Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Lower Yukon Commercial Dip Net Fishery Better than Anticipated

Harvesters on the Lower Yukon River have landed close to 50,000 oil rich Yukon summer chums to date in the river’s first commercial dip net fishery.

“It’s going very well, way better than anyone anticipated,” said Jack Schultheis, sales manager for Kwik’Pak Fisheries at Emmonak, a subsidiary of the Yukon Delta Fisheries Development Association established in 2001. “We bought the gear in anticipation that they would have the fishery and they opened it on June 18, and it kind of took hold.” 

“This is the second day in a row that I did 10,000 fish,” Schultheis said in an interview on June 25. “Last year at this time I had nothing, so I’m well ahead of last year.

“It’s very successful.  The fishermen are enjoying it, and I’ve had some customers down here who just loved the fish they saw.”

Kwik’Pak has buyers coming from the Lower 48 states, as well as Europe.

The dip net caught chums are very high quality, with no net marks, and average 6.4 pounds to 6.5 pounds, he said.

The dip nets allow for a chum fishery while protecting king salmon escapement up the Yukon River toward the Canadian border, in compliance with an agreement with the Canadian government. Regulations adopted by the Alaska Board of Fisheries this past winter allow for this first time use of dip nets for commercial harvests, with any king salmon caught in the nets to be released.

Schultheis said he had 164 people working and that he expected the summer chum drift fishery to open by this coming weekend. Kwik’Pak’s efforts are aimed at improving the regional economy through local employment, training and educational opportunities, while supporting small businesses in villages along the river.

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