Here are a few quotes from Friday's press conference with Gov. Sean Parnell and Fish and Game Commissioner Cora Campbell.
They discussed the poor Chinook salmon runs in parts of Alaska this season, and what the administration plans to do in response.
I've asked the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to assemble a team of Alaska's top fisheries scientists to develop and implement a comprehensive fisheries research plan.
Just in the last year, we have requested funding in millions of dollars for Chinook salmon research, but this is above and beyond those earlier requests.
The fisheries research plan, to be completed this fall, must first evaluate what we know about Chinook salmon stocks; second, increase our understanding of the reasons behind the recent declines; and third, I want them to make recommendations for improvement.
Some of the rivers in Alaska are experiencing their worst Chinook salmon runs in many years. And we don't expect a sudden, dramatic rebound. We're experiencing a long-term trend of low abundance that's a real hardship for Alaskans who rely on and value Chinook salmon.
And although the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has one of the best salmon management programs in the world, we do have gaps in our knowledge about Chinook salmon, and the causes of this period of low abundance cannot be precisely defined at this time.
The research plan that our scientists are developing is designed to identify indicator stocks that will provide fisheries managers with a statewide index of Chinook salmon stocks that represent a wide range, from Southeast Alaska all the way to Arctic waters.
And the scientists will evaluate all the data that we have about those stocks, against the specific knowledge areas that we know to be important for understanding Chinook salmon abundance, run timing, productivity and health. And they'll identify areas where our knowledge is robust, and areas where there are gaps in our knowledge.
And once they have that assessment of those knowledge gaps, they'll be able to recommend to us research projects that will fill those knowledge gaps and answer these key questions that we have about what's going on with Chinook salmon.
And we're going to be cooperating with federal scientists as we develop this plan.
We've also reached out to hatchery scientists with the goal of determining how additional Chinook salmon enhancement might contribute to a broader plan to address abundance declines. In many areas of Alaska, Chinook salmon stocking and enhancement is an important component of sport and commercial fisheries. And we're interested in exploring how that might represent an additional tool for addressing the current production declines.
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