A Closer Look At How Certain Data Are Used In Fisheries Management

Prior to each meeting members of the Kuskokwim Salmon Management Working Group are provided a packet of material with various information or data that is used by the managers to make recommendations and/or set regulations that affect not only subsistence users, but also commercial fishermen as well as eagles, bears and other animals that are dependent on the returning salmon.

Basically, that information is used to assess whether or not there are enough fish available to have a commercial fishery, and if so how and when the openings should occur.  The data are also used to determine how many fish will be left to spawn after the subsistence and commercial fishers remove their piece of the pie.  The fish left to spawn are what’s referred to as escapement.  Since it only stands to reason that today’s escapement determines how many will come back in the future, it’s important to get all those numbers right!

In this post we’ll look at one information variable that can be quite variable – run timing.  Everyone knows that from year to year there is substantial variation between when the first Chinook shows up and when the rest, or bulk, of the run passes by.  As always, there are always a few stragglers that mosey on by long after the others have spawned and died…kind of like the Red Lantern musher for the K300.  One year in mid September I saw a male Chinook in a backwater under a thin coating of ice on the Kisaralik River; I’m sure he was the Red Lantern that year.

The Bethel Test Fishery is one tool used to collect data, but it’s really used as an index to indicate the strength and timing of the run; if it’s catching a good number of Chinook, chum, sockeye pink and silvers then there should be quite a few passing by Bethel.

The graph below is one example of how biologists show run timing.

Chinook Salmon Run Timing For The Kuskokwim River

All the colored squiggly lines starting on the left and moving up and to the right represent a different year of returns for Chinook passing by Bethel – the numbers are derived from the Bethel Test Fishery.  The vertical (up and down) axis represents the percentage or proportion of fish of the total run for a particular corresponding date on the horizontal (left to right) axis (6/1, 6/2, 6/3, etc.).  June 1 is the first date on this graph because that’s when the test fishery begins drifting each year.

The blue squiggly line on the far left is considered an early, or in this case the earliest, run of all the years used to construct the graph. Lets follow the line from left to right and see what it’s telling us.  For that particular year, if you were fishing near Bethel other than from June 8th through June 15 you might have had to spend much more time getting what you needed when you did fish.  Those dates correspond to several days before and after the date that half of all the Chinook passed Bethel.  It’s basically the period when the bulk of the Chinook are both above and below Bethel and it is shown by the thick red horizontal line between the numbers 40 and 60.

To find the midpoint for any year, find where the colored line that corresponds with the year you’re interested in crosses the thick red line and drop a straight line down to the horizontal axis…that’s the date you’re looking for.

Now lets look at a different year, a very different year.  The brown line shows the latest run timing that the test fishery has ever documented.  Excluding weather conditions for drying and the desire to catch the early, bright fish – a good time to catch Chinook would have been between June 25 and July 4th; that’sbecause that’s the period that corresponds when a bulk of the fish are in the vicinity of Bethel.  During this year when the run was late, if you’d been fishing from June 8 through June 15 – when it was statistically the best time to be out in the blue year – you probably wouldn’t have caught much if anything!

Why do I say that?

If you look at the dates from June 1 through June 19 the flat brown line is indicating that no fish had been caught yet in the test fishery (although we know that some fish are in the river).  It was only beginning around June 20 when the line starts rising upwards that there were good numbers of fish being caught in the test fishery.

Obviously fishermen pass the word around as to when the fish are running, so they naturally adjust their fishing habits.  But this data can be used to let upriver fishermen know what to expect for when, and how many fish are heading their way.  Of course even if you were to fish outside these timeframes, it can always be good if you get lucky and happen to catch a large pulse of fish moving through right at that time; sometimes, the early bird gets the worm…or in this case the fish!

Keep in mind that the blue and brown lines discussed here are the extreme cases.  That’s why the other lines are bunched together with the majority of them closer to the average, which is pretty much in the middle of all that mess.  So if you were to draw a line through the middle of all those others following the same general pattern – that would show what the overall average run timing for Chinook in the Kuskokwim River has been over the years.

Bethel Test Fish Update June 11 – The Cumulative Is Up To 5

Two Chinook salmon were caught in the Bethel Test Fishery yesterday – June 10th so the cumulative is now up to 5.

As you can see, the next closest year to that would be in 2006 – when over 220,000 salmon escaped; so there is hope – however slim – that things will turn around.

