Tag Archives: Alaska Department of Fish and Game

ADFG proposes sweeping changes to Cook Inlet salmon goals

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s recommendations for salmon escapement goal ranges in Upper Cook Inlet are out significantly earlier than they have been in past years. Upper Cook Inlet, which reaches north from the Kasilof River, encompasses a number of heavily fished salmon stocks, including the Kenai and Susitna rivers. ADFG reviews the escapement goal ranges for the rivers every three years or so and makes recommendations before the Board of Fisheries takes up the proposals for the area during the in-cycle meeting. >click to read<14:59

Southeast pink salmon forecast cause for concern

As the days grow longer and summer plans start to materialize, 18 million is a number on the mind of many across Southeast Alaska, especially those in numerous industries that rely on salmon fishing. Eighteen million is the number of pink salmon the Southeast forecast shows could be harvested in the 2019 commercial fishing season.,, “Salmon is the biggest portion of my income for sure,” said Stan Savland, commercial fisherman out of Hoonah and 20-year seiner. “The forecast is very alarming. I’m worried about this season because our recent odd year cycles are really what’s been carrying the seine fleet to make it.” >click to read<13:00

Prince William Sound Tanner crab fishery gives winter season a boost

A rejuvenated Tanner crab fishery in Prince William Sound is showing positive signs of finishing out its second season in 30 years. The fishery opened for the first time since 1988 in 2017, operating on commissioners permits. A test fishery operated as an information-gathering pot fishery in the area in 2016 to a limited number of vessels. Based on Alaska Department of Fish and Game survey data, the stocks were good to go for another season this year, opening March 1 and closing either by EO or on March 31. So far, 11 vessels have landed about 16,850 Tanner,,, >click to read<09:37

At seiners’ meeting, demonstrators call to ‘Protect the Herring’

Seiners gathered over the weekend in preparation for the Sitka Sac Roe herring fishery, and while they met to hear updates from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game on this year’s fishery, they were also concerned about opposition to the fishery leading to acts of civil disobedience on the water. But they didn’t need to look far, after a “Protect the Herring” demonstration interrupted the meeting. >click to read<11:52

Governor Dunleavy has a gag order on AK fish budgets, bills

Alaska’s new slogan is “open for business” but good luck trying to find out any budget details when it comes to the business of fishing. The Dunleavy administration has a full gag order in place at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and all budget questions, no matter how basic, are referred to press secretary Matt Shuckerow. Likewise, queries to the many deputies and assistants at the ADF&G commissioner’s office are deferred to Shuckerow who did not acknowledge messages for information. “It isn’t just the media or Alaskans. Legislators are faced with that same gag order,”,,, >click to read<10:27

Hatchery misfits

Scientists studying pink salmon in Alaska’s Prince William Sound have come to a startling conclusion: Female hatchery fish gone feral reproduce at only about half the rate of their wild cousins. The finding, if confirmed by further studies, could have broad implications for the management of mixed stocks of wild and hatchery salmon. Why hatchery fish perform so poorly in their natural environment is unknown, Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist Chris Habicht said Friday. The agency researcher cautioned, as well, that the latest finding is based on data from only one reproductive cycle. The dismal spawning success of hatchery fish during 2014-2016 could be a statistical anomaly. Future studies could find higher returns and even out the results when averaged over the years. >click to read<21:41

2018 Dungeness crab fisheries in Southeast Alaska best in years

The commercial fishery for Dungeness crab in Southeast Alaska was cut short in 2017 because harvests were low. 2018, however, has proven to be one of the best years in the last decade. It takes a while to compile all the data from Southeast’s Dungeness crab fishery. The fall fishery closed November 30 for the most part but a few areas remain open and data is still coming in.But the major areas were fished for two months and preliminary results are pretty positive. >click to read<21:33

Southeast purse seiners to hold another permit buyback vote

Southeast Alaska purse seine fishermen are preparing to vote on another permit buyback, with an eye toward making the fishery more viable in an era of more efficient vessels and smaller salmon runs. The National Marine Fisheries Service is scheduled to send out ballots to fishermen starting Jan. 15 asking whether the fleet should take on $10.1 million in federal loans to buy out 36 permits, removing them from the fishery forever. If successful, the move would reduce the number of permits in the fishery to 279, down about 100 permits since 2012. >click to read<14:35

