Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Plans for a District 4 Opening

From the Desk of Scott Walker Ketchikan Area Management Biologist

 A short discussion on the issues surrounding the District 4 purse seine fishery. This is a snapshot of the present situation which will change continually as the salmon return progresses.

In case you forgot:
The Pacific Salmon Treaty states that the United States shall…Manage the Alaska District 4 purse seine fishery prior to stat week 31 to harvest 2.45 % of the AAH of Nass and Skeena sockeye each year. The AAH is the total return of Nass and Skeena sockeye minus the escapement of 1.1 million fish. For this year where it looks like the treaty escapement won’t be met,  we will be using actual escapement.

The 2016 Babine Counting Fence jack sockeye count was the worst on record, at less than 0.06% of normal.  In addition, the proportion of 4 year-old sockeye in the 2016 Skeena sockeye aggregate was approximately 20%.  As such, the total Skeena sockeye return (TR)  was forecasted at 595,000.  The latest Total Return To Canada (TRTC) was announced at 434,000 sockeye. We then estimate the Alaskan Catch and add it to the TRTC for a TR of  475,000. The Alaskan catch is based on a host of assumptions, but we have pretty good historical data. So, for District 4 we have around 7,000 Canadian sockeye + Alaskan sockeye for an estimated 11,000 total sockeyes to be harvested during the treaty period. Last year Canadian sockeye composed 59% of the D4 sockeye catch in the treaty period. We would expect it lower this year with the smaller forecast. This is summarized in the table below. The Canadians put out a update each Tuesday.

Nass River sockeye returns are forecasted to be slightly below the 20-year average with an expected Total Return to Canada (TRTC) of 454,000. The TRTC was announced yesterday at 262,000 sockeyes.  Add Alaska Sockeye  of 50,000 ? (20% of total return for recent 10 year period) for 310,000 – my guess is that it will eventually be lower.

So, my plan is to open D4 on Sunday for 10 to 15 hours.  We have about 11,000 sockeye to harvest in 4 more potential openings .  We are in continual discussion with our Canadian counterparts and are watching the Tyee Test Fishery closely.  The plan after July 16 will depend on how our AAH performs, Canadian returns and Alaskan Catches.    

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