Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologists, using the latest assessment information, are projecting the fall chum salmon run on the Yukon River at nearly 930,000 fish.
In an announcement released Sept. 4, biologists said the estimated number of fall chum salmon having entered the river through Sept. 2 was 918,000 fish, above the historical average of 739,000 fish for that date. Biologists also said the estimated total number of coho salmon having entered the river as of Sept. 2 stood at 164,000 fish, slightly below the average for that date of 166,000 fish. The estimates are based on run reconstruction using the Pilot Station sonar project counts and harvest below Pilot Station.
Commercial fishing on the Lower Yukon opened for a nine-hour period on Sept. 5, with gillnets restricted to a maximum mesh size of 7.5 inches.
Biologists put the total preliminary harvest for the Yukon area for fall season at about 230,000 fall chum salmon and 69,000 coho salmon. The commercial harvest was not expected to negatively impact fall chum or coho salmon escapement or subsistence needs.
Commercial fishermen delivering to Kwik’Pak Fisheries, a subsidiary of the Yukon Delta Fisheries Development Association with facilities at Emmonak delivered some 376,000 summer chum through Aug. 12. At the time, state biologists were projecting the fall chum run size at over 800,000 fish.
Much of the fall harvest is destined for headed and gutted markets in Japan, while other chum will be filleted and flash frozen for markets in Europe and the United States.
Kwik’Pak employs some 225 area residents at its processing facilities and purchases fish from another 250 area residents of the Lower Yukon.