Southeast chinook quota is up again

Posted: Wednesday, April 01, 2009

After years of decline, there's some better news for Southeast's chinook salmon fishery: Stocks are up, and so is this year's quota.

Southeast Alaska's sport and commercial fishermen will be allowed to harvest 218,000 fish, up 48,000 fish from last year's quota of 170,000. These numbers refer to wild Pacific chinook stocks, not those produced by Alaska hatcheries.

Southeast fishermen took a 48 percent cut last year and saw the smallest allowable catch since the 1999 start of the Pacific Salmon Treaty.

Chinook salmon, also called king salmon, range from Oregon to Alaska and are governed according to the international treaty.

According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, chinook returns are still lower than the high levels seen from 2003 to 2005, but certain important populations have improved compared to the returns that led to deep cuts in the quotas last year.

Anomalous ocean conditions - warmer temperatures, low density of prey and weak upwelling - provided less food for juvenile kings several years ago, and likely contributed to poor returns, according to a National Marine Fisheries Service report.

Better ocean conditions, upland habitat restoration and improved Pacific Northwest freshwater management contributed to healthier stocks, a Fish and Game statement noted Tuesday.

Southeast's quota will be allocated among the sport, commercial troll and net fisheries, according to Board of Fisheries management plans.

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