Upper Cook Inlet King Salmon Fisheries Closed for 2019, Area Subsistence Fisheries Restricted

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) today announced closures to 2019 Northern Cook Inlet (NCI) king salmon commercial and sports fisheries. Subsistence king salmon fisheries in Northern Cook Inlet will also be restricted. The department is restricting and closing king salmon fisheries to conserve weak king salmon stocks. Multiple king salmon stocks in NCI, including seven stocks of concern, have failed to meet escapement goals in recent years.>click to read<19:41

Fish and Game optimistic about 2019 sockeye run

After a poor sockeye return last summer, Alaska’s Department of Fish and Game is slightly more optimistic about 2019. Six million sockeye salmon are forecasted to run through the Upper Cook Inlet in 2019, according to Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s 2019 Upper Cook Inlet Sockeye Salmon forecast. The forecast, released Friday, estimates a range of 4.8 million to 7.3 million for the total sockeye salmon run. Escapement is forecasted at 2 million while Upper Cook Inlet commercial harvest is estimated at 3 million and other harvest at 1 million. >click to read<11:38

Work continues on federal plan for Cook Inlet salmon

More than two years after a court ruling ordered the North Pacific Fishery Management Council to develop a management plan for the Cook Inlet salmon fishery, a stakeholder group has made a first set of recommendations. The council convened a Cook Inlet Salmon Committee last year composed of five stakeholders to meet and offer recommendations before the council officially amends the Fishery Management Plan, or FMP, for the drift gillnet salmon fishery in Upper Cook Inlet, which occurs partially in federal waters. >click to read<15:13

The name is hagfish but you can call it a ‘slime eel.’ Meet a new Alaska fishery.

Consider the hagfish. Maybe you’ve never heard of these deep ocean creatures, also called “slime eels” for their eel-like appearance and ability to secrete huge amounts of opaque slime. Not exactly a mouth-watering description at first glance; yet over the past two years, a small-scale effort has developed in Southeast Alaska to harvest these fascinating uggos as a fledgling Alaska fishery. That’s unusual news in a state where most fishery resources are already developed. >click to read<18:53

Only one applicant for ADFG chief

Members of the boards of Fisheries and Game will meet jointly Jan. 16 to choose an applicant to forward to Gov. Michael J. Dunleavy for the commissioner’s seat, but it likely won’t be a long meeting with just one applicant. Doug Vincent-Lang, whom Dunleavy appointed as Acting Commissioner on Dec. 4, was the only person to submit an application to be the commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. He previously worked with the department from 1999–2014, last serving as the director of the Division of Wildlife Conservation.>click to read<20:48

Changing faces

New Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s appointments to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game are rocking a state agency unaccustomed to dramatic change. Gone is affable Commissioner of Fish and Game Sam Cotten, a one-time state legislator and former commercial fisherman in a land where the latter carries a certain cachet. In his place, pending approval by the Joint Boards of Fish and Game and the Alaska Legislature, is Doug Vincent-Lang, a biologist who spent most of his career working in sport fisheries, which some in the commercial fishing business consider an enemy. And along with Vincent-Lang comes a whole new cast of characters most notably including the former doyen of morning talk-radio in Alaska’s largest city, Rick Rydell – real name Rick Green. >click to read<14:56

New warm ocean Blob could affect Southeast winter weather, fisheries

The Blob could be back. Or, maybe it’s the Son of Blob. Either way, the warm water phenomenon first discovered in the North Pacific five years ago is slowly reemerging in the Gulf of Alaska. Although it doesn’t appear to be as strong as the original, it could still affect weather and fisheries in Southeast Alaska. Nick Bond is the Washington state climatologist who coined the name “the Blob” when he discovered the original patch of warm water emerging in late 2013. “For the Gulf of Alaska, I would say it’s mostly, if not entirely new,” Bond said. “It might be a little bit of a different story for the Bering Sea.” >click to read<

King crabbing set to begin with record low quota

Bering Sea commercial crabbing starts next week, with the smallest quota for Bristol Bay red king crab in over 30 years of 4.3 million pounds, a 35 percent decrease from last year’s 6.6 million pounds. The last time there was such a low number when a fishery was held was in 1985, at 4.1 million pounds, according to Alaska Department of Fish and Game Assistant Area Management Biologist Ethan Nichols, in Unalaska. >click to read<08:29

