It’s a bold decision, but the Alaska Department of Fish & Game chose to shut down both commercial and sport fishing for king salmon in Southeast Alaska.
As of Thursday, August 10, 2017, all king salmon must be released by commercial boats, guided charters and recreational fishermen.
This order will be reviewed at the end of September and it could either be extended or lifted.
66,000 kings had been caught in the first four days of the summer opener in July, which left 31,000 kings to be harvested in a second opener which typically happens in August.
Concerns over the health of this year’s chinook run caused the shut down after poor ocean survival and incredibly low numbers returned to home river systems. Many of the king salmon in the ocean in the area are younger and will start spawning next year.
“Since a large number of kings that we get in the second opener are feeder kings, we felt compelled to do as much as we could to look toward the future in terms of those stocks,” said Deputy commissioner of ADF&G Charlie Swanton. “Ocean conditions don’t look all that promising in 2018, and we want to do whatever we can to turn around and try to not replicate 2017 moving into 2018 and beyond.”
The closure isn’t ideal with summer charters still going strong, but it’s in hopes of not having a repeat of this next season.
“And it is all directed at doing whatever we possibly can to preserve those kings that we anticipate are going to be in short supply in 2018.”