Tag Archives: Alaska Department of Fish and Game

2018 Togiak herring forecast to be a little larger than 2017, according to ADF&G

The state has released its forecast for the 2018 Togiak herring fishery. The total forecasted biomass of 136,756 tons of Pacific herring will allow a combined purse seine and gill net harvest of 24,042 tons for the Togiak District Sac Roe Fishery. That biomass is up slightly from 2017’s forecast—130,852 tons. “Pretty much as I expected,” said Bristol Bay area research biologist Greg Buck said about the 2018 forecast. “Maybe a little small and a little older than I would have predicted, but totally in the ballpark. So I expect a fairly normal run.” click here to read the story 20:04

Southeast Alaska: Commercial Dungeness fall fishery better than expected

The summer season for Dungeness crab didn’t go so well. In fact, it was the lowest harvest in over 30 years and managers ended up closing the fishery three weeks early. The summer season brought in 1.3 million pounds, less than half the average harvest.  With such a poor summer, state regulation required the fall season for Dungeness crab be shortened to 30 days, half the length of the normal fishery for most of Southeast. So, when the numbers came in, managers were surprised that harvests were not low. Joe Stratman is Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s lead crab biologist for Southeast. “We exceeded our expectations which is encouraging,” Stratman said. audio report, click here to read the story 13:50

Bumper sockeye salmon run forecast for Bristol Bay in 2018

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is forecasting another bumper year for sockeye salmon in 2018. An expected 51 million sockeye could return, with 37 million set aside for commercial fishing. “All systems are expected to meet their spawning escapement goals,” wrote the ADF&G in a news release. The bumper forecast comes amidst debate about whether to open the controversial Pebble Mine, a move that supporters say would bring growth and economic activity to the region. Detractors say the mine would harm the profitable watershed. click here to read the story 08:39

Bristol Bay red king crab quota caught

The Bristol Bay red king crab season finished up last week when the entire allowable catch was harvested. “The Bristol Bay Red King Crab fishery went fairly well,”  Miranda Westphal said. Westphal is the area management biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Dutch Harbor. “A little slower than we would like to have seen, but they wrapped up with a total catch of 6.59 million pounds. So they caught all of the catch that was available for the season.” click here to read the story 17:00

Tanner crab fishery to open in Kodiak for first time since 2013

Nat Nichols, Alaska Department of Fish and Game area management biologist for the Groundfish, Shellfish & Dive Fisheries, says the last opening was in 2013. He says ADF & G conducts an extensive trawl survey program between Dutch Harbor and Kodiak focused on tanner crab in the Gulf of Alaska. “This year we did 363 stations. About 200 of those are in Kodiak, so quite a few stations around Kodiak to assess tanner crab abundance.,, Meanwhile, the Dungeness crab season, which opened in May and June, closed last week. click here to read the story 17:35

Red king crab fishery off to a slow start

The Bristol Bay red king crab fishery is off to a slow start, compared to last year, according to Miranda Westphal, shellfish biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Unalaska. The season opened Oct. 15, and on Monday, just over a week into the fishery, only 1.5 million pounds had been landed. In the same time period last year, the boats had hauled in 6 million pounds. The fishery’s performance, though, is not unexpected, and is in line with what biologists learned during pre-season surveys. She said 52 boats were fishing on,,, click here to read the story 20:29

Scaling back hatchery salmon could mean huge losses for fleet

Salmon hatcheries play a huge role in Alaska’s fishing industry. But what effect are all those hatchery salmon having on Alaska’s wild stocks, which are even more valuable? In Part 1 of this 2-part series, KCAW’s Stephanie Fischer looked at the Wild Hatchery Interaction Study, an 11-year project researching the genetic consequences of hatchery salmon straying into wild streams and cross-breeding with wild stocks. In this story, Fischer examines the economic consequences on the industry, should Alaska ever have to scale back its hatchery programs. click here to read the story 08:25

