Earlier in March 2018, the Alaska Department of Fish & Game announced that it was expecting returning king salmon in the Deshka River to be about 200 less than base goals. Because there are some expectancies in terms of the spawning for king salmon this year and the forecast is about a couple hundred lower than the initial figures, several preseason actions were taken this year.Photo by Tom Hart
What were these changes? Apparently, on several of the somewhat remote fisheries, anglers would have to use the catch and release policy instead of keeping their targets. Those fisheries located on the Western side of the Susitna Drainage are, however, privileged as those that can be found along the Parks Highway will have to be closed. This measure was taken to preserve the king salmon population in the area and to make sure that fishers do not accidentally affect their spawning.
The emergency orders released by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game detailed several other changes. For example, anglers are said to be allowed to keep the fish they have caught only Friday to Monday. All of the king salmon exemplaries caught on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday need to be released immediately.
This year, any sport fishing for this particular species in the rest of the river drainage we’ve mentioned above will be closed. There are no harvests allowed in the Yentna and Deshka river system, but catch-and-release is allowed in these areas. Furthermore, it’s worth mentioning that for all the remainder of this year, commercial fishing for king salmon by using set-nets will be closed. This change affects all of the waters in the Northern District of the Upper Cook-Inlet.
According to Matt Miller, the management coordinator with Alaska Department of Fish and Game at Southcentral regional fisheries, there has been a significant decline in this species along the Cook Inlet. Although the reasons for this having happened are yet unclear, the decision to give up sport fishing for king salmon seems to have been made to preserve the population and promote the spawning as efficiently as possible.
One possible reason for the decline in the king salmon population could be that once they leave the fresh water and move into the salt water, there’s a high mortality rate that occurs. The department’s decision will likely affect local tourism in the impacted regions. Unfortunately, there is no other way of solving the problem regardless the effect that this set of measures might have on the tourism and the anglers who visit the region regularly every year. Going for your telescopic rod this year to target some king salmon might not be feasible in these Alaskan areas.
In the end, the sustainability of the fisheries stocks seems to be far more important even if there are people who will inevitably be impacted by the decision. The restrictions are effective from May 1st through July 13th, 2018.