Southeast Alaska & Yakutat location map

Salmon Fishery Update
Southeast Alaska & Yakutat Commercial Fisheries

Updated Friday, September 18, 2020

This is the last summary update for the 2020 fishing season.

Troll Fishery

The Southeast Alaska/Yakutat commercial troll fishery closed to the taking of Chinook salmon at 12:01 a.m., September 8 following a 25-day open fishing period. The second summer retention period targeted approximately 63,000 treaty Chinook salmon, the total of the remaining troll and all-gear allowable catch. To date, a total of 67,000 Chinook salmon have been reported on fish tickets.

Preliminary data indicates a total of 718,700 coho salmon landed in the troll fishery since July 1 with an average weight of 5.8 lb. The coho salmon catch is down 23% and 45% from the 2019 and 5-year averages, and average weight is down from 2019 and the 5-year average by 0.5 lb and 0.4 lb. The average price for 2020 of $2.06/lb is $0.01 above the 2019 price and $0.39 above the 5-year average.

The preliminary regional power troll coho salmon catch rate for the current statistical week (SW) 38 is 47 fish/boat/day, with the highest catch rate in the Central Outside area at 53 fish/boat/day.

Troll effort targeting hatchery chum salmon returning to the Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association (NSRAA) release sites in Crawfish Inlet and Deep Inlet Terminal Harvest Areas (THA) is finished for the season. No directed chum salmon harvest has been reported since SW 36. Based on fish tickets received for SWs 30-36, 50 vessels have harvested approximately 50,200 chum salmon in West Crawfish Inlet with a catch/landing of 212 fish. Cumulative harvest for Crawfish Inlet THA for SWs 30-35 is 14,500 fish for 19 vessels at a rate of 223 chum salmon/landing. In the Sitka Sound area, cumulative harvest for SWs 29-36 is 4,100 chum salmon at 106 fish per landing. A total of eight vessels landed 2,300 chum salmon in the Deep Inlet THA, a rate of 212 chum salmon/landing.

Current chum salmon average weights for fish tickets received to date are 7.9 lb for West Crawfish Inlet/Crawfish THA and 7.0 lb for Sitka Sound. The average price is $0.49/lb for these fisheries. The seasonal total chum salmon harvest for Neets Bay THA/West Behm Canal through SW 29 was 1,051 chum salmon landed with six vessels averaging 105 chum/landing. The Neets Bay THA closed on July 6.

The commercial summer troll fishery will close by regulation at 11:59 p.m., September 20. The winter troll Chinook salmon fishery will open by regulation at 12:01 a.m., October 11. The Winter Troll Management Plan should be available in area offices and on the troll webpage the second week of October.

The 2020 Summer Troll Fishery Management Plan (PDF 3,743 MB) was published this week and is available in area offices and on the troll webpage.

Purse Seine Fishery

Hatchery produced chum salmon throughout Southeast returned in numbers much lower than forecasted and hatchery operators had to cease or limit common property and/or cost recovery harvests to obtain broodstock. The Deep Inlet Terminal Harvest Area (THA) reopened to common property fisheries on August 27 but closed again for broodstock concerns on September 6. Crawfish Inlet THA opened to common property purse seine fisheries beginning August 25. Openings will continue in Crawfish and West Crawfish inlets through September 25, but harvest and effort are waning. To date, 650,000 chum salmon have been harvested by the purse seine fleet in Crawfish and West Crawfish inlets. The region's overall common property purse seine harvest was poor with less than 1.8 million chum salmon harvested to date, the lowest harvest since 1990.

The 2020 Southeast Alaska pink salmon harvest forecast was for a weak harvest of 12 million fish. The purse seine pink salmon fishery concluded August 20 with a very poor harvest of 5.9 pink salmon. This harvest level is the lowest since 1976 and the 5th lowest since statehood. Pink salmon escapement throughout the region generally improved from the 2018 parent year. In addition, the extremely wet summer should result in a healthy escapement.

The department has completed final surveys for pink salmon escapement. Observations of fall chum salmon escapement indicate there are no areas with excess escapement that would allow for fisheries.

