Federal agency to take over salmon management on southwestern Alaska river

(U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

BETHEL, Alaska — The management of king salmon on a southwestern Alaska river will transfer from state to federal control starting next month.

As of June 12, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will begin overseeing salmon living in the lower and middle Kuskokwim River, KYUK-AM reported. The river area affected by the switch is in the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge, from Aniak down to the mouth of the Kuskokwim.

Under federal law, the switch is necessary when there is poor return of king salmon. By taking over the fishery, the service is responsible for ensuring that local people receive subsistence priority.

The king salmon fishery typically closes around the time of the switch.

The feds may announce gillnet fishing openings depending on the condition of the run, according to the report.

One opening is already scheduled for the first day of the switch, Refuge Manager Ken Stahlnecker said.

“Which is looking like it may be a 12-hour opportunity on June 12,” he said. “We’re trying to finalize things, so I wouldn’t say it’s a guarantee at this moment, but that’s definitely what we’re talking about.”

The rules are similar to the ones in effect last year, Stahlnecker said. Under federal control, openings are limited to local subsistence users living on the Kuskokwim River drainage or those living along the coast in Chefornak, Kongiganak, Kipnuk or Kwigillingok.

Stahlnecker expects fishers will be allowed to harvest as many as salmon this year as last year: about 40,000 kings.


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