A Thousand Welcomes

Yukon salmon count down by half: official

Smeddum says

Like the honeybee the scientists                             refuse to look at the mechanism                               by which salmon navigate. see                              previous post

The number of spawning chinook salmon returning to the Yukon River is so low it’s unlikely there will be a commercial or sport fishery this year, a government official says.

And that’s despite restrictions Alaska has imposed on its section of the river to help protect the Yukon-bound salmon.

As of Sunday, only 26,000 fish had been counted coming into the mouth of the river, fewer than half the normal number, said Frank Quinn, director of the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

The numbers tell the story, Quinn said.

“Minimum 45,000 fish this year to meet our escapement goal, and then another 8,000 to 10,000 for First Nation communities, and then on top of that we would have been looking [at another] 55,000 before we could open a commercial domestic or sport fishing this year,” he said. “And unless there is a dramatic turn in the next little bit, it doesn’t look like that will happen.”

Officials in Alaska have cut the hours for aboriginal and subsistence fishing in half, and banned all commercial fishing for chinook salmon on the Yukon River to let the fish reach the spawning grounds, Quinn said, calling it a very conservative approach.

Nevertheless, he said, the chances of catching a chinook salmon this summer aren’t looking good because the fish simply aren’t there.

Quinn said biologists are surprised at the low fish count because many of these fish were spawned in 2003 when there were plenty of fish in the river. No one knows yet why so few fish are returning this year, he said.

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