Tag Archives: Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Tough Conditions – A windy start for Togiak herring fishing Sunday

The Togiak herring fishery opened this morning at 6 a.m. It has been a windy start for the state’s largest sac roe herring fishery. Gusts over 30 miles per hour are posing a challenge for fishermen said area management biologist, Tim Sands. “The seine fleet is over there, and it’s pretty tough conditions today because of weather. I know some fish is being taken, but I don’t think a lot.”
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game surveyed the district Saturday and concluded the enough herring had arrived to meet the threshold for opening the fishery—35,000 tons. >click to read<20:13

Biologists expect early 2018 Togiak herring run

This year, Togiak could see one of the earliest herring harvests ever recorded. “We’re going to fly our first survey on Friday. And then I expect we’ll be seeing herring by [April] 20th, if not sooner,” said Alaska Department of Fish and Game area biologist Tim Sands.  That would be the Togiak fishery’s second-earliest start on record. The earliest recorded date a biomass was spotted in the district was April 14, 2016. But because of the unusual timing, fishing only began three days later. Herring spawn timing depends largely on water temperature >click to read<16:06

Commercial fishermen hit hard by king cuts

Commercial king salmon fishermen will have a tough time making ends meet this summer. The all-gear harvest limit for Chinook salmon — the pot of king salmon divided between gear groups in Southeast — is about 40 percent smaller this year, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced Wednesday. The reduction, from nearly 210,000 fish in 2017 to 130,000 in 2018, is based on an index of the abundance of fish ADFG expects to spawn on Southeast and transboundary rivers this summer. ADFG is expecting record-low returns of king salmon,,, >click to read<10:36

Seals and sulking salmon are causing a data problem for Fish & Game

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has a numbers problem. A statistical bias in the department’s data on the Taku River — conducted via a “mark-recapture” system for decades — means it has been overestimating how many Chinook and sockeye salmon make it up the river to spawn by about 30-40 percent. The statistical bias is now being corrected by new state-of-the-art studies, Fish and Game says, and much of the issue can be chalked up to seal predation. It also doesn’t mean either of the stocks are any worse off than they have been, ADFG says. But fishermen aren’t buying it. >click to read<13:52

Sea otter resolution gets first hearing in Senate committee, asking Congress to amend the Marine Mammal Protection Act

A Senate committee Monday, March 12 heard from supporters and opponents of state involvement in the management of sea otters in Southeast Alaska. The Senate Resources committee held its first hearing on Senate joint resolution 13, which calls on the federal government to allow the state or a Native organization to co-manage the rebounding marine mammals and seek ways to increase harvest of otters. >click to read< 14:53

State seeks federal exemption to manage sea otters – The Legislature is considering two resolutions, one in the House and one in the Senate, asking Congress to amend the Marine Mammal Protection Act and,,, >click to read<

As Alaskan Waters Warm, Market Squid Extend Their Reach Northward

Market squid could represent an economic lifeline here, and it’s one that Alaskan fishermen are eager to begin experimenting with.,,, Though scientists haven’t yet nailed down the cause, populations of valuable species like king salmon and Pacific grey cod, Schramek says, have fallen to as little as one-tenth of even their 2015 levels. With those populations at historic lows, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game now bans their catch during parts of their historical fishing season. The bright spot, however, is a small, color-changing squid.>click to read<12:26

No kings

Snow and ice still cover the tributaries of the Susitna River basin, but already the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is talking about closing the Chinook salmon fishery for the 2018 season. The agency’s fear for the drainages of both the Susitna and Little Susitna mirrors the 2017 fear for the 24,000-square-mile Copper River basin : No king salmon. In the case of the Copper last year, the state was faced with a scientifically calculated Chinook forecast calling for the return of 29,000 of the fish – only 5,000 more than were needed for spawning in streams located behind a gauntlet of commercial, subsistence, personal-use dipnet, and rod-and-reel fisheries. >click to read<14:48

Prince William Sound pinks find their way into Cook Inlet commercial harvest

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has been conducting a limited study on straying hatchery pink salmon around lower Cook Inlet and Kachemak Bay to see whether fish from the Tutka Bay Lagoon and Port Graham hatcheries have been spawning in wild streams, but to its surprise, it discovered Prince William Sound hatchery fish in several local systems. But hatchery pinks from the Sound are also winding up in the commercial harvest. >click to read<15:24

