Community development quota processors of the Yukon River’s salmon catch are upbeat about the upcoming keta salmon commercial fishery, buoyed by state forecasts of an average to above average harvest for summer and fall chums.
From what he’s heard, says Jack Schultheis, general manager of Kwik’Pak Fisheries at Emmonak, prices will be at the same level as last year.
Kwik’Pak Fisheries, established by the Yukon Delta Fisheries Development Association in 2001, is a community development quota entity serving a predominantly Yup’ik Eskimo population.
Customers are willing to pay the premium for the oil–rich Yukon River keta salmon, said Schultheis.
Kwik’Pak’s customers are folks who have visited the fishery, become enamored with the Yup’ik Eskimo culture, recognize the effort needed to produce such a good product, and want to support that effort, he said.
“So we have a handful of really good companies,” he said.
Kwik’Pak also is working with contacts in Alaska to get its keta salmon into Alaska supermarkets, hotels, onto the Alaska Railroad menu during the visitor season, and into hospitals in Western Alaska, he said.
In order to avoid large numbers of Yukon River Chinook salmon headed for the Canadian border under a treaty agreement, Kwik'Pak harvesters will begin the fishery using dip nets, then switch to driftnets in late June.
With the summer commercial chum salmon fishery on the Yukon set to begin about June 10, ADFG officials had already restricted gillnets to six-inch mesh size or smaller, and closed subsistence fishing for salmon on the northern portion of the coast district and districts 1 and 2, eliminating the majority of subsistence harvest of king salmon.
A run timing forecast for Chinook salmon on the Yukon River, issued June 2 by the Alaska Fisheries Science Center estimated the first significant pulse of Chinook salmon to cross the Yukon River Delta would come around June 15.
The half way point of that run is expected to occur around June 23, the report said.