The decline of Chinook salmon populations on the Yukon River was the subject of a recent pre-season planning meeting hosted by the Yukon River Drainage Fisheries Association which included fisherman up and down the Yukon River as well as fisheries managers from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The 2014 King return is expected to be the lowest in 30 years, since 1982 according to an article recently published in the Fairbanks Daily News Miner. Fisherman are uniting on a common goal calling for a moratorium on King fishing on the Yukon River this upcoming season. Yukon Kings have gone from a valuable commercial fishery on the Yukon, to a primarily subsistence fishery, and have now become a species to avoid harvesting at all costs. Managers are anticipating drift gillnetting to be prohibited while Kings are present in the river and to have a new dip net only fishery where King salmon could then be released alive to allow to travel to their spawning grounds which will be put into place by the use of emergency order. The use of dip nets as a gear type was put into regulation by the Board of Fish. 2013 was the first year dip nets had been used in this manner in the Yukon somewhat experimentally and this year they are looking like they will be relied on to target other species both commercially and for subsistence purposes. One of the tools managers have in their “toolbox’ is the ability to issue emergency orders on behalf of the commissioner. Regulations that have been put into place by the Board of Fish can specify when this is an option for managers to allow management based on the strength of the run. On the Yukon River this enables manager to follow the run up the river, opening and closing fishing opportunity based on where the fish are located at a given time. This process, where the Board of Fish was established enabling an entity separate from the management authority was put into place along with the ability for managers to make these types of in-season alterations to fishing seasons and schedules occurred around 1960, directly following statehood. The Yukon River Drainage Fisheries Association was established in 1990. This non governmental agency works to coordinate fisherman throughout the drainage with management to provide local knowledge and input and support for biological research and funding.
American Fisheries Society Symposium 70, 2009 © 2009 by the American Fisheries Society, Salmon Management in the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim Region of Alaska: Past, Present, and Future John R. Hilsinger, Eric Volk , Gene Sandone, and Richard Cannon Alaska Department of Fish and Game 333 Raspberry Road, Anchorage, Alaska 99518, USA