Board of Fisheries declines request to cap Kodiak sockeye harvest

The Board of Fisheries won’t take up an out-of-cycle request to cap Kodiak sockeye salmon harvests during certain periods of the season, though it won’t be the last time the issue comes up. The board declined to accept an agenda change request that proposed a new management plan for the commercial purse seine fishery in the Kodiak Management Area setting weekly and seasonal limits on sockeye salmon harvest. The request, submitted by the United Cook Inlet Drift Association, raises concerns brought to light in a recent Alaska Department of Fish and Game genetic study showing that Kodiak seiners catch hundreds of thousands of Cook Inlet-bound sockeye salmon during the summer. click here to read the story 08:57

2017 Commercial Salmon Harvest Summary

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) has compiled preliminary harvest and value figures for the 2017 Alaska commercial salmon fishery (PDF 130 kB). Although there are still fish being caught, the majority of 2017 salmon fisheries have ended. The 2017 commercial salmon fishery all species harvest was 224.6 million wild salmon with an estimated preliminary exvessel value of $678.8, a 66.7% increase from 2016’s value of $407.3 million. Of this total, sockeye salmon again came in as the most valuable species, accounting for 48% of the value at $326.1 million and 23% of the harvest at 52.4 million fish. click here to read the press release 14:56

Commercial fishing for Southeast red king crab to open this fall after six years

Southeast Alaska will open to commercial fishing for red king crab this fall for the first time in six years. The crab population has seen a steady increase, according to state surveys. But whether the opening set for November 1 will be lucrative is still to be seen. Joe Stratman, who is Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s lead crab biologist for Southeast, said the red crab population has been on the rise since 2013. “Basically, in the last four or five years we’ve seen improvement in legal, mature biomass estimates in Southeast,” Stratman said. click here to read the story 15:30

Wild or hatchery fish: opinions vary on large pink return

Pink salmon seem to be showing up everywhere in creeks and along beaches all around Kachemak Bay and the outer coast of the Peninsula. Pinks are returning to systems that have historically never supported salmon. That has caused some head scratching in the fishing community, and there are differing theories as to why pinks are colonizing new systems. This summer was a significant year for commercial fishermen in Lower Cook Inlet. Glen Hollowell, area management biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, says two million pink salmon were commercially harvested, double the historic average. click here to read the story 09:10

Salmon trollers get winter season in Southeast Alaska

The good news for commercial salmon trollers in Southeast Alaska is they will have a winter season for king salmon starting up next month; the bad news is that winter season may be shortened this year. Trollers have been concerned over the possibility of no winter season and what low king numbers mean for the future of the fishery. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced September 20 that the winter troll season will open October 11th. It could remain open through the end of December but managers will have to wait and see about fishing opportunity later in the winter. click here to read the story 11:44

Average year for coho harvest in PWS, but prices are up

Commercial fishing for coho salmon is winding down in Prince William Sound. Gillneters at the mouth of the Copper River are seeing a relatively average year with about 170,000 fish harvested so far. While the harvest is typical, the price this year is not. Coho are fetching about $1.50 per pound at the docks, about double the average price. Alaska Department of Fish and Game Area Management Biologist Jeremy Botz expects fishing to stay open another week. click here to read the story 21:07

Some Alaska fisheries had a record-setting year for wild salmon. But no one wanted to gut all those fish

At the outset of the salmon season, fisherman Everett Thompson was looking forward to a banner year. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game had estimated that 41 million wild sockeye salmon would come to Bristol Bay, an eastern nook of the Bering Sea formed by the Alaskan Peninsula. Ultimately, 59 million salmon returned—the most since 1980—leading to record hauls in parts of the region, which contributes 40 percent of the world’s annual sockeye harvest.  For a state that prides itself on sustainable salmon and ranks its seafood industry just below oil and gas, this should have been good news. As the annual migration reached its peak around July 4, Thompson and his deckhands were netting 15,000 pounds of salmon in six hours. Then he got an unexpected call from the plant manager. The message: Stop fishing. click here to read the story 09:28

