Lower Yukon Commercial Dip Net Fishery Better than Anticipated

Harvesters on the Lower Yukon
River have landed close to 50,000 oil rich Yukon summer chums to date in the
river’s first commercial dip net fishery.

“It’s going very well, way
better than anyone anticipated,” said Jack Schultheis, sales manager for
Kwik’Pak Fisheries at Emmonak, a subsidiary of the Yukon Delta Fisheries
Development Association established in 2001. “We bought the gear in
anticipation that they would have the fishery and they opened it on June 18,
and it kind of took hold.” 

“This is the second day in a row that I did 10,000 fish,” Schultheis said in an
interview on June 25. “Last year at this time I had nothing, so I’m well ahead
of last year.

“It’s very successful.  The fishermen are enjoying it, and I’ve had
some customers down here who just loved the fish they saw.”

Kwik’Pak has buyers coming
from the Lower 48 states, as well as Europe.

The dip net caught chums are
very high quality, with no net marks, and average 6.4 pounds to 6.5 pounds, he

The dip nets allow for a chum
fishery while protecting king salmon escapement up the Yukon River toward the
Canadian border, in compliance with an agreement with the Canadian government.
Regulations adopted by the Alaska Board of Fisheries this past winter allow for
this first time use of dip nets for commercial harvests, with any king salmon
caught in the nets to be released.

Schultheis said he had 164
people working and that he expected the summer chum drift fishery to open by
this coming weekend. Kwik’Pak’s efforts are aimed at improving the regional
economy through local employment, training and educational opportunities, while
supporting small businesses in villages along the river.