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75,000 Pounds of Salmon Unharvested After Water Loss in Emmonak

The Kwik’Pak Fisheries plant in Emmonak lost 75,000 pounds of fish at the height of this year’s commercial salmon season because of a lack of water.

“We didn’t operate or buy fish on Wednesday, which caused a loss of roughly about 10,000 fish, or 75,000 pounds of fish went unharvested,” said Jack Schultheis, general manager for the Kwik’Pak. “People couldn’t fish that day, basically.

A break in Emmonak’s water-main was discovered midway through last week. And without water, the plant had no way of processing fish. That, in turn, meant they had to tell fishing crews that if they did go out for chum salmon, Kwik’Pak wouldn’t be able to buy any of it. And that loss of income, Schultheis explained, is a big deal because it ripples across communities up and down the Yukon.

“Ya know, commercial fishing is an extremely huge part of the Lower Yukon Region. It’s a family fishery here, a small boats fishery. And the people here depend on the commercial fishery to have a–ya know, their subsistence lifestyle.”

By Thursday, limited water capacity was flowing to Kwik’Pak in order to prioritize getting the commercial fishery back up and running, Schultheis said.

“The city officials here, and the water plant operators, put in an extra ordinary effort to get us operating again,” he explained. “It did’t go ignored. They respond to it just as fast as they could.”

The City of Emmonak says the problem with the mainline has been fixed, but are asking residents to conserve water while the storage tanks re-fill.