Friday, May 23, 2014

 

Protecting the King Salmon on the Kuskokwim with Fishing Restrictions

May 23, 2014

 
Area divisions on the Kuskokwim River.  All sections are accurate except for Section 3, which has been modified by bright red line (located at refuge boundary - at the confluence of the Kuskokwim and Aniak rivers)

 

There has been a lot of information given out from various sources and in various formats regarding subsistence fishing restrictions on the Kuskokwim.  A lot of confusion remains.  Here it is in simple terms: The river has been divided into sections (see map above for definition of those areas).  Restrictions are being implemented on a rolling closure basis - meaning they start lower in the river and move up river as time goes on with the intention being to move up river along with the king salmon run, providing them with as much protection as possible.. 
 
So here are the areas of the river, the expected date of closure and what gear restrictions will be in place ( Purple text is federally managed water, Green text is state managed water)

Kuskokwim River Mouth to Tuluksak (Sections 1 and 2): (Federal Special Action)
Effective 12:01 a.m., Tuesday, May 20, 2014 Chinook salmon fishing in the Kuskokwim River drainage is closed to all user groups. Gillnets are restricted to set gillnets, 4-inch or less mesh size not exceeding 60-feet in length in Salmon Conservation Sections 1 and 2. Subsistence fishing with dipnet will adhere to State fishing schedules (AS 16.05.060). Chinook salmon incidentally caught in gillnets may be retained. Chinook salmon incidentally caught using all other gear types must me immediately released.

Similar restrictions can be expected to begin on May 27th, 2014 for section of the river from Tuluksak up to the refuge border (just up river from Aniak at the confluence of the Aniak and Kuskokwim rivers).

From the confluence of the Aniak and Kuskokwim rivers to the Holitna River mouth:
Effective 12:01 a.m., Sunday, June 1, 2014 subsistence fishing for non-salmon species with gillnets is restricted to gillnets with 4-inch or less mesh size not exceeding 60-feet in length and 45 meshes in depth.  Gillnets are NOT restricted to set gillnets in this area.Chinook salmon incidentally caught in gillnets may be retained.

The Holitna River Mouth to the Headwaters of the Kuskokwim River:
Effective 12:01 a.m., Wednesday, June 4, 2014 subsistence fishing for non-salmon species with gillnets is restricted to gillnets with 4-inch or less mesh size not exceeding 60-feet in length and 45 meshes in depth. Gillnets are NOT restricted to set gillnets in this area.Chinook salmon incidentally caught in gillnets may be retained.


Things to Keep In Mind 

In federal waters: Fish wheels are allowed to be used during time when only 4 inch set nets are allowed.  All fish wheels have to have a live box containing no less than 45 cu feet of water, must be checked every 6 hours, and all kings caught must be released. 

Currently, fish wheels are not allowed to be used in state waters during the time when only 4 inch set nets are allowed.  The state is investigating the potential for allowing this... If allowed, it will be announced via news release.

 
Regarding the allowance of 4-inch or smaller gillnets: In the past, fishing for smaller non-salmon fish species has typically been done with set nets in locations where those species occur, typically off of the main channel of the river. Use of 4-inch or smaller mesh gillnets will be monitored. No targeting of king salmon will be allowed. This opportunity to harvest non-salmon fish will be discontinued if this gear is used to target king salmon.






 

 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

News From USFWS To Kuskokwim Subsistence Fisherman

May 6, 2014


The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service published an announcement today for subsistence fisherman in the Kuskokwim area.  That announcement can be found HERE.

On April 17, 2014, the Federal Subsistence Board adopted FSA 14-03, which closes the Kuskokwim Chinook salmon fishery with the exception of Federally qualified users with customary and traditional determinations.   According to today's announcement: "A harvest allocation of not more than 1,000 Chinook by USFWS permit only may take place in the middle of June.  No further allocation is projected for the remainder of the season."

More permit information will be made available to Kuskokwim area residents who qualified under the Section 804 Analysis by late May.

In regards to expected Fishing Restrictions, the announcement says this:

Subsistence salmon fishing on the Kuskokwim in 2014 will be closed early in the season.  During the salmon closures, the use of set gillnets with 4-inch or less size not exceeding 60 feet in length and 45 meshes in depth is allowed for the harvest of non-salmon species.  The announcement then goes on to list actions that are expected to take place in the season, with running closures moving upstream based on migratory timing of Chinook salmon.  Closures within the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge are expected to begin on May 20, 2014.