Yukon River Salmon In-Season Management Teleconference Summary – Call #1 Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Background: In-season salmon management teleconferences are held Tuesdays in June, July, and August for fishing villages and managers in the Yukon River drainage to discuss fishing conditions and management strategies as the salmon run is occurring. The teleconferences are funded by the Office of Subsistence Management and the Yukon River Panel.

Call summary: The call started with a discussion on salmon bycatch in the Bering Sea and was presented by Nicole Kimball, the Federal Fisheries Coordinator in the Commissioner’s office for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) and Diana Stram, Plan Coordinator for the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (the Council). They discussed the Council’s role and work on salmon bycatch in the Bering Sea, reviewed current Chinook salmon bycatch numbers, observer coverage in the pollock fishery, current management measures and next steps the Council is taking to review Chinook salmon bycatch.

Staff representatives from Senator Begich’s office discussed their plans for the Magnuson-Stevens Act reauthorization. Listening sessions have already started to take place and will continue with one in Fairbanks on July 3 to talk about subsistence fisheries issues. Stay tuned for more information about this meeting and other hearings planned in near future.

Eric Newland with the ADF&G gave an update on the 2013 fisheries outlook for Chinook salmon.

Public comments, questions, and answers:
Is there an Elders only program on the Yukon River for certain fishing times and gear? Management said that no, there are no exceptions for Elders to fish on the Yukon River. Any radio ads people may be hearing are for the Kuskokwim River.

People in the lower river asked about the start of the schedule and if the start can be delayed because there is still ice and breakup occurring on the lower river Y-1 fishing district. Management said that people could still use 6 inch or smaller nets to go Sheefish fishing and that they were leaving the schedule as is to stay consistent.

People inquired about the sonar program, the locations of sonar and plans for new sites. Additional comments were made about the need to conserve the critical Chinook salmon of the Yukon River.

For further information, please contact the Yukon River Drainage Fisheries Association at 907-272-3141, extension 102 for Jill Klein or look for us on the web at www.yukonsalmon.org.

For information on the Alaskan fishing schedule, call the toll-free number of 1-866-479-7387. All teleconferences are scheduled for Tuesday at 1 p.m. Alaska time (2 p.m. Yukon time) during June, July and August. The toll free number is 1-800-315-6338 and the code is 98566#.

Yukon River Salmon In-Season Management Teleconference Summary – Call #2 Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Background: In-season salmon management teleconferences are held Tuesdays in June, July, and August for fishing villages and managers in the Yukon River drainage to discuss fishing conditions and management strategies as the salmon run is occurring. The teleconferences are funded by the Office of Subsistence Management and the Yukon River Panel.

Villages Reporting: Hooper Bay, Alakanuk, Emmonak, Pilot Station, Russian Mission, Nulato, Huslia, Galena, Nenana, Fort Yukon, Eagle.

Call summary: The call opened with village identification and reports on fishing and river conditions starting at the coast of the Yukon River mouth in Hooper Bay which reported people catching kings and chums this past week. Alakanuk reported that people have been catching some nice bright chums and maybe some kings too. People are just getting started in Emmonak with chums and there is not too much debris and it is warming up. From Pilot Station on up the river there were reports of higher water that is dropping in some places and little to high levels of driftwood in the river. People reported fishing for sheefish, whitefish and pike.

Management discussion:
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) reviewed why they were using 6 inch mesh nets as opposed to the 7.5 mesh nets that were supplied to the public in response to a reduction in mesh size from the Alaska State Board of Fisheries in 2011. The 7.5-inch mesh size gillnets are intended to target Chinook salmon, while allowing the larger and older females through to the spawning grounds. However, 7.5-inch mesh size gillnets still catch a lot of Chinook salmon overall. The 6-inch restriction is intended to minimize the overall harvest of Chinook salmon while allowing for harvest opportunity of smaller Chinook and summer chum salmon. Most management efforts during the summer season are being taken to conserve Chinook salmon while trying to allow for the harvest of other species like summer chum salmon. ADF&G also discussed the importance of filling in the subsistence catch calendars that are mailed to fishing households and asked people to record their harvests; sending back their calendars will enter them into a cash prize raffle.

ADF&G reviewed their preseason outlook, the status of test fisheries, their assessment and strategy to date. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) Canada said they will be going into the season with a conservative approach. If the fish come in at the low end of the range, they are prepared to harvest only 25% of their usual harvests and some First Nations have taken this further to voluntarily limit all harvests of Chinook salmon due to the low returns.

Public comments, questions, and answers:
People talked about the way the fishery would be managed and there was a discussion related to ensuring that fairness in fishing closures takes place all along the river. It was asked if there would be fish for the Elders and ADF&G mentioned the opportunity to fish for king salmon before and after the pulse closures; there will be limited opportunity to access king salmon.

