The Alaska Department of Fish & Game made a bold decision shutting down all commercial and sport fishing harvest for king salmon in southeast Alaska.
According to KCAW, as of 12:01 a.m. on August 10, 2017, all commercial fishing boats, guided charters, and even resident recreational anglers must release any king salmon unharmed.
With a focus on protecting future production of this species, Deputy Commissioner of ADF&G Charlie Swanton said, “It is imperative that Alaska offer relief now for these stocks.”
It’s been reported that commercial fishermen were able to wrap up the first summer opener in just 4 days, landing 66,000 kings back in July.
That left 31,000 kings to be caught during a second opener, which was set to run sometime in August.
However, Swanton has cited poor ocean survival and record-low returns to home river systems as a great concern for the health of this year’s chinook run.
“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. 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 department has said that it will reevaluate the order at the end of September, when they could either extend it, or lift it altogether.