Monday, November 7, 2011

Yukon notches strong fall chum, coho catches

Here are highlights from a Department of Fish and Game summary of the 2011 fall salmon season on the Yukon River:

• The commercial harvest of 238,979 fall chum salmon was the largest since 1995.

• The commercial harvest of 76,303 coho salmon was the largest since 1991.

• All salmon were sold "in the round" and no salmon roe was sold separately.

• The ex-vessel value of the catch was an excellent $2.1 million, including $1.6 million for fall chum and $478,960 for coho.

• A total of 410 permit holders participated in the fishery.


Anonymous said...

What. No whining by the AYKers when theres a glory story.

Anonymous said...

Where's Tim when you need him?

Anonymous said...

Oh look a shiny object. It almost makes a guy forget about the kings and summer chums.

Anonymous said...

$5,122 gross on average to each permit holder. Break out the champagne. We're in the money, we're in the money.

Anonymous said...

Tim say dance.

Anonymous said...

With the AYK folks, the glass will forever be half-empty. You'll never hear them acknowledge strong runs, yes including summer chums (which was closed to protect king escapement).

Anonymous said...

Word dat

Anonymous said...

Ungrateful wretches aren't we? The trawlers, Area M and Fish and Game mismanagers leave us a enough fall chums and silvers to buy part of an outboard and we're bitchin'. We should be happy to have anything at all, right?

Anonymous said...

Yeah...something like that. Maybe you can point out the data to support your allegations the Area M guys, or the trawlers, are getting your fall chum and coho. I can save you the effort--there is none--but go search it out, anyway. Coho?? That's a good one. You guys are too much.

Anonymous said...

True dat

Anonymous said...

There's a decent fall season in a modest upriver Yukon commercial fishery. Over 400 HUNDRED permits make landings (think about that one), and a guy gets on here and bitches that no one made any money. Amazing. Oh yeah, and its some one else's fault to boot.

Anonymous said...

Something must be wrong with my web browser. Did someone say anything about having data showing Area M or the trawlers were taking fall chum or silvers or that absence of data on interception of fall chums or silvers means that Area M and the pollock fleet are not taking salmon that could have been harvested by AYK fishermen?

My browser also lost the message explaining how $5k gross is "making money". It would have been making money in 1954 but there has been a lot of inflation since then.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, there's something definitely wrong with your browser.

Anonymous said...

Seeb, Lisa and Penelope Crane. 1995. Mixed Stock Analysis of Pacific Rim Chum Salmon in the 1993 and 1994 South Peninsula June Fisheries using Allozyme and Mitochondrial DNA data.

People believe what they want to believe, and often don't let trivial things like science get in the way. From this paper, for what its worth, presence of fall Yukon chum in Area M June (False Pass) fishery=ZERO. Look it up on your bum browser, and read it for yourself. Carry on.

Anonymous said...

I am well aware of the Seebs' study and its findings. I also know about the data, such as it is, on the stock composition of pollock trawl bycaught chums. I'll try to clarify my point.

Once upon a time Yukon River fishermen made their living fishing kings and summer chums, fall chums and silvers were a lesser, albeit important, component of the harvest.

Today, thanks in unknown part to Area M interception and pollock trawl bycatch, Yukon River fishermen aren't making anything that can be considered a living. Living costs are high out here and even when we get a good summer chum run we can't fish them because of king bycatch

You can't make a fishing career on the Yukon out of a halfway good fall chum run every 16 years or a halfway good silver run every twenty years even if you think $5,122 is good.

There are no data on river of origin for the silvers Area M catches. Mixed stock fisheries are hard to manage but that's a topic for another thread.

What I'm saying is that we get what remains of the salmon runs after everybody and their brothers get done intercepting them on the high seas and what is left is nothing to crow about regardless of what Wesley wrote above.

Anonymous said...

What about all the AYK roe stripping of said salmon?what about all the feces getting dumped in the rivers? All that has an impact on your runs too!!! You folks are more to blame than anyone else just buck up and admit it and maybe your problems can be fixed.

Anonymous said...

A AYK native once told me that his fishing income was doubled through some native only program. What up with that?

Anonymous said...

Natural environment variability, particularly on a AYK river system like the Yukon, which is on the northern range of the distribution of Pacific salmon, far outweighs any other factor in salmon returns.

However, AYK groups have made a whole industry out of finding some boogie man to finger for poor runs instead of recognizing this fact. Its the Area M guys, the trawlers, the hatcheries, or something (just not mother nature, apparently). To the point that not even a decent return gets acknowledged anymore. Nothing is driven by fact, everything is driven by feelings and emotions. The State has spent millions (in the case of the Seeb study) but the results just get ignored because it doesn't fit the narrative.

