Strong Fall Chum Salmon Harvest Welcomed On Lower Yukon

A strong harvest of succulent fall chum salmon is cheering Lower
Yukon River commercial fishermen, easing the economic pain of a restricted summer
chum harvest required for escapement of king salmon to Canada.
“It’s as good or better than last year, which was a record year
for us,” said Jack Schultheis, sales manager for Kwik’Pak Fisheries, a subsidiary
of the Yukon Delta Fisheries Development Association.

“The fall run is turning out to be really good for us,” Schultheis
said. “We did more fall fish than we did a year ago, so we were really happy with
how that turned out.
“It was a good, healthy run this year and the fish showed it,
a little bigger than average. It wasn’t the best ever, but it was darn good.”
As of Sept. 14, the preliminary harvest total for the Lower Yukon
was 473,000 chum and 68,000 silver salmon, according to the Alaska Department of
Fish and Game.
Commercial as well as subsistence fisheries are critical to the
economy of Emmonak, where Kwik’Pak’s fish processing facilities are based, as well
as other villages along the Lower Yukon River. The area lies in the Wade Hampton
Census Area, which has one of the highest areas of unemployment in the state. Residents,
predominantly Yup’ik Eskimos, have harvested wild salmon here for thousands of years.
Schultheis said much of the fall chum salmon harvest delivered
to Kwik’Pak was filleted, while the rest was headed and gutted. About half of the
harvest went to buyers in the United States, and the rest to overseas markets.
Demand for the oil-rich Yukon summer and fall chum continues
to exceed supply, Schultheis said.