Further Restrictions on Copper River Kings as Landings Higher than Expected in First Two Fishing Per
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Peggy Parker – May 25, 2017
In response to a cumulative catch of over 3,600 kings out of a total quota of 4,000 this year, Cordova ADF&G managers are proceeding cautiously for tomorrow’s next fishing period.
Thursday’s opener will be only 9 hours long, rather than twelve. It will also begin hours after an extreme low tide and it will end before the second, less extreme, low tide starts to flood in, usually bringing fish with it.
“[The] king salmon harvest from the first two fishing periods was above anticipated levels despite unprecedented area restrictions, and poor weather conditions in the second period that reduced harvest efficiency,” said Jeremy Botz, Alaska Department of Fish and Game management biologist in Cordova, in a routine fishery announcement on Wednesday.
“To reduce king salmon harvest during the next fishing period, start time will be delayed to avoid opening on an extreme low tide (minus 3.4) when fish are more vulnerable to harvest. In addition, the duration of this fishing period is shortened to avoid fishing after the evening low tide,” he wrote.
The preseason forecast for Copper River kings was 29,000 fish, the lowest since 1985. Sport and personal use for kings upriver from the commercial fishery was closed to protect the minimum escapement level of 24,000 kings.
Commercial fishing was restricted to deep water ocean fishing only, outside of the barrier islands that form the Copper River Flats, away from shallow waters where kings may congregate before making the final push upriver.
The upriver sonar counter has seen 11,520 salmon moving up the river as of yesterday. The anticipated cumulative escapement was 4,632–7,251 salmon by yesterday.
Catches for sockeye, unlike kings, have fallen short of anticipated landings. Catches from Monday’s opener were 52,000 sockeye salmon, compared to an anticipated harvest of 81,000 sockeye salmon for this period. For kings, it was 1,700 Chinook, bringing the total to over 3,600 salmon.
A cumulative total of 88,000 sockeye have been landed so far, about 10 percent of the total predicted catch of 889,000 sockeye.
The sockeye season will continue for several more weeks, but the king season is approaching its peak in a few days.
Those days will be important ones for king salmon heading up the river. The early low tide on Thursday is a minus 3.2 feet flooding to a 12.1 high tide 6.5 hours later. For fishermen at the mouth of the river, that’s like seeing more than two extra feet of water every hour moving up the delta.
But the following two days will be even more extreme tides. On Friday a minus 3.8 and on Saturday a minus 3.9 low tide each grow to a 12.4 high tide in less than seven hours. This is when, if there is a concentration of king salmon outside the barrier islands on the Copper River Flats, they would likely move upriver on the growing tides.
The sockeye season peaks during the first week in June when successive days of a forecasted catch of 16,000 reds are delivered to Cordova processors. Catches are predicted to slowly decline after that, then plateau to daily catches around 6,000 – 9,000 red salmon until late July.
For the sake of the herring egg harvest, Sitka Tribe calls for smaller fishery
KCAW by Emily Kwong – May 23, 2017
At a potluck in April, organized by Sitka Tribe of Alaska, the star of the show is herring eggs. Some herring fans dunk their eggs in seal oil, while others mix them with mayonnaise. For council member Wilber Brown, the secret is a splash of soy sauce.
Copper River managers proceed cautiously after large king harvests
Peninsula Clarion by Elizabeth Earl – May 24, 2017
Commercial fishing managers in Prince William Sound are planning to continue opening the fishery, despite concerns about low king salmon returns to the Copper River system.
Cape Greig walrus are back, ADF&G plans changed fishery boundary again
KDLG by Dave Bendinger – May 23, 2017
Ugashik fleet will fish inside a line a little further south than usual to keep a buffer around newest Pacific walrus haulout in Bristol Bay.
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