Bethel Test Fish Cumulative As Of June 10

 

 

ADF&G, USFWS and the Kuskokwim Salmon Management Working Group Implement Rolling Closure Schedule

For the first time ever in the Kuskokwim restrictions will be implemented before any large pulse of Chinook salmon have entered the river.  Beginning 12:01 AM Sunday morning on June 10 there will be a 7-day subsistence closure for Chinook salmon for the most downstream section of river (i.e., from the regulatory marker below the Johnson River on downstream – see attached map).  This closure is part of a recently implemented rolling closure schedule, and fishing in that lower section is scheduled to re-open on June 17 at 12:01 AM.  Nets of 4-inch mesh and less and shorter than 60 feet long will still be allowed during the closed period; this is to allow fishermen to catch whitefish and other important subsistence fishes.

Fishers in Section 2 (i.e., just below the Johnson River up to Tuluksak) will have to cease fishing at 12:01 AM on Wednesday, June 13, which does overlap the Section 1 closure.

The rolling closures will progress upstream into the remaining three sections of river unless the run turns out to be much stronger than anticipated.  As is the case with any management decision, they can be rescinded depending on the circumstances.  For updates and scheduling check with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (543-2433), look for news releases or listen to the radio and other news sources as to when upstream closures or changes will occur.

Rolling Closure Sections 1-5 (ADF&G Photo)

The rolling closure schedule was the recommendation of the Department of Fish and Game and the Fish and Wildlife Service and supported by the Kuskokwim Salmon Management Working Group.  Co-Chair Bev Hoffman noted that it was a heavy decision for every Working Group member.

Fritz Charles said that everyone up and down the Kuskokwim had a sore heart knowing the implications for such a drastic decision, but he knew that the tough decision was for everybody’s benefit in the long run.  Fritz quoted the late Iana Gusty who often said, “We have to work together no matter who we are”.  He noted how Iana, at every meeting, would say this, especially when the hardships affected everyone.  Fritz, with apprehension in his voice, stated that as much as he didn’t want to vote yes on the recommendation that we all have to live with it and “I want my grandchild’s grandchildren to fish for Chinook 40 years from now.”

When the vote was tallied it was a unanimous decision to support the Department’s recommendation to implement the rolling closures.  Ray Collins from McGrath and Western Interior RAC member representative said that he was proud of the Working Group to make such a tough decision and that since it was unanimous that that made him feel that it was a demonstration of how the people of the Kuskokwim work together and “look to the future and do what we can”.

Why seven days and not three or four?  If you recall, beginning in 2001 and running for several years, subsistence fishing was allowed only 4 days a week – being closed for three consecutive days.  However, looking back those “windows” actually proved inadequate to protect the fish.  The intent of the “windows” was to 1) reduce the proportion of Chinook salmon harvest in the early season and improve the number of upriver fish returning to spawn 2) protect those fish coming in first which tend to travel the furthest upriver to tributaries around McGrath and beyond (these are not the tributaries that produce high numbers of Chinook like the Holitna, Aniak or Kwethluk rivers), and 3) extend the number of days in which the number of fish were harvested; in other words spread out the catch.

Catch calendar data, however, showed that the “windows” were ineffective at accomplishing any of those objectives.  In essence, those 3-day periods basically only changed people’s behavior to where everyone fished extra hard right up until the closure and immediately once it re-opened.  Based on radio tracking studies conducted several years ago it was determined that the average Chinook travels about 13 or 14 miles per day, so it could take a week or more for a fish through a section; hence the reasoning for the full 7-day closure as well as several days of overlap from one section to the next.  The intent of the rolling closures is to give a substantial block of fish the best chance to get to the spawning grounds with as little fishing pressure as possible.

What was so compelling that forced the Working Group members to make such a hard decision?  The basis for the closure is the apparent weak run that has been noted in subsistence reports by area fishermen and the Bethel Test Fishery results.  Downriver subsistence fishermen like James Charles conveyed that his family and other Tuntatuliak residents were catching very few fish; Henry Lupie confirmed the poor fishing.  Charlie Brown of Eek said that he only knew of a few jack kings that have been caught.  Iana Gusty Jr. said that ONC surveyed six families who were fishing but only one family reported catching king salmon.  Mike Williams noted that the water was high near Akiak and that set nets were picking up two or three kings.

