvest area: sport fishing opportunity may be increased from June 1 through July 31 to target surplus returning Alaska hatchery king salmon.
- Northern and eastern Behm Canal: closed to salmon fishing year-round.
- A portion of West Behm Canal, Southeast Behm Canal and South Revilla Channel: closed to king salmon retention from April 1 through August 14.
- The Ketchikan Sport Terminal Harvest area will not be liberalized.
- A small area inside Herring Bay: open from June 1 through July 31 with a bag and possession limit of 6 king salmon any size, which do not count towards the nonresident annual limit.
- In the remaining marine waters of the Ketchikan area, including Neets Bay: bag limit of 1 king salmon for all anglers; nonresident annual limit of 3 king salmon. The nonresident annual limit is subject to change if a more restrictive annual limit is established under the Southeast Alaska King Salmon Management Plan.
All other marine waters in Southeast Alaska
With the exception of some hatchery terminal harvest areas, other marine waters will be managed under the regional bag, possession, and annual limits prescribed by the Southeast Alaska King Salmon Management Plan. This plan prescribes management measures based upon the preseason abundance index determined by the Chinook Technical Committee of the Pacific Salmon Commission. The abundance index has not yet been established for the 2018 season. Regional king salmon bag, possession and annual limits will be announced once the abundance index has been established.
For further information regarding sport fisheries in Southeast Alaska, contact the nearest ADF&G office or visit: http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=SportByAreasoutheast.main