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ANCHORAGE - A $15 million research project will seek to solve some of the mysteries surrounding salmon declines from the Kuskokwim River to the Arctic.
The study, which begins this week, will involve a coalition of state, federal and tribal agencies hoping to make future runs predictable.
The rivers of the Arctic, Yukon and Kuskokwim region, known collectively as the AYK, have been among the least studied in Alaska, said Gene Sandone of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Though the rivers are big, the salmon runs pale in comparison with the returns of Southeast Alaska, Prince William Sound and Bristol Bay.
The declines have been staggering, affecting not only commercial fishermen but also subsistence. The once mighty Yukon, which provided fishermen with 1.5 million chums and 160,000 kings in 1980, was virtually closed 20 years later. The Kuskokwim fared only slightly better.