Because the Bethel Test Fishery (BTF) is such an important tool in the decision making process, it’s imperative that people understand just how it works and how the numbers are used.  The BTF keeps a running total of the cumulative catch throughout the season; these numbers are often referred to the catch per unit effort or CPUE.  Every time a fish is caught it is added to the previous running total of fish caught.  For example, lets say we’re members of the test fish crew and we went out the very first day (example – June 1) and didn’t catch any, then the cumulative at the end of day one is zero.  Then if we went out the next day and caught two – the cumulative at the end of that day is two.  If the next day we catch five – then our cumulative is seven (0+2+5)…and so on through the season.

Lets look at this year’s numbers so far:

Bethel Test Fish Cumulative Numbers As Of June 9

As of June 9th only three fish have been caught.  Look back to the last two years when total river escapement goals were not met – by the same date in 2011 sixty-seven fish were caught and in 2010 eleven fish were caught.  We are well below those numbers!

Now look at what the cumulative number was in 2003 on the 6th of June – 106 Chinook had been caught.  Granted the run may be late this year, and we’ll keep our fingers crossed that that is the case.  Unfortunately, the Department pointed out that in previous years when the run was late it generally wasn’t very strong.

People often ask why the Fish and Game crew fishes the same spot each time and why not go where the fish are?  They also ask why not hunt for the fish and try to catch as many as possible like a subsistence or commercial fisherman would?  In order to be used as a scientific tool, it must be repeatable – meaning that the information can be compared to the previous day, the previous week and even previous years.

Unfortunately, it isn’t quite that easy because nature, as we all know, is highly variable.  The biologists know that in some years fish are less susceptible to being caught because the water is much clearer and they shy away from the net.  Or maybe there is a lot of rain in one particular year and high water makes the fish harder to catch because the fish are scattered across a much larger area.  So they do their best to assess the run strength by considering those, and other, variables.  But the key point to remember is that this tool must be as consistent as possible; that’s why they fish the same place and same period of day in regards to the tide from year to year.

As dire as things seem, and this is no consolation for the hardships that people will face this summer, but one must look back to possibly predict the future.  Below is a graph showing the total in-river escapement, or what returned to spawn, over the past 36 years.  Most of you will likely recall the low runs of the mid eighties and late nineties and even 2000.  But look at the following four or five years where the escapements rebounded quite nicely.  There certainly seems to be some sort of a cycle happening…doesn’t there?  There are so many things that may (example – ocean conditions) – or may not – explain the fluctuations; but we’ll leave them for a later discussion.

Total Estimated In-River Escapement The Past 36 Years In The Kuskokwim (ADF&G)

The green horizontal line represents the years the escapement was below 127,000 which is 44 % of the last 36 years, while the red line indicates when the escapement was below 87,000 – that was 19% of the time.

Please don’t hesitate to call the Alaska Department of Fish and Game office in Bethel at 543-2433 or the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge at 543-3151 if you have any questions.  You can also call me at 675-4443 or 676-0012 (my cell).

 

 

June 6 – Second Kuskokwim Salmon Management Working Group Synopsis

It was noted at the beginning of the meeting that a few kings are being caught in the lower portion of the river below Bethel.  The Bethel Test Fishery, which is used as an indicator of run strength and will be the major real-time tool used to determine if any management actions are taken, has caught two Chinook so far.  Here are the results to date of the Bethel Test Fishery compared to previous years.

Early Results of the Bethel Test Fishery

Daniel Esai of Nicolai said that last year the first Chinook was caught on June 7th.  He noted that one year someone caught one as early as May 31; obviously, there is great variation from year to year.  Over ten years ago Sally Hoffman caught a Chinook in the Aniak River while ice fishing in April!

As far as salmon enumeration projects the only weir currently in is the Kwethluk, but it hasn’t caught any yet…which is normal.  The Kwethluk weir actually has to be installed in April, otherwise that water is usually too high this time of year to get it in.  All the other weir projects are currently being installed.

Steve Miller with the Fish & Wildlife Service in Bethel said that they will be collecting tissue samples this summer in and around Bethel and McGrath to assess the extent of the ichthyophonus disease; something that has been fairly common in the Yukon River fish over the years.  So keep your eyes out for pale flesh with nodules or irregular spots or bumps.  If you come across any suspicious fish, call the Bethel FWS office at 543-3151 or Ken Harper in Kenai at 800-822-6550.