Southeast summer Dungeness harvest the worst in decades

The summer season for Dungies closed three weeks early in Southeast. I sat down with Kellii Wood, a Crab Biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, to ask what happened.  “How did it go this year,” I ask her. Wood laughs and gives a drawn out, “well.” The thing is Dungeness crab in Southeast are tricky because state managers don’t know a lot about them. The crab are on a four to five year life cycle and the commercial fishery is expected to fluctuate accordingly. But there are no stock assessment surveys so biologists rely on commercial harvests to track the population.,,, Wood says there has been some anecdotal evidence from fishermen reporting light-colored crab near the end of the fishery. That would indicate crab that recently molted. So this summer’s low harvest could be due to a late molt. It could mean that the crab are there, it’s just bad timing. Audio, click hereto read the story 12:36

Kings off limits starting Thursday: ADF&G cites low chinook salmon stocks coastwide

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game on Thursday will shut down commercial and salt-water sport chinook salmon fishing throughout Southeast Alaska. “Extreme management measures” are needed to protect kings originating from Southeast Alaska, Northern British Columbia, the Fraser River of British Columbia and the coast of Washington state, according to an announcement made late Monday by Fish and Game. The region wide commercial and sport chinook closures are effective 12:01 a.m. Thursday and will last at least through Sept. 30, according to the department. “We didn’t miss fish,” Fish and Game Deputy Commissioner Charles Swanton said late Monday of fishing efforts in the region. “The fish just aren’t there.” click here to read the story 14:30

Yes, no, maybe

Only days after over-seeing the deaths of nearly 90,000 Upper Cook Inlet coho salmon in two commercial drift gillnet openings in the belief the coho run was late and strong, fishery managers with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game have changed their minds. An emergency order issued Sunday cut commercial fishing time in the northern Inlet in half and restricted drift netters to drift “Area 1” south of Kalgin Island, along with a corridor near the mouth of the Kenai River. The Area 1 restriction pushes the fleet down into the wide, unconstricted part of the Inlet where it is harder to find the fish. click here to read the story 16:57

Commercial fisheries in Upper Cook Inlet open again as sockeye run continues

Commercial fishing resumed in Upper Cook Inlet this weekend. The Department of Fish and Game made the announcement Friday after fishing had been closed for the prior week. Commercial fisheries manager Pat Shields says the numbers of sockeye entering the Kenai river have been ticking up all week. “We’ve been continuing to closely monitor sockeye salmon passage into the Kenai river. The last few days have seen increased passage. It came down a bit Thursday, but 72,000 on Wednesday. Friday’s count in the Kenai through 7 a.m. is the highest morning count we’ve had this year. So we expect simliar passage (as) the last few days. We now can project that we’re going to end up in the goal range for Kenai river, which is 900,000 to 1.1 million. click here to read the story 22:19

Bristol Bay red salmon run smashes records

Millions of fish and sinking boats: It was a record-breaking year for the Bristol Bay sockeye salmon fishery. The Western Alaska commercial fishery — which produces 40 percent of the world’s harvest of sockeyes — had a stellar harvest, with record-breaking catches and a high price for fishermen at the docks. A total run of almost 59 million fish had been counted in the region as of Thursday, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. That doesn’t top the record total run of 62 million caught in 1980, but it’s still among the top five since managers began keeping records in 1952, according to Fish and Game area management biologist Tim Sands.,, But there were still challenges as processors, dealing with the influx of fish, put limits on fishermen during the height of the season. click here to read the story 09:48

Zuckerberg’s fake news

Seven months ago, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was voicing plans to combat fake news on the social media website. And this week he’s in Alaska doing what else? Creating fake news. But that all sort of pales compared to coming to Alaska, apparently breaking the law, and providing photographic evidence of the crime to your 92,734,686 followers. Granted, Zuckerberg can surely claim ignorance, given that Alaska fish and game laws are often confusing even to Alaskans. They are particularly confusing when it comes to non-residents and the Alaska practice of dipnetting salmon, ie. scooping them out of the water with a big net. As Zuckerberg duly notes in a post with one of his photos he was “tagging along with locals who were going dip netting. I couldn’t participate since only Alaskans can do subsistence fishing.” Actually, the fishery was a personal-use dipnet fishery, but it looks like a subsistence fishery. Zuckerberg probably just wrote down what those locals told him. Whether they told him exactly what the law allows only he knows. But what the Alaska Department of Fish and Game says is this: click here to read the story 10:10