Largest Chinook salmon disappearing from West Coast

The largest and oldest Chinook salmon — fish also known as “kings” and prized for their exceptional size — have mostly disappeared along the West Coast. That’s the main finding of a new University of Washington-led study published Feb. 27 in the journal Fish and Fisheries. The researchers analyzed nearly 40 years of data from hatchery and wild Chinook populations from California to Alaska, looking broadly at patterns that emerged over the course of four decades and across thousands of miles of coastline. In general, Chinook salmon populations from Alaska showed the biggest reductions in age and size, with Washington salmon a close second. >click to read<17:14

Commercial fleet highlights economic impact of Sitka Sound herring catch

Despite three days of impassioned testimony before the Board of Fisheries in January, not much has changed for the Sitka Sound sac roe herring fishery, which will ramp up in about a month. Local subsistence harvesters won an increase in the size of their exclusive use area, but failed to persuade the board to reduce the commercial catch. Fishermen and processors from Petersburg joined with other commercial interests to remind the board of the economic importance of the annual springtime export. >click to read< 14:53

Cuts in commercial fishing budgets lead to reductions in staffing leading to a potential loss in fishing opportunity.

Budget cuts at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game have led to reductions in staffing in the commercial fishing division, leading to a potential loss in fishing opportunity. Since fiscal year 2015, just before the drop in oil prices that led the state to its current fiscal crisis, Fish and Game has seen an approximately 36.4 percent cut in general fund dollars from the state, coming out to an approximately 8.3 percent cut in the total department funding, or $3.9 million less. >click to read< 14:26

Snow crab landing in Bering Sea

The Bering Sea opilio snow crab fishery is slowly moving forward, with 2 percent of the quota landed. Eight vessels made nine landings for a total weight in the past week of some 471,000 pounds, from a quota of 18.5 million pounds, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Unalaska. The number of snow crab per pot is down somewhat from the same period last year. The most recent count was 201 crustaceans last week, down from 238 last year, according to Fish and Game. “From talking to the fleet, it’s been a slow start for the boats that are out there opie fishing,” said state fisheries biologist Ethan Nichols. But it’s likely to pick up, >click here to read<17:53

Board votes down change in Southeast Dungeness crab season

Crabber Max Worhatch proposed the change and successfully got the board to add the proposal to the meeting after missing the deadline for regulation changes.“I would like to seriously consider this,” Worhatch told the board. “I put a proposal in, just like this three years ago, didn’t get anywhere. The department felt like they had to have something to manage the fishery when it got to the low end. But in my experience and just from what I’ve seen in Oregon, California and Washington, size sex and season for Dungeness crab works and it works extremely well. It’s kindof an autopilot thing, doesn’t take a lot of work.” >click here to read< 10:22

Southeast fishermen seek relief from expanding sea otter population

Crabbers and dive fishermen returned to Alaska’s Board of Fish this month seeking changes to commercial fishing regulations in Southeast Alaska for crab and other shellfish impacted by a growing population of sea otters in the region. Some told the board that time is running out on their fisheries because otters are eating clams, sea cucumbers, urchins and Dungeness crab. Wrangell crabber Mike Lockabey told the board the commercial Dungeness crab fleet is being compressed because of the otter predation problem. “It is acute,” Lockabey said. “It will not make the next board cycle without losing fisheries. Not just area, fisheries.” >click here to read< 18:03

Bering Sea snow crab fishing underway

Bering Sea snow crab fishing was just getting underway, and the first deliveries were expected later this week, according to Ethan Nichols of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Unalaska/Dutch Harbor when the snow crab quota was cut back again this year by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. There is a reduced Bering Sea Tanner crab season, thanks to new rules allowing fishing when fewer female crustaceans are present. And small boats in the Unalaska Island area have a Tanner fishery for the first time in two years. >click here to read<13:03

Alaska fishermen bewildered, alarmed at loss of king salmon

There’s an unsolved fish mystery playing out right now along a rugged, 300-mile stretch of Southeast Alaska coastline: What’s killing off the thousands of king salmon that, at an increasing rate, swim out to sea and don’t return to spawn? “There’s a big ocean out there,” said Tad Fujioka, a commercial fisherman in Sitka. “And it’s kind of a black box.” Alaska fishermen and scientists don’t know what, exactly, is causing king salmon returns to plummet across Southeast. But they’re trying to adapt to the consequences: closures for certain fisheries and new limits on catches,,, click here to read the story 10:20

Southeast Alaska winter troll fishery to remain open

Commercial trolling for king salmon in Southeast Alaska will stay open this winter beyond December. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced the winter season will be open until further notice and could stay open until mid-March. That depends on any measures the Board of Fish adopts in January to protect wild Chinook returning to Southeast Alaska rivers. Historically low returns in recent years have prompted some conservation measures, including a region-wide shut down for king fishing in the summer of 2017. click here to read the story 08:13

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