I'm sure its tough to make it as a salmon fishermen on the Yukon. Who said it wasn't? A look at the CFEC numbers show the fishery has always been pretty modest in terms of average grosses. If there was a time when fishermen could make a living fishing the Yukon, it was when prices were a lot higher, compared to the cost of living. Alaska is an expensive place to live, and freakishly so in the bush. Its an unsustainable situation, over the long haul.

But AYK folks going to war with fisheries that have minimal to no impact on their runs isn't the answer, but they just keep on doing it. Its such a needless waste of time and energy.

Anonymous said...

A million kings or thereabouts killed, wasted and underrepported by the pollock trawlers during 1991-2011 is no problemo, eh?

Is that what you are saying?

Anonymous said...

Now where did you get that data? A million kings my ass!!! At least try to be honest when you're stirring the pot.

Anonymous said...

Its about 800K, actually, or about 40K/yr over the 20 year period. Sounds like a lot, doesn't it? The problem is just throwing numbers out, without trying to provide any context to them.

You can go read this (at least try the abstract): Witherell, David et al. 2002. An Overview of Salmon Bycatch in Alaska Groundfish Fisheries. Alaska Fishery Research Bulletin 9(1).

cut and paste here:

Its a bit dated but worth looking at. Then articulate further what you see as the "problemo". BTW, I'm no fan of the trawl industry, by any means.

Anyway, its been an interesting exchange. I suppose nobody ever changes their views based on blog posts. Unfortunately, science and research don't seem to help much either.

Anonymous said...

Do you believe that all of the king salmon caught and wasted as bycatch during 1991-2011 were reported to NMFS? Would you be interested in buying some of my very affordable oceanfront property in South Dakota?

800,000 kings killed and wasted as pollock trawl bycatch is the minimum, the actual number is unknown. I think one million is a conservative estimate. In the early years, NMFS told me that they didn't count small juvenile salmon. What number would you use?

The "science" applicable to high seas salmon interception impacts on western Alaskan salmon runs can barely be dignified with that term. All we know scientifically is that the trawlers and Areal M kill a lot of salmon that would have been available for spawning or harvesting in western Alaska if they had not been intercepted. We don't know how many would have gone to the Yukon River.

It would be great if genetic stock identification worked better than it has so far. What the Seebs did with chums wasn't good for much. Ditto with Doug Eggers' 1987 chum tagging study. The existing king genetic stock identification science is not detailed enough to be useful.

We're holding our breath for WASSIP results that keep being postponed and full bycatch retention gives us something to hope for many years and millions of dollars in the future for trawl bycatch.

In the meantime, why not just significantly limit bycatch and see what happens? Why do they have a God given right to intercept our fish?

Anonymous said...

What makes them your fish? Why do you think they belong to you?

Anonymous said...

OK...parting post here on this subject. On trawl bycatch, since the pollock fleet has 100% observer coverage, one would assume the numbers reported are fairly accurate, at least over the last decade. What's your evidence the data is no good or biased low? Is it based on your belief or something more concrete? I'm gathering its your opinion only.

Just cause you don't like the studies that have been done doesn't mean that they're "not good for much". Again, goes back to my comments about people believing what they want to believe. The Seeb stuff was actually pretty cutting edge work. As I said, no fall Yukon chum present in the Area M fishery, for one finding. Maybe you could let folks know, so they can testify about something else when they come to Anchorage next winter to rail about Area M getting their fall chum.

I don't know how "a lot" is defined, but its almost impossible to make the case that these fisheries are catching more than a few percent of the fish returning to the Yukon. The stock ID work is certainly adequate to make that determination. Killing the Bering Sea pollock fishery, or the Area M salmon fishery might make a bunch of people on the Yukon feel good, but it doesn't make anyone's life better in any real way.

Also, its interesting you never mention the largest chum harvest in western Alaska (Bristol Bay) that catches more chum than Area M and the pollack fishery put together...yet no curiosity about "your" Yukon fish there? If you're about protectionism, then some intellectual curiosity there would seem to be in order.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @8:54 you ROCK please keep up the good work

Anonymous said...

The pollock trawl fishery hasn't had 100% observer coverage. During most of the period reported, the catcher vessels had 1/3 coverage. They know how to work the system to reduce reported bycatch. Trawl in an area where bycatch is known to be low past midnight, drop the observer off at the dock and you are good to go four days with no observer.