Closures on the Tanana River were discussed and some Tanana representatives mentioned that their Chinook stocks do not go to Canada, but that the Chena River numbers have been low and there is the need to protect those stocks as well through management and possibly additional research projects. Tanana folks commended the Canadians for their conservation efforts.

It was asked if anybody was going to replace the newly distributed 7.5 inch nets with 6 inch nets and Tanana Chiefs Conference responded that they tried last year for disaster funds, but they did not become available; they recognize the hardship but there are not funds to buy new nets right now to distribute to people on the river

It was brought up that meaningful input should be accommodated on the teleconferences from local people and USFWS responded by agreeing with this and that if there is not adequate time on the calls people can get in touch directly with them.

Salmon bycatch was raised again as an important issue to address. We are taking all comments and preparing for a call in July to specifically address the topic of salmon bycatch.

Additional Information:
For information on the Alaskan fishing schedule, call the toll-free number of 1-866-479-7387.

For news releases, fishery announcements and updates from the Alaska Department of Fish Game, click here to visit their website.

For further information about these teleconferences, please contact the Yukon River Drainage Fisheries Association at 907-272-3141, extension 102 for Jill Klein or look for us on the web at www.yukonsalmon.org.

All teleconferences are scheduled for Tuesday at 1 p.m. Alaska time (2 p.m. Yukon time) during June, July and August. The toll free number is 1-800-315-6338 and the code is 98566#.

Yukon River Salmon In-Season Management Teleconference Summary – Call #3 Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Background: In-season salmon management teleconferences are held Tuesdays in June, July, and August for fishing villages and managers in the Yukon River drainage to discuss fishing conditions and management strategies as the salmon run is occurring. The teleconferences are funded by the Office of Subsistence Management and the Yukon River Panel.

Villages / Locations Reporting: Hooper Bay, Scammon Bay, Alakanuk, St. Mary’s, Marshall, Russian Mission, Holy Cross, Shageluk, Nulato, Koyukuk, Huslia, Allakaket, Galena, Tanana and the rapids, Minto, Nenana, Fairbanks, Fort Yukon, Dawson, Teslin.

Fishing reports: The call opened with village identification and reports on fishing and river conditions starting at the coast of the Yukon River mouth in Hooper Bay which reported people having to take their nets out of the water because they had too much fish (chums). Scammon Bay reported that people have caught a lot of chum since the late break up occurred. Most people quit fishing now. A lot of chums are going through and will be moving up river. Alakanuk reported fishing efforts leading to approximately 100 – 200 chums being caught and 1-4 kings. Water is still high there with some debris. A person from Saint Mary’s reported being done with their chum fishing and only caught 1 king. Marshall and Russian Mission said people caught chum salmon, the debris is still in the river but less than last week and the water is high. Russian Mission said people do not have the 6 inch nets required by management for fishing. 2 salmon were caught 30 miles below Holy Cross and Shageluk will not begin fishing until they hear reports of fishing in Holy Cross. Nulato and Koyukuk mentioned water dropping there, but the effort is only on rod and reel and whitefish nets. Huslia also reported pike and whitefish fishing and the water is low. The flow of water into Alexander Lake has stopped since the flood in Galena and in Tanana the water is dropping and people are fishing whitefish for dogs. At the rapids, the fish wheels are just being moved into place now that the water level has dropped. The Tanana River is just waiting for fish. Fort Yukon reported that the water level also dropped and fishing effort was on whitefish. Canadian communities of Dawson and Teslin mentioned high water that was holding.

Management report: The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) reviewed the status of test fisheries, their assessment and strategy to date. The test fisheries are not tracking well due to high water and debris. The first pulse should show up in the next couple of days. Fred Bue of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service mentioned that the herring run was late too.

For an automated update on the fishing schedule, call the toll free number of 1-866-479-7387.

For the most current fisheries updates from the ADF&G, please click here to visit their website.

Public comments, questions, and answers:
People asked about the commercial fisheries directed at summer chum taking place with beach seines and dip nets. They wanted to know the reasons why this fishery was taking place and they asked for an update of the fisheries efforts on the next teleconference such as information on the number of summer chum caught and the any incidental king salmon that were caught and released. A caller thought that the ADF&G was not listening to local people about this fishery and that local people have never used beach seines or dip nets before and that traditional commercial fisheries were for king salmon which he would prefer. Another caller expressed concern over the fishery and potential harm to king salmon and commercial interests are the reason behind this. It was explained that the new gear types are being tried to allow for some commercial fishing to take place on summer chum salmon and all kings must be released live into the water.

