With the advent of low Chinook salmon numbers returning to the Kuskokwim the past few years and the similar low projections expected for this coming season, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game along with Kuskokwim Salmon Management Working Group have agreed to begin the season by closing the Aniak and George rivers for rod and reel fishing for substance and sport fishing.
Consequently, there will likely be increased fishing pressure, most likely from sport fishermen, at the mouths of the Owhut and Holokuk rivers that would put additional stress on the reduced numbers of fish returning to spawn. Napaimute’s environmental department made the included poster in hopes of encouraging others to minimize the stress incurred on those returning fish.
Those closures and this conservation poster are contingent upon another year of low returns. However, if the run is stronger than expected and closer to normal, the Aniak and George River closures will be lifted.
There was a Salmon Management Working Group meeting this morning (the 6th) to assess management actions, but it is a little to early since the Bethel test fishery only has a few days of information. The Working Group will meet again this Friday. If the run is low, it is possible that subsistence regulations for rolling closures could go into effect this coming Sunday from a point downstream of Bethel to the mouth of the Kuskokwim.
I will write a post shortly that discusses what went on at today’s meeting and explaining the potential rolling closures.