Updated: Mar 3
As all of Southeast Alaska's charter fishing fleet eagerly wait for the 2017 King salmon regulations to be released by emergency order, we thought it would be an excellent time to share some history on how the sport fishing of King salmon is regulated here in Alaska. Plus a few stunning pictures of the annual Sitka Sac Roe Herring Fishery are included.
Tens of thousands of anglers travel to Southeast Alaska to experience charter fishing every summer and oceanic King salmon remain one of the most popular species sought by sport fishermen. The management of the King salmon species is quite complicated and involves regulatory committees on the international and domestic level.
The United States and Canada signed the Pacific Salmon Treaty in 1985. Included in this treaty was the management and conservation of King salmon harvests in Southeast Alaska. By 1992, the Alaska Board of Fisheries adopted the Southeast Alaska King Salmon Management Plan and measures were put into place to control the sport fishing bag and possession limits.
By 1999, Southeast Alaska's annual harvest level was based on the coastal King salmon abundance - which generates the best available preseason abundance index and is determined by the Chinook Technical Committee of the Pacific Salmon Committee. The preseason abundance index is generated using a complex statistical model and is released to the public every Spring prior to the beginning of most fishing.
In 2003, the Alaska Board of Fisheries required the Alaska Department of Fish & Game to establish King salmon bag, possession, and annual limits by emergency order set by the Southeast Alaska King Salmon Management Plan.
The Board of Fisheries revised the management plan again in 2006 by increasing King salmon sport harvests when the abundance index is high (above 1.5) and to reduce harvests when the abundance index is low (below 1.1) by emergency order.
Provided below is the preseason Abundance Index (AI) with the corresponding Non-resident daily and annual limits of King salmon:
AI >1.2 - 1.5: 1 Daily; 3 Annual
AI 1.51 - 1.75: 2 Daily (May), 1 Daily (June 1st - rest of year); 4 or 5 Annual
AI 1.76 - 2: 2 Daily (May), 1 Daily (June 1st - rest of year); 5 or 6 Annual
AI > 2: 2 Daily (May & June), 1 Daily (July 1st - rest of year); 6 Annual
Here is the King Salmon preseason abundance indices for previous years:
If the preseason abundance index is not available by May 1st, the bag and possession limits will be based on the prior year's preseason abundance index. This was the case for the year 2015.
Southeast Alaska boasts excellent King salmon fishing from May - August, with the peak in the month of June. Sitka, in particular, has the highest catch rates of King salmon in all of Alaska. As we patiently wait for the new 2017 King salmon regulations to be released, we pray for another high abundance index.