KIYU News Scorecard

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BOARD OF FISHERIES JANUARY 2016
YUKON AND KOYUKUK RIVER PROPOSALS SCORECARD
Yukon Salmon Proposals
Organized by gear type
BEACH SEINE
Proposal 117 – Prohibit the use of beach seines in Yukon River subsistence fishing and summer chum commercial fishery
Submitted by: Tanana, Rampart, Manley Fish and Game Advisory Council
Fish and Game opinion: Neutral
Advisory Committees in support: none
Advisory Committees in opposition: Coastal/Lower Yukon, GASH, Mid-Lower Yukon, Ruby
Other comments submitted: USFWS, Yupiit of Andreafski and Yukon Delta Fisheries Development Assoc. oppose
Details: Suggested language would prohibit subsistence and commercial beach seine fishing for Yukon River king salmon, though
the proponents also seem to be against beach seining for chum, due to bycatch of kings and unknown physical effect on kings
who are caught and then released.
Board of Fisheries action: Failed 0-7.
Proposal 118 – Establish specifications for a legal beach seine net used for subsistence fishing on the Yukon River
Submitted by: Alaska Department of Fish and Game
Fish and Game opinion: Support
Advisory Committees in support: Coastal/Lower Yukon, Mid-Lower Yukon, Minto-Nenana, Ruby, Koyukuk River (with
modifications)
Advisory Committees in opposition: none
Other comments submitted: Support from Fish and Wildlife, Yupiit of Andreafski, Yukon Delta Fisheries
Details: There are currently no restrictions on the length or depth of a beach seine. Beach seining has been allowed recently on
the lower Yukon to catch summer chum during times of king salmon conservation, since kings can be released when the seine is
collected and the catch is sorted. Some ACs and opponents of beach seining argue that kings may be significantly damaged by
beach seines and may not survive for long after being released. This proposal would set the maximum allowable length of a
subsistence beach seine at 150 fathoms (900 feet) and maximum depth at 100 meshes. GASH Advisory Council suggests that a
“beach seine” of this size is too big to be called a beach seine anymore; it’s closer to purse seine in size. The Koyukuk River AC
suggests that the maximum length should be 50 fathoms (300 feet), out of concern that 150 fathoms of gear is so long that kings
wrapped up in one end of the net may die by the time the fishermen get there.
Board of Fisheries action: Passed 7-0 as amended. RC41 added some specs to the proposal, stipulating that a seine cannot be
made of monofilament webbing. The max length remains at 150 fathoms, max length 100 meshes, and the max mesh size was
amended to 4 inches. The original proposal called for 3.5 inch max mesh size, but the proponent and/or Fish and Game thought
it would be best to move up to 4 inch to reduce the incidental catch of Bering Sea cisco.
Proposal 123 - Establish specifications for a legal beach seine net used for commercial fishing on the Yukon River
Submitted by: Alaska Department of Fish and Game
Fish and Game opinion: Support
Advisory Committees in support: Coastal/Lower Yukon, Mid-Lower Yukon, Minto-Nenana, Ruby (with amendments), Koyukuk
River (with amendments)
Advisory Committees in opposition: none
Other comments submitted: Yupiit of Andreafski and Yukon Delta Fisheries in support
Details: This is the companion proposal to #118, applying in this case to commercial fishing. The same objections to the
maximum length and depth numbers chosen by Fish and Game apply here.
Board of Fisheries action: Passed 7-0, with the same amendments as Proposal 118.
Proposal 119 – Require live release of king salmon from subsistence beach seines during times of king salmon conservation in the Yukon Area
Submitted by: Alaska Department of Fish and Game
Fish and Game opinion: Support
Advisory Committees in support: Coastal-Lower Yukon, GASH, Mid-Lower Yukon, Middle Yukon, Minto-Nenana, Ruby, Tanana
Rampart Manley
Advisory Committees in opposition: none
Other comments submitted: Fish and Wildlife, Yupiit of Andreafski and Yukon Delta Fisheries in support
Details: Regulations currently require fishermen using dip nets to release king salmon alive, but do not require beach seine users
to release kings. This proposal would change that to make beach seines equal to other selective gear types when it comes to
returning king salmon to the water.