People asked about fishing regulations and when proposals would be due to the federal subsistence board. USFWS responded that it would be in the winter or spring and the exact date was unknown at this time.

A day of prayer for the river was mentioned and people can find more information about this on the Tanana Chiefs Conference website. It is scheduled for Friday June 21, 1013 at noon.

People discussed the first pulse closures and how many days they may be closed. A complete moratorium for one year was discussed with some people supporting this as the only way to save the salmon. The first pulse closures will happen chronologically up the river starting in Y-1 and people in Y-1 should be on stand-by for the first pulse closure to happen soon, but no first pulse has been detected yet by the test fisheries.

Tanana Chiefs Conference mentioned that 6 inch nets could be purchased by wildlife and parks funds if Tribes need a net for fishing.

It was mentioned that language coming from ADF&G and USFWS should be filtered and adjusted to remove any college level jargon that people from the Yukon River may not understand and to try to write more culturally appropriate language for people.

Additional Information:
For further information about these teleconferences, please contact the Yukon River Drainage Fisheries Association at 907-272-3141, extension 102 for Jill Klein or look for us on the web at www.yukonsalmon.org.

All teleconferences are scheduled for Tuesday at 1 p.m. Alaska time (2 p.m. Yukon time) during June, July and August. The toll free number is 1-800-315-6338 and the code is 98566#.

Yukon River Salmon In-Season Management Teleconference Summary – Call #4 Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Background: In-season salmon management teleconferences are held Tuesdays in June, July, and August for fishing villages and managers in the Yukon River drainage to discuss fishing conditions and management strategies as the salmon run is occurring. The teleconferences are funded by the Office of Subsistence Management and the Yukon River Panel.

Villages / Locations Reporting: Alakanuk, Kotlik, Marshall, Russian Mission, Holy Cross, Nulato, Koyukuk, Huslia, Galena, Tanana rapids, Rampart, Minto, Nenana, Fairbanks, Circle, Eagle, Dawson.

Fishing reports: Alakanuk reported that people have reduced their harvest of king salmon by 25%. Kotlik reported not much fishing yet. Marshall reported that very few fishers have king salmon and mostly chum are on the drying racks. Russian Mission reported more chums than kings. Holy Cross reported that a fisherman got 20 kings and it is picking up with 2-3 kings per drift and more people are starting to go out. Nulato said a couple of boats went out and got about 4 kings, couple of chums and couple of sheefish. Koyukuk reported they caught their first 3 kings in a set net and tried seining but did not get anything. Huslia reported that people are catching sheefish and no salmon yet. Galena asked for fish from the lower Yukon test fishery due to the flooding and that they are not going to be able to fish most likely. The rapids area is whitefish fishing now and only a couple of wheels will go in and people may share fish from the wheels. Not many people have 6 inch nets. The Tanana River folks are waiting for the fish. Circle said people are getting their fishwheels ready and fishing with whitefish nets. Eagle said someone is fishing for sheefish and they are not sure they fish for king salmon due to conservation concerns and low numbers. Dawson said there is no fishing and they are waiting for the king salmon to arrive but will most likely conserve them for future generations.

Assessment and Management report: The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) reviewed preliminary genetics from the first pulse of king salmon and showed 55% Canadian origin kings at the lower Yukon test fishery and 75% Canadian origin kings at Pilot Station. The department attributes the higher number of Canadian kings to their conservative management strategies this year. The king run is looking better than originally anticipated going into the fishing season. Extensive management strategies were stated as maybe still being needed to meet escapements and they will look at increasing opportunities to harvest summer chum due to the higher than anticipated numbers of those fish. Summer chum commercial harvest numbers and king salmon released alive from the dip net and beach seine gear was reported for this date. Subsistence and commercial fishing have been taking place at the same time and is allowing opportunity for fishing summer chum while protecting the king salmon in the lower river districts and not having complete closures.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reviewed where the early fish and first pulse of king salmon are in the river at this time and also where the summer chum salmon are in the river.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada said they will respond to abundance as the fish cross the border and will follow the Yukon River Salmon Agreement harvest shares and escapement goals.

Public comments, questions, and answers:
It was asked if the genetic information could tell which rivers the king salmon were going to. The department said that they do not have a breakdown by river due to small sample sizes and that they only have the breakdown of U.S. vs. Canada stocks.

Kotlik reported being confused about the fishing gear use and were worried that they did not harvest fish yet on the first pulse. Management said that typically the first pulse comes in the south mouth and the second and third pulses move into the middle and north mouths and Kotlik will get a chance to harvest these fish with the 6 inch gear restriction in place.