Drift Gillnet Fishery

For more information please see the 2020 Southeast Alaska Drift Gillnet Fishery Management Plan (PDF 765 kB)

Tree Point/Section 1-B

The Section 1-B drift gillnet fishery was open for four days starting on Sunday, September 13. In comparison to the 10-year average, harvest of all salmon species was well below average. The effort level of 20 vessels was also below the 10-year average of 35 vessels. The estimated weekly harvest was 2,000 coho salmon and 2,000 chum salmon. Given the poor coho salmon catch and the declining Hugh Smith weir coho salmon count, the Section 1-B drift gillnet fishery will close for the remainder of the 2020 season.

For further details concerning this fishery, please see the 2020 Southeast Alaska Drift Gillnet Fishery Management Plan (PDF 765 kB) which is also available at area offices.

Stikine and Prince of Wales/Districts 6 and 8

Management focus of the Districts 6 and 8 gillnet fishery was based primarily on wild coho salmon abundance during statistical week 38. Both districts opened for three days beginning on Sunday, September 13. Effort was slightly below half of the 10-year average in District 6 for statistical week 38. Harvest of coho salmon was about 10% of the average for the same time period. Chum salmon harvests were slightly above average on a catch per vessel basis. Meanwhile in District 8, effort was about 50% of the 10-year average with harvests near average on a catch per vessel basis. In both districts overall harvest of coho salmon was well behind the 10-year averages, chum salmon harvest was about 70% of the 10-year average in District 6 and less than 5% of the 10-year average for District 8. Conditions have been sunny and clear with little rain over the last 10 days and stream water levels are low. Fishing effort has been declining in both districts. District 6 and 8 will both open for two days Sunday, September 20.

Taku-Snettisham/Section 11-B

The 2020 District 11 drift gillnet season ended this week on a theme comparable to all the previous openings this season: weak. The one-day opening was geared towards harvesting the remaining Douglas Island Pink and Chum, Inc (DIPAC) coho salmon returning to Gastineau Channel with the upper portion of Taku Inlet closed to reduce harvest of Taku River fish. The better catch rates during the opening were from boats fishing at the Point Bishop line on what appeared to be mostly DIPAC fish that were purportedly looking 'dark and tired'.

Approximately 1,000 coho salmon were harvested this week by nearly 20 boats, only eight of which stuck around for the end of the opening. This week's Taku River coho salmon run size estimate increased slightly projecting a terminal run of 62,500 fish with nearly 80% of the run historically though Canyon Island. At this level, the U.S. continues to have no allowable catch (AC) and Canada is allowed 5,000 fish under the current Annex IV of the Pacific Salmon Treaty, adopted in 2019, which includes harvest sharing of Taku River above border coho salmon. Harvest of Taku River coho salmon by the District 11 drift gillnet fishery and the inriver Canadian commercial fishery will be quite similar at approximately 4,500 fish and 6,500 fish with both countries likely exceeding their ACs. It appears the escapement goal will be met with the current inriver run size projection minus harvest in the Canada commercial fishery right at 50,000 fish which is the lower bound of the escapement goal range.

The final postseason Taku River sockeye salmon run size estimate will not be available for another month or so while genetic stock identification (GSI) and age, sex, and length (ASL) data are analyzed and incorporated. The last inseason Taku River terminal run size projection was 125,000 wild sockeye salmon. At this level, both the U.S. and Canada will fall well short of their ACs under the harvest sharing agreement that appears to have an 80%/20% U.S./Canada split based on enhancement efforts contributing less than 5,000 fish to the terminal run size. Escapement will likely exceed the upper end of the new escapement goal range of 40,000 – 75,000 fish.

The final postseason Taku River Chinook salmon run size estimate is not yet available but expansions from aerial surveys and preliminary mark-recapture data suggest an escapement of approximately 13,000 large fish. This will be the fifth consecutive year that escapement of Taku River large Chinook salmon has been below the goal range of 19,000 – 36,000 fish. No Chinook salmon were retained in commercial or recreational fisheries in Canada and GSI analysis is currently being conducted to provide a harvest estimate of Taku River large fish in District 11 fisheries.

2020 was a season that will be punctuated by recent-record lows in the District 11 drift gillnet fishery in terms of days fished, boats fished, and sockeye, coho, and chum salmon harvests. In addition to below recent 10-year average Taku River runs of Chinook, sockeye, and coho salmon, DIPAC chum salmon returns were forecasted to total nearly 1.7 million fish and most recent estimates suggest total returns of less than 800,000 fish.

