An all-gear harvest limit of 355,600 treaty Chinook salmon has been set by the Pacific Salmon Commission, under provisions of the Pacific Salmon Treaty, based on strong returns in 2015 and projections for 2016 returns in the same river systems.
The announcement of April 11 from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game noted that the harvest limit is based on the forecast of aggregate abundance of Pacific Coast Chinook salmon stocks originating from river systems in the area subject to management under the treaty, which stretches from Cape Suckling, Alaska, to Cape Falcon, Oregon.
Actual returns of Chinook salmon to a number of river systems in 2015, especially to portions of the Columbia River, exceeded forecasted levels, and large returns of kings are projected again this year for those river systems, so that the all-gear treaty quota is much larger that that of a year ago. Figures on the actual all-gear treaty quota from 2015 were not available.
The all-gear Chinook salmon quota is allocated among commercial and sport fisheries, according to management plans established in regulation by the Alaska Board of Fisheries. Most Chinook salmon produced from Alaska hatcheries are not factored into the abundance index and may be harvested in addition to the treaty limit, ADF&G noted.
Of those 355,600 kings, 15,291 fish, or 4.3 percent of the total, are allocated to purse seiners, and 10,312 fish, or 2.9 percent to the drift gillnet fleet, plus another 1,000 fish to the set gillnet harvesters, for a total net gear allocation of 26,603 fish.
The troll fleet was allocated 263,197 kings, or 80 percent of the total all-gear treaty quota after net gear subtractions, and the remaining 65,799 fish, or 20 percent, went to sport anglers.
The summer commercial troll quota is calculated by subtracting the treaty Chinook salmon harvested in the winter and spring troll fisheries from the annual troll treaty allocation. The winter fishery is managed to not exceed the guideline harvest level of 45,000 treaty Chinooks.
While there is no ceiling on the number of Chinook salmon harvested in the spring fisheries, the take of treaty Chinook salmon is limited according to guideline percentages of the Alaska hatchery fish taken in each fishery. Spring fisheries are managed to limit harvest of treaty Chinook, as non-Alaska hatchery fish are counted toward the annual treaty harvest limit of Chinook salmon, while most Alaska hatchery fish are not.
Since spring fisheries will be in progress through June 30, preliminary harvest estimates for treaty Chinook in the spring fisheries will not be determined until late June, state biologists said.
The summer fishery will be managed to harvest 70 percent of the remaining fish on the troll allocation in the first summer Chinook salmon opening in July. The rest will be available for harvest in a second opening, typically taking place in August. The decision as to whether the first summer opening will be managed in-season rather than for a fixed number of days will be announced just prior to the July 1 opening, state biologists said.