People asked when their closures would take place and what gear they would be required to use. Management told people to be on standby for news releases with this information.

It was asked if we might end up putting too many summer chum salmon on the spawning grounds due to the high return to the river and lower harvest. Management said that it was too early to tell and there would be upcoming fisheries taking place in Kaltag and the Tanana River.

Again it was asked if there would be an opportunity to have a teleconference to talk about salmon bycatch before the October North Pacific Fisheries Management Council and YRDFA responded that we are looking into this and will let people know later in the summer.

Information on the king salmon intercepted in the Aleutian Peninsula June fishery was requested and management said that 2,016 king salmon were caught in the south peninsula fishery and 274 king salmon were caught in the north peninsula fishery. Genetic information will be provided on the next call.

Multiple questions were asked of the management agencies about their test fishery data, the certainty of it, the reliability of it and the impact it has on the fish themselves as well as enforcement and gear issues. Management responded to this information as was possible on the call.

For the most current fisheries updates from the ADF&G, please click here to visit their website.

To receive the Yukon River daily update, call the ADF&G Emmonak number at 907-949-1320.

For an automated update on the fishing schedule, call the toll free number of 1-866-479-7387.

Additional Information:
For further information about these teleconferences, please contact the Yukon River Drainage Fisheries Association at 907-272-3141, extension 102 for Jill Klein or look for us on the web at www.yukonsalmon.org.

All teleconferences are scheduled for Tuesday at 1 p.m. Alaska time (2 p.m. Yukon time) during June, July and August. The toll free number is 1-800-315-6338 and the code is 98566#.

Due to the high volume of callers, please mute your phones upon entering the teleconference by pressing your mute button or *6; to speak, after you have muted your phone, please enter again *6. If you do not mute your phone, your line will be muted for you by GCI.

YRDFA 2013 Saint Mary’s Annual Meeting Resolutions

YRDFA 2013 Resolutions
23rd Annual Meeting: St. Mary’s, Alaska
February 11-14, 2013

01 – Thanking the Community of St. Mary’s
Be it resolved that the YRDFA Board Members, delegates and staff of YRDFA gratefully thank the various organizations and the people of St. Mary’s, including the City of St. Mary’s, St. Mary’s School District, Yupiit of Andreafsky Tribal Council, Algaaciq Tribal Council, bed and breakfasts, businesses, fishers, drivers, dancers, cooks, and families for their generosity and hospitality.

02 – Salmon Bycatch
Be it resolved that YRDFA requests that the North Pacific Fishery Management Council take action immediately to reduce the overall bycatch cap to 30,000 and change the pollock fishing season closing date to Sept. 30 to avoid the consistently high bycatch in October.

Be it further resolved that YRDFA requests that the North Pacific Fishery Management Council also take action to adopt chum salmon bycatch management measures which will adequately protect Western Alaska chum salmon runs.

03 – Hatcheries
Be it resolved that YRDFA supports setting specific limits on hatchery production within Alaska and internationally.

04 – Mining in the Yukon River Region
Be it resolved that YRDFA expresses its concern that these mines operate with no impacts to the environment and, particularly, no impacts to aquatic life and habitat productivity.

05 – International Cooperation
Be it resolved that YRDFA will continue its efforts to work with Canadian First Nations, including the Council of Yukon First Nations and Alaska’s tribes for international cooperation and understanding between the United States and Canada for the good of the Chinook salmon and fishers of the Yukon River and its tributaries.

06 – Reducing Fishing Time in Area M June Salmon Fisheries
Be it resolved that YRDFA requests that the Alaska Board of Fisheries significantly reduce the amount of fishing time for the South Alaska Peninsula June fisheries, with accompanying meaningful closure windows to help protect migratory Western Alaska stocks that are transiting the fishery.

07 – Thanking the Elders
Be it resolved that the YRDFA delegation and staff gratefully thank the Elders for attending and participating in the YRDFA annual meeting.

08 – Unified Yukon River Conservation Plan
Be it resolved that YRDFA continue to work and plan strategies with all fisheries stakeholders on the Yukon River on conservation of Yukon River Chinook salmon to allow the stock to recover and rebuild.

09 – Harvesting Summer Chum Salmon
Be it resolved that YRDFA supports allowing the harvest of Yukon River summer chum salmon during the Yukon River Chinook salmon run, regardless of Chinook salmon run strength, if the means and methods of harvesting summer chum do not add additional pressure on the Chinook salmon stocks.

Slide 11

Drainage Fisheries Association

Slide 10

Drainage Fisheries Association

Slide 09

Drainage Fisheries Association

Slide 08

Drainage Fisheries Association

Slide 07

Drainage Fisheries Association