ANCHORAGE - Poor returns of adult king salmon will mean no fishing on two Kodiak Island rivers in 2010.
All king salmon angling, including catch and release, will be banned on the 25-mile Karluk River and the Ayakulik River.
For four years, fewer than the minimum number of kings have reached spawning areas. Drastic action is needed, said Donn Tracey, Kodiak area state management biologist.
"Our assumptions based on recent escapements is that the abundance is likely to remain low for years," Tracey said. "The one bright spot is the fact that we've seen this kind of downturn before, particularly on the Ayakulik. That was in the late 1970s and early '80s - and it rebounded from that."
In 2004, more than 24,700 kings returned to the Ayakulik. Last year, the return was 89 percent smaller. The Ayakulik has fallen short of its 4,800 minimum since 2007.
The Karluk has not met its minimum escapement goal of 3,600 kings since 2006.
"Chinook abundance is on a trend of decline on a regional basis," Tracey said. "Throughout Alaska and the North Pacific, stocks are down."
From 2005 to 2009, the Deshka River fell 68 percent to 11,960 kings returning to spawn. The Kenai River was down 45 percent to 11,334 kings and the Anchor River was down 69 percent to 3,504 kings.
"Angler interest has dissipated significantly," Tracey said. "That's something you'd expect. It will take some time for anglers to rediscover that fishery - even after it bounces back - and its troubles are compounded by the (weak national) economy."
While the king fishing has diminished, anglers can still pursue silver salmon, steelhead and other species on the rivers.
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