The struggling commercial fishery in the Lower Yukon has proven considerably better this year than in the past three years, according to Kwik'Pak Fisheries spokesman Jack Schultheis, the lousy weather notwithstanding.
Schultheis said the weather has been downright horrible, “the coldest, nastiest, wettest summer we’ve ever had,” with temperatures hovering around 38 to 40 above zero. Still the fishermen – some 400 fishing families – have been in a pretty decent mood, he said. Wages to employees of Kwik'Pak plus payments to harvesters have put a little more than $2 million into the region so far this season, he said.
Most of the Kwik'Pak summer run of oil-rich Yukon River chum salmon went into frozen fillets for domestic and European markets, with about 10 percent to the fresh domestic markets. Schultheis said he expected the run to pick up in the end of July and that by the first of August they’d know what the fall chum run would look like.
In an interview from Emmonak on the Lower Yukon on July 26, Schultheis said that last year to date they had processed 180,000 fish, compared to 270,000 fish for the same date this year, but unless they have a good fall run, they will be short of enough fish to meet market demands, he said.