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Alaska Cuts Chinook Quota Nearly 50 Percent

NW Fishletter #245, April 11, 2008

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has announced a big cutback in this year's Southeast chinook fisheries, down to 170,000 treaty chinook. The troll fishery would be allocated about 125,000 of the total, with the rest divvied up between the commercial seiners, gillnetters and the sport side, which is getting 31,350 chinook to catch this year.

ADFG said the 48-percent reduction from last year is based on its estimate of ocean abundance. These are the smallest preseason allowable catches since implementation of the 1999 Pacific Salmon Treaty Agreement.

The department's April 4 press release pointed to the ocean as a big factor in the reduced numbers. "While the factors affecting the abundance of chinook on the West Coast are complex, it is widely recognized that unfavorable ocean conditions in 2005 and 2006 likely were a significant cause of the poor survival of chinook in the early part of their four- to five-year life-cycle, Some of these ocean conditions have moderated substantially and appear to be returning to a status more favorable to salmon populations."

What the press release didn't say was that most of the chinook caught in Southeast Alaska are bound for British Columbia and Lower 48 rivers. The state does produce some hatchery fish, which make up 15 percent or so of the SE catch. Columbia River stocks, especially Mid-Upper Columbia chinook, comprise about 25 percent of the Alaskans' chinook catch in SE. Another 30 percent or so originate in BC, about 15 percent from Oregon and the rest from the Washington coast. -B. R.

The following links were mentioned in this story:

Comparison of Genetic and PSC Model Catch Compositions, ADFG, Sept. 2007

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