The 2020 SEAK Drift Gillnet Fishery Management Plan can be found on the Southeast Management Plans webpage

Lynn Canal/District 15

The District 15 drift gillnet fishery opened on Sunday, September 13 for a 48- hour period. In Section 15-A, waters south of the latitude of Seduction Point opened to commercial fishing, and all waters of Section 15-C were open. Thirty-one boats made landings this week harvesting approximately 4,000 coho and 600 chum salmon, both below the 10-year average of 9,800 coho and 12,300 chum salmon. Fishing effort was less than half the 10-year average of 68 boats.

Escapement monitoring for Chilkoot River sockeye salmon ended on August 9. The final weir count of 60,218 sockeye salmon was within the escapement goal range of 38,000–86,000 fish. Escapement monitoring for Chilkat Lake sockeye salmon is still underway with approximately 75% of the run counted. The cumulative total passage through September 16 was 39,700 sockeye salmon which is well below the cumulative 10-year average of approximately 80,000 fish. Chilkat River coho and chum salmon fish wheel catches are also tracking below average at this time.

District 15 will open next week for two days in waters south of the latitude of Seduction Point and all waters of Section 15-C will be open. This will likely be the last opening of the season.

Yakutat Area Set Gillnet Fishery

The Situk River had a total of 57 permits harvest approximately 12,800 coho and 1 chum salmon. Fleet participation was average, but harvest was below average. The East Alsek River, Yakutat Bay, Kaliakh River, and Tsiu River were fished but less than three permits fished in each statistical area; harvest data are confidential. The Alsek River, Akwe River, Dangerous River, Manby-Inside, Manby-Outside and Seal River were not fished.

Escapement monitoring at the Situk River weir for sockeye salmon and Chinook salmon started on June 11. The weir was removed on August 7. Numbers still need to be checked for completeness but currently the count is 63,343 sockeye salmon and 1,192 large Chinook salmon. The upper end of the escapement goal for Chinook salmon has been exceeded and the mid-point for sockeye salmon escapement has been achieved. Aerial surveys were conducted for this week on the Tsiu River, Middle Italio River, and East Alsek River. Approximately 56,000 coho salmon were observed in the Tsiu River, 1,700 coho salmon in the Middle Italio River, and 10,000 sockeye salmon and 4,200 coho salmon in the East Alsek River respectively. Float surveys were conducted on the Situk River and Tawah Creek. Approximately 3,000 coho salmon were observed in the Situk River, and 750 coho salmon were observed in Tawah Creek.

Fishing times may be adjusted based on escapement into the Situk River statistical week 39. The Italio River will open by emergency order when adequate levels of escapement can be documented. The Situk-Ahrnklin Inlet and Yakutat Bay from Point Manby to Ocean Cape is continuing being open for individuals with dual permits to fish both permits.

Terminal Harvest Area (THA) Fisheries

Terminal Harvest Area (THA) gillnet fisheries occur in Nakat Inlet, Neets Bay, Anita Bay, Deep Inlet, and Boat Harbor. THA seine fisheries occur in Neets Bay, Kendrick Bay, Anita Bay, Deep Inlet, and Hidden Falls.

Nakat Inlet THA

The forecasted return for Nakat Inlet is 128,900 summer chum salmon and 57,600 fall chum salmon. Nakat Inlet opened continuously to the harvest of salmon by drift gillnet and troll gear on Monday, June 1. The summer chum salmon harvest is 166,000 chum salmon or 129% of the forecasted return. This total includes 83,000 chum salmon harvested by drift gillnet gear and 11,000 chum salmon harvested by purse seine gear in the traditional fishery and 72,000 chum salmon harvested in the THA. The fall chum salmon harvest is 8,000 chum salmon, 5,000 salmon by drift gillnet, 2,000 salmon by purse seine, and 1,000 salmon inside the THA.

For further information please refer to the 2020 Southeast Alaska Drift Gillnet Fishery Management Plan (PDF 765 kB) and for updates on Southern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association (SSRAA) contributions visit the SSRAA website external site link.