Prince William Sound harvest tops one million fish

Commercial harvests of red salmon reached 378,000 fish in the Copper River drift district through June 20, as the run and harvest continued to be below forecast, while Chinook catches were above expected. The commercial harvest of sockeyes is still trending consistently below forecast, noted Jeremy Botz, who manages the state’s gillnet salmon fishery from the Cordova office of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The good news is that both reds and kings appear to be in great condition and larger than average, Botz said. Sockeyes are weighing 5.6 pounds to 5.7 pounds, and the kings on average have weighed in at about 21 pounds, compared to about 18 pounds in recent years. “They are larger than we have seen in quite a while, by close to three pounds, he said. click here to read the story 13:07

State of the kings

For the first time in years, king salmon are showing signs of making a stronger return to the vast wilderness surrounding Alaska’s urban heartland. While Panhandle runs continue to struggle, kings to the north appear to be coming back in reasonable numbers. No records are being broken, but there are enough fish the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has liberalized fishing in two of the state’s most popular roadside king salmon drainages – the Kenai River south of Anchorage and tributaries to the Copper River east of the state’s largest city. A near disaster had been forecast on the latter river, a big, muddy, glacial stream draining 26,500 square miles of Alaska near the Canadian border. A return of only 29,000 fish was expected, and with the spawning goal set at 24,000, the state imposed a host of restrictions on the fishery before it even began. Sport fishing was closed. Subsistence fishermen were restricted to a seasonal limit of only two Chinook, the more common Lower 48 name for kings. And commercial fishermen faced major reductions in fishing time and closures of areas that have in the past produced the biggest king catches. click here to read the story 09:37

So many kings

With the commercial catch of king salmon off the mouth of the Copper River steadily growing, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has gone all in on the idea that a preseason forecast that suggested a return of only 29,000 of the big fish was in error. The agency on Friday announced it will lift a restriction that limited subsistence fishermen on the Copper to two fish, and open sport fisheries along the river it had ordered closed before the season even began. The action comes amid mounting public pressure for the agency to see the annual catch of kings, or Chinook as they called elsewhere, is shared among subsistence, commercial, sport and personal-use fishermen. The subsistence fishermen, who are supposed to have a legal priority on harvest, started the season limited to two fish, and told they would get only one-fifth slice of an allowable harvest of only 5,000 kings. That whole plan has now been ditched. click here to read the story 10:37

Kodiak Sockeye Season Opens Early on June 1

Kodiak’s commercial sockeye salmon season gets off to a bang tomorrow (today). Already this week has far exceeded expectations, with Monday setting an all time record for sockeye past the Karluk weir. On Monday, a whopping 46,000 fish hit the river, prompting fish and game biologists to reconsider the numbers and open the season early on June 1. Alaska Department of Fish and Game Kodiak Commercial Salmon Area Biologist James Jackson explains that island-wide commercial opening is based on activity at specific rivers. “In June around Kodiak the majority of the commercial salmon fisheries are managed based on the local sockeye runs. And the four big sockey runs are Karluk, Ayakulik (eye-ah-cue-lick) Upper Station and Frazier.” The biggest of those is usually the Karluk River. “And Karluk early run has come in like a bang this year,,, click here to read the story 08:23

Good bad news?

The Copper River commercial salmon fishery ended Tuesday almost 2,000 Chinook over the 5,000-salmon threshold the Alaska Department of Fish and Game set as the acceptable harvest for 2017,  and the fishing season has only begun. Steve Moffitt was at the time reported to be hiking somewhere along the Appalachian Trail on the East Coast of North America some 4,500 miles southeast of the tiny port, community of Cordova on the West Coast not far from the mouth of the Copper. Who the hell is Steve Moffitt? He’s the commercial fisheries biologist who penned a bombshell forecast calling for the return of but 29,000 king salmon, as Alaskans most often call Chinook, to the Copper River this year. He then promptly retired, leaving behind what has now become Alaska’s most watched fishery for a number of reasons: click here to read the story 19:50