Board of Fisheries action: Passed 7-0.
FISH WHEELS
Proposal 115 – Allow for the retention of king salmon less than 25 inches in length in Yukon Area fish wheel subsistence fisheries
Submitted by: Fairbanks Fish and Game Advisory Committee
Fish and Game opinion: Neutral
Advisory Committees in support: Minto-Nenana, Eastern Interior, Ruby, Yukon Flats
Advisory Committees in opposition: Coastal/Lower Yukon, GASH, Mid-Lower Yukon, Middle Yukon,
Other comments submitted: Fish and Wildlife and Yukon Delta Fisheries support with modifications, Yupiit of Andreafski
oppose, Koyukuk River AC took no action
Details: This proposal would only apply to subsistence fishermen using so-called “fish-friendly” fish wheels, as defined in
regulations (5 AAC 05.362 Yukon River Summer Chum Salmon Management Plan). Fish friendly fish wheels must have soft
surfaces in the baskets and on the chute to prevent injury to king salmon. Studies show that 90% of four year old kings (likely to
be less than 25 inches in length) are males and do not contribute much to escapement or reproduction. Only a small percentage
of the king run is composed of four year olds.
Board of Fisheries action: Failed 1-6. Board Chairman Kluberton and the majority of the other members felt reluctant to make
any changes to the management style that is in place now. There was also some concern about altering genetic diversity of the
king stock by targeting and removing small kings (less than 25 inches long), which make up about 10 percent of the run in some
years. The Board agreed that a proposal like this might make more sense in the future if and when king numbers have
recovered.
Proposal 116 – During times of king salmon conservation, all fish wheels would need to be attended at all times and king salmon would need
to be released immediately
Submitted by: Tanana Rampart Manley Fish and Game Advisory Committee
Fish and Game opinion: Support
Advisory Committees in support: Coastal-Lower Yukon, Mid-Lower Yukon, Middle Yukon, Minto-Nenana, Eastern Interior,
Yukon Flats
Advisory Committees in opposition: GASH
Other comments submitted: Fish and Wildlife Service and Yupiit of Andreafski in support
Details: This proposal would effectively eliminate the use of live boxes on fish wheels during times of king salmon conservation,
when regulations require that all king salmon are to be returned the water alive. This is already part of regulations for
commercial chum fishing with fish wheels during times of king salmon conservation (5 AAC 05.362 Yukon River Summer Chum
Salmon Management Plan). The Tanana Rampart Manley AC in its proposal cites previous studies about the harmful impact of
live boxes on king salmon survivability. Current subsistence regulations require fish wheel users to check live boxes at least once
every six hours during times of king salmon conservation.
Board of Fisheries action: Passes 7-0. Substitute language (RC40) was inserted to extend the principle of immediate release to
chum salmon during times of chum salmon conservation, in addition to king salmon.
SET NET
Proposal 124 – Allow 6-inch or smaller mesh gillnets in the District 6 commercial salmon fishery by emergency order
Submitted by: Alaska Department of Fish and Game
Fish and Game opinion: Support
Advisory Committees in support: Mid-Lower Yukon, Minto-Nenana, Koyukuk River
Advisory Committees in opposition: none
Other comments submitted: Yupiit of Andreafski and Yukon Delta Fisheries in support
Details: Managers do not currently have the authority to call for directed summer chum commercial openings with 6-inch mesh
nets in District 6, though they do have that authority in Districts 1 and 2.
Board of Fisheries action: Passed 7-0
DRIFT NET
Proposal 113 – Prohibit the use of drift nets for fish for king salmon on all waters of the Yukon River
Submitted by: Tanana Rampart Manley Fish and Game Advisory Committee
Fish and Game opinion: Oppose
Advisory Committees in support: Yukon Flats
Advisory Committees in opposition: Coastal-Lower Yukon, GASH, Mid-Lower Yukon, Ruby
Other comments submitted: Yupiit of Andreafski and Yukon Delta Fisheries in opposition
Details: The proponents wish to make it illegal to fish for king salmon with drift nets on the Yukon, as a means to preventing
further overfishing and intentional selection of large, Canadian-stock king salmon.