Nodules in liver of Chinook salmon

 

Spotting of Chinook fillet

After a week of deliberations the Department and the Fish & Wildlife Service have agreed to use a total in-river escapement of 127,279 as an objective for management purposes going into this season.  That number corresponds to almost 9,000 Chinook escaping into the Kogrukluk River on the upper Holitna.  Unfortunately, by the time anyone knows what the actual escapement on the Kogrukluk, or any weir, is – it’s too late to make any real-time decisions; that’s why fish management is so difficult.

It is possible that in order to make that level of Kuskokwim-wide escapement that everyone in the drainage will have to sacrifice in these times of low returns.  And it is possible that those sacrifices may begin this coming Sunday with what’s called rolling closures which would first be implemented downstream of Bethel and then progress upriver.

The entire river has been divided up into five sections that will have overlapping closure times in order to give a particular group of fish the best chance of making it upriver to the spawning grounds with the least amount of pressure.  Fish run timing was taken into consideration since past studies have shown the swimming speed for a Kuskokwim Chinook averages about 13-14 miles per day.

Section 1 is downstream of Bethel, then Section 2 goes from below Bethel up to Tuluksak.  Section 3 runs from Tuluksak to Chuathbaluk.  Napaimute is in the 4th section which goes from Chuathbaluk to Sleetmute; everything beyond that is the 5th section.

The most downstream section below Bethel, being the first one to be closed, will have a minimum of 24 hours notice.  We in Section 4 will have plenty of notice as to when our closure will begin; it will take effect 5 days after Section 3’s begins.  Keep in mind that when the closure is in place there will be no rod and reel fishing either in the name of subsistence or sport fishing for Chinook salmon.

Depending on how poor the run is, there could be more than one closure period in a particular section; this would likely apply to downriver sections where escapements in the lower tributaries like the Tuluksak and Kwethluk rivers are of great concern.

If you have any questions you can call ADF&G in Bethel at 543- 2433 or E-mail me at dcannonnapaimuteed@earthlink.net

Chinook Salmon Conservation Poster

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.

This poster - if necessary - will be placed at the mouths of the Owhut & Holokuk rivers.

Kuskokwim-Wide Invasive Species Concerns

Invasive species are a concern throughout Alaska – whether they be the terrestrial kind like troublesome orange hawkweed or other rapidly spreading invasive plants, tunicates found in salt water near Sitka or the freshwater waterweed (i.e., Elodea) rapidly expanding in the Chena Slough area near Fairbanks.

For that reason the Native Village of Napaimute and the Kuskokwim River Water Council have come up with a poster that will be posted locally in the villages and regional float plane lakes; it will also be sent to all the guides and outfitters that bring out-of-state clients to the Kuskokwim tributaries who have the potential for bringing an unwanted invasive to the region.

Here is a letter sent to the outfitters and guides:

Hello ,

My name is Dave Cannon and I’m the Environmental Director for the Native Village of Napaimute located on the Kuskokwim River about 30 miles upriver of Aniak.

Several years ago I was the Invasive Plant Coordinator for the middle Yukon-Kuskokwim Region but prior to that I was mostly involved with fish issues since I’m a fish biologist.  I learned that not too long ago most Alaskan botanists didn’t think invasive plants were a big concern due to our remoteness and severe climate.  Unfortunately, they know differently now.  My exposure to the world of invasive plants really opened my eyes as to just how problematic invasives can be – even here in the more the more remote parts of the state.  Of particular concern is reed canarygrass that has the potential to reduce salmon spawning habitat.

Having worked in the lower 48, I was familiar with whirling disease that was prevalent in Colorado, Montana and other Western states as well as the typical hatchery related diseases (e.g., BKD or bacterial kidney disease) since I worked at the Jackson National Fish Hatchery in Jackson Hole, Wyoming prior to being the fish biologist for the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge in Bethel.

There are numerous ongoing efforts to minimize the threats.  While in Bethel I participated in a National Wild Fish Health Survey conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service where we collected baseline tissue samples on rainbow trout in the Kisaralik River; this study was partly driven by the concern over whirling disease.  Fortunately, no diseases were found at that time.

I probably don’t have to dwell then on what the concerns are, but in one Montana study 40% of the anglers did not clean their equipment between uses (Gates et al. 2006).  In another study on aquatic invasive species transport via trailered boats,the authors found that although fishing guides moved among waterways with a greater frequency than anyone else, they often employed less-than-ideal boat cleaning practices…mostly due to inconvenience.