King fishery closed

Fisheries managers in Southcentral Alaska might still be wrestling with what to do about a weak return of king salmon to the Copper River, but their counterparts in Southeast Alaska have acted to protect kings returning to the Taku and Stikine Rivers. Officials with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game today announced commercial troll fisheries which catch most of the Southeast kings, or Chinook as they are otherwise called will close at midnight Sunday. Preseason forecasts for wild Chinook salmon production in Southeast Alaska are at an all-time low, a press release said.  Typically, in the Taku and Stikine rivers, nearly half the run has entered the river by the end of the third week of May; however, record low numbers of Chinook salmon are being seen in-river this year.  The Taku and Stikine are transboundary rivers, and Fish and Game runs research programs with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada to assess in-season run strength. Click here to read the story 13:13

Golden fish

Update: This story was updated on May 21, 2017 to include new prices. In economic crisis, there is often opportunity. Commercial fishermen in Cordova, Alaska are at the moment worrying mightily about what the rest of their fishing season will bring given the prediction of a record weak-return of Copper River king season. But what the ocean gods have brought so far are sky-high prices for a higher than expected catch of a thought-to-be struggling run of fish. The first, 12-hour opening of the season was expected to result in the harvest of only a few hundred kings given a prediction of a weak return and fishing-area closures the Alaska Department of Fish and Game ordered to protect areas where kings have usually been caught in the past. Despite those closures, however, fishermen caught almost 1,900 of the big fish, a catch bigger than in last year’s opener. Most fishermen in the Cordova fleet of 500 gillnetters were reported to be getting dock prices of $10.30 per pound for king, but some were doing much better. click here to read the story 18:20

Fisheries board says no to emergency petition on Copper River fishery

An emergency petition that would have increased closures and restrictions on the Copper River commercial salmon fishery that gets underway this week was defeated May 17 during a special meeting of the Alaska Board of Fisheries in Anchorage. The vote was 3-4. The Fairbanks Fish and Game Advisory Committee had submitted the petition asking the board to require the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to publish an additional emergency order on commercial fishery management actions to be taken to assure the sustainable escapement goal for king salmon for the Copper River in 2017. ADF&G Commissioner Sam Cotten responded to the petition earlier, saying that he concluded that the situation did not warrant such action. click here to read the story 08:53

Copper River disaster

This is a developing story – No one seems to have any idea what sort of astronomical price a rare and iconic Copper River king salmon from Alaska might demand when the commercial fishing season opens in about a week – if there are any fish to be sold. The Alaska Board of Fisheries is facing an emergency petition to ban the sale of the big fish in the name of conservation. Alaska subsistence fishermen who are supposed to have a fishing priority but have already been told they will be restricted to a limit of two kings each for the entire season are talking about the possibility of a lawsuit if the state allows the commercial king fishery to open. And even if the start of the fishery proceeds as scheduled on May 18, the opening day catch is expected to be no more than a few hundred fish, if that, given that the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has already ordered the closure of fishing areas where most kings are caught. click here to read the article. 09:45

2017 sockeye forecast weak for Cook Inlet

Upper Cook Inlet’s commercial salmon fishermen are predicted to have another slow season, if the forecast proves accurate. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s 2017 commercial salmon fishery outlook predicts a total run of about 4 million fish to all the stream systems in Upper Cook Inlet, which includes the Kenai, Kasilof and Susitna rivers as well as a number of smaller streams. Commercial fishermen are projected to harvest about 1.7 million of that, the lowest projected harvest in the last 15 years. It’s largely the Kenai River not living up to the recent 10-year average. The river is projected to see a return of 2.2 million sockeye, about 39 percent below the recent 10-year average of 3.6 million fish. By contrast, the Susitna River is projected to see about 366,000 sockeye return, about 5 percent below the average; the Kasilof River is expected to see about 825,000 sockeye, about 16 percent below the recent average, according to the forecast. Better than 2016 – Improving prices – Board of Fisheries changes – click here to read the story 08:29