All of the observers I've talked to say that there is coercion, bribery and trickery to get them to underreport. Do you have scientific data independent of the observer program confirming the bycatch count's accuracy?

The Seeb study was able to discriminate fall chums from summer chums but could not split out specific western Alaska stocks which makes it fairly useless for assessing the impact on stocks of concern. I try to tell people from the Yukon what the data shows about things like fall chum but they don't want to hear it any more than people on the other side do. People believe what they want to believe and everybody tries to squeeze more conclusions out of the available data than is scientifically valid.

The data is not good enough to show percentages of fish going to specific rivers. This sucks for all of us. It really would be beneficial to have that information but the science doesn't support it yet.

Your statements about the potential benefits of reducing trawl bycatch or Area M interception might make you feel good but they are not based upon science.

Don't make the mistake of thinking that because I don't mention other possible intercept fisheries that I don't wish for information on the impact of those fisheries but wishing won't make the data magically appear.

Anonymous said...

Your just digging yourself a hole. Are you saying that all the observed tow data are useless because the observers take bribes and are easily "coerced"

And you seem to imply that if a scientific study doesn't benefit you it isn't good for anything.

AND what about all the chums that are caught in Bristol bay? After all it is a lot closer geographically than area M.

Anonymous said...

"Your just digging yourself a hole. Are you saying that all the observed tow data are useless because the observers take bribes and are easily "coerced""

No, I'm not saying that. I'm saying that the observer data is unconfirmed by the objective independent corroboration required to call it science. It's probably a good minimum count; it may be a good index showing trends but like all observed data, it is what it is; there is no objective way to evaluate its accuracy.

"And you seem to imply that if a scientific study doesn't benefit you it isn't good for anything."

And you seem to misrepresent what I have said to make a point.

"AND what about all the chums that are caught in Bristol bay? After all it is a lot closer geographically than area M."

That could be a contributing factor alright but I don't have any relevant data on that, do you?

Anonymous said...

Relevant data doesn't seem to matter to you!!!

Anonymous said...

If you have some relevant data, why not provide a link to it and I'll let you know if it matters to me?

Anonymous said...

40% of the pollock gets allocated to the C/P fleet which has two observers on board, so they have 24/hr day coverage. Catcher boats over 125 ft. have 100% coverage, catcher boats <125' have 1/3 coverage. There may be a few cases of under reporting, sure, but I doubt its endemic in the fishery. My point was that the coverage is extensive enough that one can conclude the numbers are probably pretty accurate, certainly enough to use as the basis for management decisions.

I raise the point of Bristol Bay chum harvest to illustrate the inconsistency in the position of AYK advocates regarding Area M. There is a chum harvest in BB which is usually about twice the Area M June fishery harvest and is much closer geographically, yet in the many years I've spent around this issue, I've NEVER, EVER heard a single AYK group--not AVCP, not TCC, not YRDFA, nobody from Norton Sound--even ask the question or raise the issue of potential AYK chum in this harvest, or even ask for basic research on the issue. Nothing. Hell, forget the groups, I've never heard a single individual ask. Deafening silence. In contrast, we've had what I would characterize as near-hysteria in western AK over Area M chum harvest in the past. Its an interesting contradiction, no?

Further, we know from GSI work in BB that significant numbers of Kuskokwim sockeye are harvested in the Togiak District of BB. Enough so, that if I was a Goodnews fishermen, my eyebrows would certainly go up. Is it that much of a stretch to imagine the same might be true for chum? If there were, I'm not suggesting that there is much may be done about it without dramatically impacting the BB fishery. But why wouldn't one even ask the question if there are true concerns over AYK conservation or allocation issues? Its much easier to go after the guys way down the coast, than ask your neighbors some tough questions, I get that.

This this goes to the AYK "urban myth", cultivated over the last 30 years, that Area M is the source of most or all their perceived salmon problems. That's the story, and everyone sticks to it. I'm dubious that any science will change that.

Anonymous said...

You make some good points but that's a pretty broad brush you are using to tar everyone in AYK as having the same tunnel vision. Many people in AYK have a fanatical obsession with Area M but believe it or not, some of us are aware of the data limitations and the existence of potential alternative intercept fisheries.

I have spoken and written about these information gaps, apparently you missed it but you know what they say about trees falling in forests.

You have a lot more faith in the observer counts than I do and your faith contrasts with what I have heard from people who have worked as observers. I don't have any firsthand experience as an observer but there are so many loopholes available to the industry to prevent accurate bycatch counts, I have to wonder why they wouldn't use them.