Chignik salmon fisheries made $3000 between six permits in 2018

The exvessel value per permit has been over $100,000 for the past 10 years in the Chignik Management Area. This year, the entire fishery brought in $3000, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s season summary. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game released its summary of the 2018 Chignik salmon season this week. The Board of Fish already declared the sockeye salmon fishery a disaster in early July. Then the governor declared it an economic disaster in August. This report from Fish and Game confirms that the entire fishery only brought about $3000 dollars between the six permit holders who fished. Audio, >click to read<10:04

Inside the operation that propped up Kodiak fishermen

It was low tide and most of the staff were sleeping, having finished an egg-take shift sometime before 7:00 a.m. The next shift would begin just before high tide, at 2:45 p.m. “We’ve done 200,000 fish already – that’s male and female. We’ve got about 135 million eggs right now,” said Wachter. Kodiak’s hatcheries, as well as those across the state, were originally set up to give fishermen a safety net during years in which wild stocks are low. Alaska’s Private Non-Profit Hatchery Program, however, is currently at the center of a political battle that could see restrictions placed on the number of hatchery-reared fish that are released each year. >click to read<11:48

Cook Inlet fishermen blame rigid management for season losses

Cook Inlet’s commercial fishermen feel that mandated closures played a part in them missing the boat on many of the salmon they could have harvested this season. At a meeting in Kenai on Sept. 28, Upper Cook Inlet commercial fishermen grilled Alaska Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Sam Cotten and Gov. Bill Walker with questions about regulation of the fishery and policy changes to support it in the future. Some of the concern is about inflexible management. >click to read<18:36

Southeast pink salmon catch lowest in over four decades

Southeast Alaska’s commercial pink salmon catch will wind up way below forecasts, the lowest harvest in more than four decades. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s pink and chum salmon project leader for Southeast Andy Piston said the region’s commercial catch this summer is 7.3 million fish. “And that would be the lowest region-wide harvest since 1976,” Piston said. “And our Southeast purse seine catch, and that’s the gear group that catches most of our pink salmon, is about 6.5 million which again is the lowest we’ve seen since the mid-1970s.” It’s not the lowest catch ever. >click to read<14:57

Alaska’s 2018 commercial salmon harvest 30 percent below forecast, yet some fisheries have boomed

The statewide commercial salmon harvest is about 31 percent below the preseason forecast, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said in a statement Thursday. The 2018 season, it said, “has been unusual.” Preliminary numbers show a statewide commercial salmon harvest of about 103 million fish so far. That’s subject to change, because the fishing season isn’t completely over yet. Fish and Game’s forecast in March projected a total statewide harvest of 147 million fish. >click to read<08:03

The mysterious case of Alaska’s strange sockeye salmon returns this year

There’s something unusual going on with the sockeye salmon runs returning to Alaska this year. In some places — like Bristol Bay — the runs are strong. In others, like the Copper River or the Kenai River they’re unexpectedly weak. In some places, there are sockeye that are unusually small. In others, sockeye of a certain age appear to be missing entirely. It’s a mystery. In Southeast Alaska, one of the first Fish and Game staffers to notice an unusual trend was Iris Frank, a regional data coordinator and fisheries technician. Frank’s lab is on the first floor of Fish and Game’s Douglas Island office that looks like it hasn’t changed much in the 32 years since she got there. >click to read<18:06

After a long wait, Ugashik fishermen’s patience paid off

Fishermen in Ugashik Bay are used to their sockeye salmon to showing up late in Bristol Bay’s salmon season. This summer’s salmon season was especially trying, but for some, the wait was worth it. Conrad Day and his crew tow a net into the Ugashik River in preparation for the incoming high tide. He explained, “Now we’ll just wait on the switch, cause when the water floods the fish come with it. It’s like a free ride upriver.” Things are quiet out on the water tonight, but a few days ago the river would’ve been full of fellow set netters preparing for the evening sockeye run. >click to read<17:12