Board of Fisheries action: Failed unanimously, 0-7.
Proposal 121 – Allow the use of drift nets throughout all of Subdistrict 4-A on the Yukon for subsistence summer chum fishing
Submitted by: Alaska Department of Fish and Game
Fish and Game opinion: Support
Advisory Committees in support: GASH, Mid-Lower Yukon, Middle Yukon, Ruby, Koyukuk River
Advisory Committees in opposition: Tanana Rampart Manley, Yukon Flats
Other comments submitted: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Yukon Delta Fisheries in support, Yupiit of Andreafski opposed
Details: Currently summer season drift netting is only allowed in the upper portion of Subdistrict 4-A, from around Anvik to Cone
Point near Bishop Rock. During times of king salmon conservation, Fish and Game can still allow drift netting to target summer
chum with 6 inch mesh nets during limited openings. This proposal would allow Fish and Game to allow that in all of Subdistrict
4A. Fishermen in the lower portion of 4-A have noted that the ban on drift netting in the summer season there has prevented
them from meeting their subsistence needs (with summer chum).
Board of Fisheries action: Passed 7-0.
PURSE SEINE
Proposal 126 – Add purse seines as legal gear type for commercial salmon fishing in Districts 1-3 during times of king salmon conservation
Submitted by: Kwik’pak Fisheries
Fish and Game opinion: Neutral
Advisory Committees in support: Coastal-Lower Yukon
Advisory Committees in opposition: Fairbanks, Mid-Lower Yukon, Middle Yukon, Koyukuk River, Minto-Nenana, Ruby, Tanana
Rampart Manley, Yukon Flats
Other comments submitted: Yukon Delta Fisheries (Kwik’pak parent company) in support, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Yupiit of
Andreafski, and various individual comments in opposition
Details: This proposal would make purse seining legal in the lower Yukon commercial fishery, as another means of targeting
summer chum salmon while minimizing bycatch of king salmon. Purse seining is more common in ocean-based salmon fisheries,
and usually requires a mechanical hoist. It does not set in place maximum length, depth of mesh size limits. All king salmon
caught in purse seine gear would have to be returned to the water immediately and unharmed.
Board of Fisheries action: Failed 2-5. Board members added language found in RC44 to further detail what legal purse seine
would be. The proposed length limit was 100 fathoms (600 feet), depth limit was 150 meshes, and mesh limit was 4 inches. The
proposed amendment to original proposal also restricted the boats that could participate in a purse seine fishery to 28 feet in
length, and purse seine openings could not be longer than 8 hours. All kings would have to be released to the water alive
immediately. Despite these amendments to the original proposal, the proposal failed.
NEW FISHERIES
Proposal 125 – Establish a pink salmon directed commercial fishery with 4-inch mesh nets in Districts 1-3
Submitted by: Kwik’pak Fisheries
Fish and Game opinion: Neutral
Advisory Committees in support: Coastal-Lower Yukon, Mid-Lower Yukon
Advisory Committees in opposition: Ruby, Koyukuk River
Other comments submitted: Eastern Interior Regional Subsistence Advisory Council (federal) opposed, Yukon Delta Fisheries
(Kwik’pak’s parent company) and Yupiit of Andreafski in support
Details: Kwik’pak Fisheries has been buying incidentally-caught pink salmon from lower river commercial fishermen since 2008,
but now requests a directed pink fishery with 4 inch mesh nets, which are more appropriate to catch the smaller pink salmon
compared to chum or king salmon. The pinks begin their run as the king run is just about over. As with pink runs elsewhere,
Yukon pinks alternate between strong runs and weak runs, with even-numbered years showing big returns (estimated 978,000
fish past Pilot Station in 2014) and odd-numbered years having relatively few pinks. A large percentage of the pinks go to the
Anvik River to spawn, and a sizeable portion go up the Andreafski. A few show up as far as Kaltag and Nulato. Commerciallyviable pinks would only be caught along the coast or around Emmonak. After that, their quality is too poor to sell. Kwik’pak has
found a market for Yukon pinks internationally, and estimates a price to fishermen of between 20 and 25 cents per pound in