Have you ever wondered why the only "scientific" data we have on Area M chum salmon stream of origin comes from a twenty-four year old poorly done tagging study by Doug Eggers and a sixteen year old GSI study by Lisa Seeb? Even if the information was applicable when it was published, it is a leap to think that it still is today.

There has been a pile of money spent on salmon research but nothing that's come out yet tells us anything useful about the impact of the various non-local commercial fisheries on AYK stocks. It's almost as if there is a conspiracy to prevent us from knowing what is going on. No matter how much lipstick you slap on, the available information it still smells like pork. Hopefully WASSIP will change that if the results are ever released. Until then we just don't know.

There is no way that you or I will ever convince the most extreme of the AYK zealots to look at a bigger picture even when you explain how it would be in their best interest to do so. However, I'm not as convinced as you are that the majority of people living in AYK would reject solid scientific findings if we had any. I think it is worth a try. Let's collect some useful data, put it out for review and let the chips fall where they may.

It is unbelievable to me that we have spent decades and millions of dollars fighting this battle without either side having probative evidence supporting their entrenched position.

Anonymous said...

Deckboss reported on this back in 2009...

Monday, December 21, 2009
Bristol Bay — intercept fishery
Veteran observers of Alaska's salmon fisheries have long heard complaints out of Bristol Bay about fishermen at False Pass
"intercepting" sockeye supposedly bound for the bay.

But you know the old adage about rocks and glass houses.

Just check out this new report from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

It's a fascinating study of the genetic stock composition of sockeye harvests in Bristol Bay during the years 2006 through 2008.

The really interesting stuff is on pages 18-22.

Generally, the findings aren't surprising; the vast majority of sockeye salmon harvested in the bay originate from local stocks.

But we find an eye-opener in the numbers for the Togiak District, the westernmost and least productive of the bay's five fishing districts.

Researchers determined a substantial percentage of the Togiak harvest actually originates from the Kuskokwim stock in western Alaska.

In 2006, Kuskokwim sockeye accounted for nearly 28 percent of the Togiak harvest, or 174,206 fish. In 2008, the Kusko component was more than 25 percent, while in 2007 it was 13.5 percent.

Like many Bristol Bay gillnetters, folks in western Alaska have been critical of the False Pass fishery for picking off "their" salmon.

When it comes to sockeye interceptions, looks like some of the pickin' is in Bristol Bay.

Posted by Deckboss at 12:23 AM Labels: Bristol Bay, intercept, Kuskokwim, sockeye, Togiak

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the repost on the Kusko/Togiak sockeye catches. It will be interesting to see what happens there, if anything. Salmon are interesting animals, people think they "know" what's going on, then you put tags on the fish, or do GSI work and you often find out things you might never have considered before.

Yes, perhaps my brush is too broad. I take your point. I'm admittedly a bit jaded on this issue. Perhaps the WASSIP study will be a game changer in the dynamic between AYK and Area M, but I don't hold my breath. I wish I shared your optimism on that.

As you are undoubtedly aware, there are significant hurdles to overcome in distinguishing the AYK summer chum stocks. They are amazingly similar genetically, and its unclear, at least as I understand it, that the genetic technology has advanced enough since the Seeb's work to break these groups apart. We'll see. I hear the report will be out next winter.

Personally, I would have rather seen the considerable amount of money spent for WASSIP (maybe 8 million or more) on something I would consider important--like trying to figure out how many chum actually go up some of these AYK rivers. We really have no idea on the Kuskokwim for example...the second largest river in the State and we have only indexes or crude estimations. Its really embarrassing, and ought to be a full out funding and research priority for the State. How do you make judgments about stock status and management when you only have half-assed estimates of what your escapements are. How do you even properly manage a commercial fishery? How much opportunity for AYK fishermen is foregone by over conservative management due to lack of data? Instead we get wrapped around the axle about stuff like how many chums caught in Area M are going to some river 400 miles away. As I said earlier, its such a needless waste of time and energy.

I do wish the Yukon is stuffed with kings and chums next summer, and that the commercial guys on the river have great seasons. I sincerely mean that.

Anonymous said...

They should just move if they can't make a living where they live now, everybody else has to. It's the American way

Anonymous said...

If it is the American way, why did they bail out GM?

Anonymous said...

Because GM is vital to our national security, manufacturing plants supplying weapon and troop carriers. When we close down the last US auto plant, aircraft plant and shipyard, we will be vulnerable to foreign domination. Haven't read your history books lately, have you?