King salmon run on Yukon River well below average so far
FAIRBANKS (AP) — This year's king salmon run on the Yukon River is on track to be the second- or third-worst ever recorded.
Just over 90,000 kings were counted as they swam past the Pilot Station sonar site near the mouth of the Yukon River this summer, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported. The run has thus far been similar to 2015, the second-worst year for king salmon ever recorded, after 2013.
The migration from the Bering Sea to the mouth of the river is usually more than halfway over by this point in the summer.
Fishery managers expect enough kings will return upriver to satisfy a treaty with Canada and allow enough salmon to reach their spawning grounds where the fish reproduce, the Department of Fish and Game said in a recent statement about the Yukon River.
Restrictions on subsistence fisheries will be necessary to meet the escapement goal.
The department restricted fishers to 6-inch (15-centimeter) gill nets, instead of the 7½-inch (19-centimeter) size in many areas of the Yukon.
The smaller mesh is too small to catch larger king salmon, but is still enough to trap smaller, but more numerous chum salmon.
The chum salmon run is relatively strong this year, and it's expected that a large number of chum salmon will make it upriver because of the commercial fishery restrictions in the lower river.
The department has also cut in half the number of subsistence fishing hours announced in the pre-season schedule for several districts.
Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com