It is our hope that everyone involved will take the extra time to reduce the threat of introducing unwanted organisms to the Kuskokwim drainage so that we never have to deal with such things as whirling disease, rock snot or Elodea (a type of a water weed).  I’ve attached a poster in pdf format expressing our concern and suggestions for ways to minimize the potential for unwanted introductions.

Here are some simple guidelines to follow above and beyond what’s on the poster: 

CLEAN     DRAIN     DRY

 CLEAN – Rinse and remove all visible mud, plants, fish/animals from boats, trailers, float plane rudders and floats, and gear

 DRAIN – Drain water from coolers, floats, bilge pumps, buckets, and wring out gear before leaving the boat launch or fishing area 

DRY – Completely dry equipment and gear between visits to different waterbodies

 *Never release plants, water, fish, or animals into a body of water*

Please feel free to E-mail or call me if you have any questions.  If you would like a printed version of the poster to display in a prominent location please contact me and we’ll send one out.  Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

Sincerely,

Dave Cannon

Environmental Director

Native Village of Napaimute for the Kuskokwim Watershed Council

P.O. Box 355, Aniak, AK 99557

(907) 675-4443 © 676-0012

REFERENCES

Gates, K. K., K. Meehan, and C. S. Guy. 2006. Angler movement patterns and the spread of whirling disease in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem. Association of Pacific Coast Geographers, Sacramento, California. Available: www.wou.edu/pacifica. (February 2007).

Rothlisberger, J.D., W.L. Chadderton, J. McNulty, and D.M. Lodge. 2010.  Aquatic invasive species transport via trailered boats: What is being moved, who is moving it, and what can be done.  Fisheries 35 (3): 121-132.

Page 1 Help Keep Aquatic Invasives Out Of The Kuskokwim

Page 2 of the poster

May 30 – First Kuskokwim Salmon Management Working Group Meeting

The Department of Fish & Game discussed some changes going into this season as far as projects they have going and their plans on managing the salmon going into this upcoming season.

A surprise to me, and to many, is that the Department will no longer operate the Aniak sonar project which is, or has been, the 2nd longest running project in the drainage; the Kogrukluk weir on the upper Holitna has been around since 1976.  The Aniak sonar was put in in 1980.

The reason it won’t be operated anymore is two-fold.  First, money for projects is getting tight, and this project never provided hard numbers.  Since it couldn’t differentiate between species very well, it only gave what is considered an index.  The Department tried to speciate by drifting a gill net in the area, but that couldn’t effectively work the deeper water.  So it was generally assumed the chums comprised the bulk of the run in the Aniak…and no doubt that is true – especially when in some years over 1 million return.

With time technology has improved, and newer equipment was able to differentiate between salmon sized fishes and very small fish, but still precision was lacking.

Keep that in mind when you think about managing the Yukon River salmon runs and the Pilot Station sonar.  I’m not saying that that system shouldn’t be used, because at times a manager has to use the best tool that is available, even if it’s not totally reliable.  At least on the Yukon they have other tools further upriver that they can judge the results of the sonar against.

The Department decided that their money would be well spent if they put a weir upstream on the Salmon River where they could get hard numbers for all salmon species.  There was a weir there beginning in 2006 that ran for about four years; one ADF&G biologist and myself operated it the first year it was in place.

Management Scenarios

The State has a projection of about 197,000 Chinook that they anticipate will return to the drainage this year.  They have been working on what’s called a run reconstruction for Chinook salmon with all the previous years’ data from all the projects.  It’s their best guess as to what the runs were like years ago and what we’ve got now.  In some years it’s estimated that as high as 300,000 or more Chinook have come back.

The Department considers the subsistence harvest to be about 70,000 a year.  As a part of the run reconstruction, they also attempt to come up with a drainage-wide escapement number that they believe would provide for sustainable returns.

They then work with those two numbers (subsistence needs + escapement needs) and determine whether or not there is a harvestable surplus for commercial fishing.

Here’s where things get – or got – interesting yesterday.

There is a pretty good disagreement as to what the Fish & Wildlife Service thinks should be coming back as far as total escapement throughout the drainage.  The State figured around 87,000 but the FWS is inclined to think that that number should be around 133,000…quite a difference.