Neets Bay THA

The Neets Bay forecasted return is 662,300 summer chum salmon, 52,900 fall chum salmon, 11,400 Chinook salmon, and 108,800 coho salmon. Neets Bay opened to the harvest of salmon by troll gear on Monday, June 15, and by rotational fishery between drift gillnet and purse seine on Wednesday, June 17. Neets Bay closed to all gear groups on Monday, July 6 to provide the Southern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association (SSRAA) the opportunity to conduct cost recovery. The current common property harvest is 122,000 chum salmon or 18% of the summer chum salmon forecasted return. This total includes 30,000 salmon harvested by drift gillnet gear and 31,000 salmon harvested by purse seine gear in the traditional fishery and 2,000 salmon harvested by drift gillnet gear, 4,000 salmon harvested by purse seine gear, and 55,000 salmon harvested for cost recovery inside the THA. Additional harvest has occurred for both broodstock and a small amount of cost recovery. For Chinook salmon, 3,200 Chinook salmon were harvested by drift gillnet gear and 3,600 Chinook salmon were harvested by purse seine gear inside the THA.

For further information please refer to the ADF&G advisory announcement for Neets Bay and for updates on SSRAA contributions visit the SSRAA website external site link.

Kendrick Bay THA

The forecasted return for Kendrick Bay is 451,600 summer chum salmon. Kendrick Bay opened continuously to the harvest of salmon by purse seine gear on Monday, June 15. The current harvest is 171,000 chum salmon or 38% of the forecasted return. This total includes 97,000 salmon harvested by purse seine gear and 14,000 salmon harvested by drift gillnet gear in the traditional fishery and 60,000 salmon harvested inside the THA.

For further information please refer to the 2020 Southeast Alaska purse seine fishery management plan (PDF 790 kB) and for updates on SSRAA contributions visit the SSRAA website external site link.

Caroll Inlet THA

The forecasted return for Carroll Inlet is 7,000 Chinook salmon. The Carroll Inlet THA opened to the harvest of salmon by all gear groups on Monday, June 1, and closed to purse seine and drift gillnet on Friday, June 12. The rotational fishery between purse seine and drift gillnet began on Monday, June 15. Current harvest is 1,000 Chinook salmon by drift gillnet and 1,650 fish by purse seine gear.

For further information please refer to the ADF&G advisory announcement for Carroll Inlet and for updates on SSRAA contributions visit the SSRAA website external site link.

Anita Bay THA

The 2020 Anita Bay THA forecast includes: 11,000 Chinook salmon, 366,300 summer chum salmon, and 11,900 fall coho salmon. The preliminary commercial harvest to date is 7,700 Chinook, 19,700 chum, and 3,100 coho salmon.

For further information and updates on SSRAA contributions and updates visit the SSRAA website.

Deep Inlet THA

The Deep Inlet THA opened on June 2. Forecasted runs for Deep Inlet THA and Medvejie Hatchery includes 1,478,000 chum salmon, 10,700 Chinook salmon, and 110,000 coho salmon. This season, the Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association (NSRAA) does not anticipate cost recovery operations in the Deep Inlet THA but the THA was closed for broodstock collection on September 6. Seine harvest through September 4 was 2,500 Chinook and 396,000 chum salmon; gillnet harvest through September 2 was 3,650 Chinook and 204,250 chum salmon.

Hidden Falls THA

The first common property purse seine opening in the Hidden Falls THA occurred on June 21 and was followed by openings on June 25 and June 28. The Hidden Falls THA is now closed and subsequent openings will be dependent on inseason run strength. Forecasted runs for Hidden Falls THA includes 364,000 chum salmon, 27,000 coho salmon, and 850 Chinook salmon expected to return in 2020. The Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association (NSRAA) needs 200,000 chum salmon for broodstock, leaving 164,000 chum salmon available for common property harvests. Seine harvest through June 28 is 7,700 chum salmon.

Crawfish Inlet THA

A run of 1,579,000 chum salmon is forecasted to return to the Crawfish Inlet remote release site in 2020. No chum salmon are needed for broodstock this season. Purse seining was opened in Crawfish Inlet August 25 and fishing will continue until September 25 with Thursday, Friday, and Sunday openings. Seine harvest through September 13 for Crawfish Inlet THA was 842,000 chum salmon.