2016. Opposition to the proposal from several advisory committees focuses on the potential for king salmon bycatch.
Board of Fisheries action: Passed 7-0, as amended. Amendments introduced in RC43 set a mesh size limit of 4 and ¾ inches,
and set a time frame in which a pink salmon commercial fishery could occur: June 15 thru July 31. This seasonal restriction
would limit exposure to the king salmon run, which begins earlier in June, and the fall chum/coho run, which begins in late July.
The amended language also reduced the eligible area for pink salmon commercial fishing to District 1, instead of Districts 1,2,
and 3.
KOYUKUK RIVER NON-SALMON PROPOSALS
Proposal 142 – Sets dates when gillnets can be used in the upper Koyukuk (south fork and middle fork)
Submitted by: Jack Reakoff
Fish and Game opinion: Neutral
Advisory Committees in support:
Advisory Committees in opposition:
Other comments submitted:
Details: Seeks to change the dates when fishermen can use gillnets in the upper Koyukuk. Currently regulations allow gillnets
from November 1 through June 30. The proposed dates are August 20 through June 30. This change would give fishermen a
chance to fish for non-salmon species after the chum run has ended but before freeze-up.
Board of Fisheries action:
Proposal 144 – Allow the use of gillnets to entirely block off sloughs in the Huslia area, to target northern pike
Submitted by: Jack Wholecheese
Fish and Game opinion: Oppose
Advisory Committees in support: Middle Yukon (with modifications), Koyukuk River (with modifications)
Advisory Committees in opposition: Fairbanks
Other comments submitted: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Office of Subsistence Management supports, with suggested modifications of
requiring a portion of the slough to remain open for navigation and some level of fish passage, and suggests a permit system to
track the harvest
Details: The original proposal would apply to Racetrack Slough, just upriver from Huslia, and sloughs off of the Huslia River. In
their January 5th meeting, the Koyukuk River Advisory Committee agreed to amend the proposal to apply to “all sloughs that
don’t have salmon that are adjacent to the Koyukuk Drainage from the mouth to the south fork.” Proponent Jack Wholecheese
from Huslia argues that stretching a net across an entire slough is an old technique used for controlling the pike population and
providing large numbers of pike for subsistence. The nets are set when the pike typically move out of inland lakes and sloughs
and toward the mainstem Koyukuk River – in late May and early June. This technique has been illegal for at least 60 years. Fish
and Game is opposed due to concerns for overharvesting pike and catching nontarget species like whitefish, grayling, sheefish
and suckers.
Board of Fisheries action:
ADJUSTMENTS TO MANAGEMENT PLANS
Proposal 107 – Close the Yukon River summer chum commercial fishery as a means of protecting king salmon
Submitted by: Tanana, Rampart, Manley Advisory Committee
Board action: Failed unanimously (0-7)
Proposal 108 – Reduce the trigger points for the summer chum commercial fishery to occur at various rates of exploitation
Submitted by: Kwik’pak Fisheries
Fish and Game opinion: Support
Advisory Committees in support: Coastal-Lower Yukon
Advisory Committees in opposition: GASH, Middle Yukon, Ruby, Fairbanks, Tanana Rampart Manley
Other comments submitted: Yupiit of Andreafski and Yukon Delta Fisheries in support, Eastern Interior Federal regional advisory
council
Details: This proposal would lower the projected run size numbers at which various levels of commercial fishing exploitation can
take place on summer chum salmon. For example, instead of considered a run size of 600,000 summer chum or lower to be a
critically low run, the proposal would reduce that threshold to 400,000. 100 percent of the commercially –available surplus of
summer chum could be caught after the run size hits 800,000 (as opposed to 1,000,000 as currently written in regulations).
