The South Peninsula fishing fleet, which has faced criticism in the past for allegedly harvesting chum salmon headed for the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim, voted for the second consecutive year to have seiners sit out the first opening of this year’s salmon fishery.
According to the Aleutians East Borough, the fleet heeded word from subsistence fishermen that chum-to-sockeye ratios were still high on the eve of the first opening.
For years now the Alaska Board of Fisheries has heard concerns voiced by commercial and subsistence fishermen in the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta that the Area M fish harvests have affected commercial and subsistence chum salmon runs. The Board of Fisheries in 2004 lifted restrictions to pre-2001 levels after finding no evidence that previous restrictions on salmon fishing resulted in any improvement in chum runs to the A-Y-K.
Laura Tanis, communications manager for the Aleutians East Borough, said that there are 59 permits held by area residents, plus another 35 held by out-of-state commercial harvesters.
Tanis said the South Peninsula fleet hopes that voluntary steps like this stand down will help the fleet garner maximum sockeye salmon harvests without stirring up the controversy that accompanies large chum catches.
The South Peninsula fleet also stood down for the first opener last year.