Chinook salmon in the Kuskokwim River drainage can only be harvested by federally qualified subsistence users this year. As in previous years, the special action was approved by the Federal Subsistence Board in Anchorage earlier this month.
Ken Stahlnecker, refuge manager for Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge, explained the rule essentially means that “the fishery will be closed to folks who are not local, rural residents of the Kuskokwim River area.”
Since 2010, king returns to the Kuskokwim have been some of the lowest on record. Stahlnecker said population cycles are natural, but the fishery is overdue for a rebound.
And, he said, that’s been noted by biologists and fishermen alike:
“There are a lot of people on the river here who will tell you through their traditional knowledge, what they’ve been used to when they were younger, and what the elders used to tell them that we certainly are not seeing recently here the same types, the same sizes of chinook runs returning to the Kuskokwim.”
Stahlnecker says regulating the fishery is an ongoing process, which means more restrictions could be added throughout the season.
The closure will remain in place from June 12th to July 15th. To hear the latest closures, residents can call 907-543-1008.
Image at top: “Chinook salmon, Yukon Delta NWR.” Photo: Craig Springer, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Via Flickr / Creative Commons.