Value of Bristol Bay salmon rises, even as the fish shrink

Bristol Bay’s strong salmon returns stand in stark contrast to other parts of Alaska where the fish have trickled in slowly or seemingly not at all. Statewide, though, fish of all species are coming in smaller. Here’s why. 2018 has been a year for the Bristol Bay record books as total sockeye run surpassed 61 million on Thursday, putting it just a half-million fish behind the largest run of 61.7 million in 1980. Bert Lewis oversees commercial fisheries in Bristol Bay, Cook Inlet and Prince William Sound for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. He’s impressed at the strength of the Nushagak district’s run and even at Bristol Bay’s east-side districts, which came in “late but solidly.”>click to read<10:46

UPDATE: Fuel from sunken vessel closes fishing in Nushagak District

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced the closure of the Nushagak District to all commercial fishing as of 1:00 p.m. Thursday after fuel from the sunken fishing vessel Pacific Knight was observed by air. According to ADF&G, fuel was seen by Fish and Game staff pooling in tide rips. The sheen is expected to spread across Nushagak Bay toward Dillingham with the tide, and presents a “significant chance of gear and fish being exposed to fuel.” The department also warns of the chance for gear and fish to be contaminated on Dillingham’s beaches. ADF&G says staff will continue to monitor the spread of fuel. There is no immediate timetable for when fishing might reopen. >click to read<20:41

Here’s why ice was a hot commodity in the Nushagak this summer

Bristol Bay’s Nushagak fishing district pulled in more than a million sockeye on eight separate days earlier this month. Before this summer, it had only done that twice in Bristol Bay’s history.
Keeping all those fish cool proved problematic for fishermen who still rely on slush ice. Capt. Nick Sotiropoulos of the fishing vessel Flyin’ Tiger said he’d like at least 1,000 pounds of ice for every opener to keep his catch cold and earn that chilled quality bonus from his processor.,, Just over 10 percent of Bristol Bay’s fleet relies on ice to chill their fish. Another 27 percent turn over unchilled fish to processors, and the final 63 percent are drift boats with refrigerated sea water systems. >click to read<14:43

Board of Fisheries declares low Chignik sockeye returns an emergency

Like many Gulf of Alaska communities, far fewer sockeye are returning to the Chignik River than forecasted. Chignik has an early and late run. The combined escapement goal for July 20 is 416,000 sockeye. As of July 18, only 222,000 sockeye had made it upriver to spawn. With no harvestable surplus, the Chignik Management area has not had a commercial fishing opportunity targeting sockeye. Further, some residents say they are voluntarily forgoing subsistence fishing to boost escapement. Audio report, >click to read<13:24

Kenai River anglers ask for closure of Cook Inlet commercial set netting

The Kenai River Sportfishing Association (KRSA) is calling for the closure of set net fishing on the Cook Inlet until adequate numbers of king and sockeye salmon enter the Kenai River. The organization is asking Gov. Bill Walker to direct the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to take action and help Kenai River salmon numbers rebound.,,, One commercial set netter agrees a closure could benefit harvests for both sides. “As a commercial set netter for almost 50 years, and speaking for myself,” Ken Coleman said, “I believe we commercial fisherman have always been in favor of department closures when the health of the fisheries is at risk, whether it be sockeyes, or Chinook or other species. >click to read<08:24

Southeast Dungeness crab fishermen will have full season in 2018

Southeast Alaska’s Dungeness crab fishery had a strong first week and will not have a shortened season like last year. The summer season for most of the region started June 15. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced in late June that crabbers would have a full two-month summer season. Fishermen caught more than 871,000 lbs. during the first week. The agency uses the first week’s catch to estimate how many crab will be harvested during the season. Tessa Bergmann with Fish and Game in Petersburg said this year’s estimate is the third highest on record. “Our harvest estimate for the 2018 season is just over 3.7 million lbs.,” Bergmann said. That is well above the 2.25 million lb. estimate required for a full season in Southeast Alaska. It will mean crabbers can keep fishing through Aug. 15. >click to read<15:08

Bristol Bay sockeye harvest breaking records as other districts suffer

The Nushugak District in Bristol Bay is experiencing an all-time record harvest of sockeye salmon as other districts across Alaska suffer poor returns. “Last year the Nushagak set an all-time record of 12.3 million fish for the year, I just got off the phone [on Friday] with the manager and he expects that record to be broken today,” said Art Nelson, a spokesperson for commercial fisheries at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. “And there are more fish to come.” Other districts across Alaska have been struggling with poor sockeye harvests. >click to read<08:44