Board of Fisheries action: Passed 6-1, as amended. Language was added from Record Copy 39. The amended language states
that if the projected summer chum run size is less than 500,000 fish, Fish and Game may restrict or close all fishing (earlier
language used the word “shall”). Between 500,000 and 650,000 fish, subsistence, and possibly commercial fishing in some
areas, may be opened. Board Member Mumford voted against due to concerns about king salmon bycatch.
Proposal 109 – Modify the Yukon River summer chum management plan
Submitted by: Alaska Department of Fish and Game
Fish and Game opinion: Support
Advisory Committees in support: Coastal-Lower Yukon, GASH, Mid-Lower Yukon, Middle Yukon, Ruby, Tanana Rampart Manley
Advisory Committees in opposition: Fairbanks
Other comments submitted: Yupiit of Andreafski and Yukon Delta Fisheries in support
Details: Similar to Proposal 108, this proposal moves the trigger points within the summer chum salmon commercial
management plan to reflect the new Fish and Game escapement goal for summer chum of between 500,000 and 1.2 million fish
throughout the Yukon drainage. It would lower the run size at which subsistence fishing could happen from 600,000 to 500,000.
Drainage-wide commercial fishing on summer chum could occur at a run size of 750,000 fish or higher – a reduction from the
current trigger point of 1,000,000 fish.
Board of Fisheries action: No action. The Board took action on Prop 108 to accomplish the same goal of 109 – to alter the
summer chum management plan to incorporate the new drainage-wide escapement goal.
Proposal 110 – Increase the trigger point for commercial fishing in the Yukon River Drainage Fall Chum Salmon Management Plan
Submitted by: the Eastern Interior Federal Subsistence Regional Advisory Council
Fish and Game opinion: neutral
Advisory Committees in support: Fairbanks, Middle Yukon, Ruby, Tanana Rampart Manley, Yukon Flats
Advisory Committees in opposition: Coastal-Lower Yukon, Mid-Lower Yukon
Other comments submitted: Eastern Interior federal subsistence regional advisory council, U.S. Fish and Wildlife in support;
Yukon Delta Fisheries opposed
Details: Would raise the point at which commercial fishing on fall chum salmon can occur from 500,000 fish projected run size to
600,000 fish projected run size, to allow more fall chum to move upriver for escapement and subsistence.
Board of Fisheries action: Passed 4-3 as amended. The Board debated the proposal for almost 50 minutes, with several
members expressing concern that fishery managers may not be providing for subsistence needs adequately. Fish and Game Fall
Season Manager Jeff Estensen defended the current management plan and trigger point, stating that research into the
correlation between the summer and fall chum runs has shown a very strong relationship between the two, so managers will
know a lot about the size of the fall chum run after the summer chum run is finished. Member Fritz Johnson offered an
amendment to set the trigger point at 550,000 fish, as a compromise between 500,000 (where it is now) and 600,000 (where the
proposal wanted to move it). The amendment passed 5 to 2. Then the whole proposal, as amended, passed 4 to 3.
Proposal 114 – Establish a permit system for subsistence fishing in District 5 and set permit limits on king salmon during times of conservation
Submitted by: Gene Sandone
Fish and Game opinion: Neutral
Advisory Committees in support: Minto-Nenana
Advisory Committees in opposition: Yukon Flats
Details: Would require permits (either based on households or communities) to fish for king salmon in District 5, and set catch
limits
Board action: NO ACTION. The Board agreed by unanimous consent to not vote on this proposal, but in general were against it.
An opinion from the Department of Law also suggests that it would be illegal, based on the recent Estrada ruling from the Alaska
Supreme Court, which states that Fish and Game cannot set harvest limits in a subsistence permit fishery.
Proposal 120 – The subsistence fall chum fishery in District 5 will be open 7 days per week as soon as commercial fall chum fishing begins on
the lower Yukon.
Board action – Failed 1-6. The majority of the Board was convinced that Fish and Game is committed to opening subsistence fishing in
District 5 on a 24-7 basis, unless the fall chum run is low. Having a regulation requiring a 24-7 schedule would be risky, in the opinion of
several board members. The Department of Law noted that Fish and Game can still shut down and override regulations if necessary for
biological reasons.
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