State management of finfish in waters of the Alaska Peninsula, Aleutian Islands and the Chignik area are on the agenda for the Alaska Board of Fisheries meeting, set for Feb. 20-25 at the Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center in Anchorage.
Among the proposals up for consideration are several to amend current salmon management plans to extend or reduce commercial salmon fishing time in the South Alaska Peninsula.
Some call for amendments to the current South Unimak and Shumagin Islands June Salmon Management Plan. Proposal 138, from the Orutsararmiut Traditional Native Council would require Alaska Department of Fish and Game to place observers onboard commercial salmon fishing vessels, to enhance accountability of harvest data collected and facilitate information gathering by incorporating an onboard observer component into the management plan.
“To further consider this proposal, one must take into account the drastic difference of harvest between the South Unimak and Shumagin Islands June salmon commercial fishery and subsistence fishery on the Kuskokwim River in 2021,” the tribal proposers said. “This, and the expected low returns of chum salmon in 2022, will likely increase tensions between users, and subsistence users will expect higher accountability of commercial fisheries.”
The Native council notes in its proposal that the South Unimak and Shumagin Islands June fisheries harvest both sockeye salmon and chum salmon in a mixed stock fishery during the month of June. The sockeyes are predominantly of Bristol Bay and Alaska Peninsula origin. The chums are bound for a number of areas, including Japan, Russia, the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim, Bristol Bay, the Alaska Peninsula and Southcentral Alaska.
Low returns of chum salmon are expected again this season, thus further decreasing food security and increasing the risk of community instability in our region, said the proposal from the federally recognized tribe.
“The alarming declines of salmon across the state, together with the research findings communicated through the roundtable discussions led by U.S. Sens. Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski, have increased our concern for the health, safety, and general welfare of the people of our Tribe and the YK Delta Region,” the proposal said.
After experiencing the lowest chum salmon return on record on the Kuskokwim River, the Orutsararmiut Traditional Native Council firmly believes it is of utmost importance to have the most reliable harvest information possible, the council said.
“Specifically, (the Orutsararmiut Traditional Native Council) proposes to enhance the accountability of harvest data collected and facilitate information gathering by incorporating an onboard observer component into the management plan,” it said.