State biologists in Southeast Alaska on Dec. 9 issued a preseason terminal run forecast of 26,000 large Stikine River king salmon in 2014, precluding a directed fishery in early May.
If the first in-season terminal run estimate produced in late May is significantly greater than the preseason forecast, limited directed commercial king salmon fisheries could occur, according to the Wrangell area office for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
Post season data for 2013 showed that 423 kings were landed commercially in the troll harvest and 456 kings in the gillnet harvest, plus another 635 kings taken in the sport fishery, said Tom Kowalske, in the agency’s Wrangell office.
The forecast generated by the Stikine River king salmon forecast model produced a terminal run size estimate of 37,700 fish. Due to preseason forecasts consistent overestimation of the actual run size over the past seven years, this forecast was reduced by average forecast error over the previous five years of 45 percent, ADF&G said. Other considerations taken into account for reducing the model produced forecast includes a poor confidence in the 2013 age 1.2 king salmon abundance estimate and the general poor performance of king salmon stocks throughout the region in recent years.
For the past five or six years, the terminal run of Chinook salmon to the Stikine River has been between 20,000 and 30,000 fish, while before that the run had been between 30,000 and 90,000 fish, Kowalske said.
Updated forecasts for the Stikine and Taku rivers were expected by the end of December, he said.