KETCHIKAN - Southeast Alaska subsistence fishermen will be able to catch steelhead under rules approved by the Federal Subsistence Board.
The board also increased bag and possession limits for subsistence-caught trout, Dolly Varden and grayling in Southeast Alaska.
The two issues were among 15 Southeast Alaska proposals considered by the board when it met Jan. 11-13 in Anchorage. The board sets federal subsistence regulations in Alaska.
The new steelhead subsistence fishery will run Jan. 1 through May 31 throughout Southeast Alaska except on Prince of Wales Island, which already has a federal subsistence steelhead fishery.
The new fishery will be open to rural residents who possess federal subsistence permits.
Daily household harvest and possession limits will be one steelhead of 22 inches or more in length.
The annual household harvest limit will be two fish.
In addition to rods and reels, subsistence fishermen will be able to harvest steelhead using dipnets, handlines and spears.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game had opposed the proposal because of concerns about the potential for overharvesting in streams containing small stocks and fall runs of sockeye. To address that concern, the board gave federal managers authority to consult with the state Department of Fish and Game and limit harvests on small streams that have conservation issues.
The board gave similar authority to federal fishery managers regarding small streams affected by new rules for trout, Dolly Varden and grayling in Southeast Alaska. There will be no size limit or season restrictions placed on the subsistence harvest on the fish, according to board information.
The new daily household harvest and possession limits will be 20 brook trout, 20 Dolly Varden and 20 grayling. For cutthroat and rainbow trout, the daily combined household harvest limit will be six fish, while the household possession limit will be 12 fish.
In another change to harvest rules, the board voted to allow federally qualified subsistence fishermen also to fish under the state sport fishing regulations. Previous regulations barred federal subsistence users or members of their households from any additional harvest opportunities once the annual subsistence harvest limit was taken.