This difference of opinion goes back many years, in fact ten or more from back when I was the biologist for the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge.

The State uses a computer model to look at past returns, and then the returns years later from those returns; it’s called a spawner-recruit model.  In places like Bristol Bay where they’ve been collecting data for 80 or more years, that can work pretty well.  But in places like the Kuskokwim where we have very limited data, it may not be any better than the sonar up the Aniak!

The Department pretty much goes with that model’s results, where the Fish & Wildlife Service believes that other ecological considerations should be considered.   The problem is trying to incorporate those things into a model…definitely not easy.  The FWS believes that the flesh, eggs, etc. that are eaten by so many animals (including young salmon) need to be considered into the mix, as well as the importance of the marine derived nutrients that salmon bring back with them.  Therefore, the FWS has always promoted more salmon returning.

When you look at the weir project numbers that are on the included Chinook Salmon Conservation poster, you can see that the past few years the escapement numbers for the Tuluksak and Kwethluk rivers is way down.  This is another reason the FWS would like to see higher escapement numbers to help build those populations back up.

How does that difference of opinion fit into this coming season’s management?  Lets go back to the projection that ADF&G believes will come back this year – 197,000.  If the subsistence needs are 70,000 and the escapement necessary (ADF&G’s number) is 87,000 – then there would be a harvestable surplus that could potentially be fished on; not that the Department would take the remaining 40,000 (197,000 – ((70,000+87,000)).  But they are hoping to fish on the chums knowing that there would be an incidental harvest of probably less than 1,000 Chinook.  Keep in mind that the decision makers are from the Commercial Fisheries Division – it’s their job to provide a fishery when fish are available.

BUT – if the Fish and Wildlife Service believes that 133,000 need to come back just for escapement alone, then that changes the harvestable surplus…or eliminates it in this case (70,000 + 133,000 is more than the expected 197,000).  So that now changes the Department’s management options.

In this scenario there couldn’t be a chum fishery until after all the kings went by…which is too late for the processor.  The processor needs to plan ahead knowing that he has some sort of a guarantee.

In deliberations earlier this week with the FWS the Department compromised in a sense and are considering 120,000 necessary for escapement; but depending on how accurate their projection is that doesn’t leave much room for a harvestable surplus if little more than 197,000 returned.  If less than that come back escapement won’t be met.

Keep in mind that all this is based off the one in-season tool that’s available – the Bethel Test Fishery.

And this got the Working Group concerned.  Lets go back to the State’s original escapement number of 87,000.  If 197,000 Chinook did show up – or was a little lower than that – the State wouldn’t anticipate any subsistence restrictions…at least not right off the bat.

As the run progressed and it turned out to be very weak, then rolling closures would likely be implemented with them starting at the mouth and working upstream.  If things were really bad, we in Napaimute would see a 7-day period closed at sometime; we would have at least a week or more notice as to when that would happen.  The closer to Kuskokwim Bay the shorter the notice would be.

But if the State conceded and went with the 133,000 escapement and the Bethel Test Fishery shows very few fish, then subsistence restrictions in the form of that rolling closure would kick in almost immediately for the downstream-most villages.

That would set off a panic situation much like last year…and no one wants that.  The Working Group and ADF&G will be trying to get the message out over various media outlets that there is a likelihood that sacrifices may be necessary this year in hopes that if closures are warranted, that people won’t be blind sided.

So at this time the State and feds haven’t come to consensus.  They will, however, be deliberating all this next week and try to find common ground by next Wednesday’s meeting that will disrupt as few people as possible.  Either way, be prepared for a weaker than normal run.

May 12 – Saturday Update – My Last From Napaimute Till Next Year

Woke up to some fresh snow and very little ice passing by – more wood than ice.  The water level hasn’t changed much in the past few days.

Eric Morgan Jr. will come up tonight by boat and take me back to Aniak where I’ll have to stay until I can cross the slough, hopefully in a day or two, until I can get across to my apartment.

Looking upstream at a peaceful and serene Kuskokwim

Looking downstream over the basketball court dusted with fresh snow

May 10 Update 8:00 AM

Relatively little ice and wood, although there is still a decent amount of wood passing by for you downriver folks.  Even though we had a little rain last night the water level has changed minimally.

 

Ducks and geese are heading west and several peregrine falcons are nesting up behind the Chapel.

Downstream View

Upstream view