Chinook allocation down by 48 percent

Posted: Thursday, April 10, 2008

Charter boats and commercial fishermen are reeling from reductions in this year's king salmon harvest quota.

"This is going to touch all fleets," said Dale Kelley, executive director of the Alaska Trollers Association.

The Pacific Salmon Commission allotted Southeast troll, seine, set and gillnet, and sport fishermen 170,000 king salmon, also known as chinook. The number is based on the abundance of fish. It is a reduction of about 48 percent from last year and the smallest allowable catch since the 1999 start of the Pacific Salmon Treaty, which the commission implements. The treaty covers British Columbia, Oregon and Washington, as well as Alaska.

King salmon stocks in California and Oregon were closed this year, but those closures aren't directly related because the fish stocks are different.

The state Department of Fish and Game has the task of managing salmon according to the treaty allocation.

How much of the total allocation each fishing sector gets is decided by the state Board of Fisheries. The board allotted 125,410 for trollers, 7,310 for seiners, 5,930 for set and drift gillnetters, totaling 138,650 for commercial fishing. Sport fishing was allotted 31,350 fish.

Fish and Game announced Tuesday that trollers would likely have less fishing time this year.

"This is way deeper than we thought we'd end up this year," Kelley said of her fellow trollers.

Kelley was hopeful that the cut would be a one-year blip in the abundance and not a long-term problem with the health of kings.

Trollers' two target species are coho and king salmon. Trollers catch more cohos, but kings are "the money fish," she said.

On Wednesday, Fish and Game released its management plan for the summer sport fishing season. Charter captains learned that from May 1 through June 30, they'll be limited to four lines per boat instead of the six allowed in past years.

Many charter captains are limited to three or four people on their boats anyway. But in Craig, charter operator Chuck Haydu said he depends on taking six people per trip.

He had just sent money to a boat builder for a new boat - and then he heard about the new allocations in salmon, as well as this year's restrictions on halibut.

"I called him this morning and said, 'I think I'm going to have to cancel that boat,'" he said.

• Contact reporter Kate Golden at 523-2276 or e-mail

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