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Thread: Kenai ER chinook lost in the shuffle

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    Default Kenai ER chinook lost in the shuffle

    With the contentious controversy surrounding LR Kenai kings taking center stage on this forum lately, equally pressing ER issues have been completely overshadowed.

    Well, just like the LR, it seems ADFG is convinced we've been putting way too many on the gravel.

    Based on the foregoing analysis, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game recommends a sustainable escapement goal (SEG; definition in 5 ACC 39.222 [f][36]) of 3,8008,500 Kenai River early-run Chinook salmon.

    http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/FedAidpdfs/FMS13-03.pdf

    Can't help but believe this was the over-riding consideration for arriving at the "new and improved" goal

    It is important to note that goal setting involves trade-offs. As explained above, elevating the goal slightly provides a safety factor in favor of higher escapements, however it may also reduce harvest opportunity during future periods of low abundance.

    JFC......
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    Quote Originally Posted by fishNphysician View Post
    With the contentious controversy surrounding LR Kenai kings taking center stage on this forum lately, equally pressing ER issues have been completely overshadowed.

    Well, just like the LR, it seems ADFG is convinced we've been putting way too many on the gravel.

    Based on the foregoing analysis, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game recommends a sustainable escapement goal (SEG; definition in 5 ACC 39.222 [f][36]) of 3,8008,500 Kenai River early-run Chinook salmon.

    http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/FedAidpdfs/FMS13-03.pdf

    Can't help but believe this was the over-riding consideration for arriving at the "new and improved" goal

    It is important to note that goal setting involves trade-offs. As explained above, elevating the goal slightly provides a safety factor in favor of higher escapements, however it may also reduce harvest opportunity during future periods of low abundance.

    JFC......
    You're right Doc, not enough attention paid to the early run report.

    I'm just getting familiar with it. A couple things that stand out to me.

    As you quoted, ADFG states they elevated the goal from their MSY prediction, just as in the late run.

    Their multiplication factor for the didson was 1.55. That's higher than the 1.28 for the late run. Wondering about that, same sonar, same location. It does cast some doubt on sticky Ricky's theory that the late run goal was a conspiracy by the , why wouldn't that be 1.55 as well?

    Did you check out the graph on the last page? If I read that correctly, it suggests that by June 15th, over half of the fish entering the river are mainstem spawners? Why is this buried in the back and not mentioned anywhere else? Is this new or something that has been known for some time?

    More later, thanks for this thread Doc, it's important.

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    Quote Originally Posted by smithtb View Post
    You're right Doc, not enough attention paid to the early run report.

    I'm just getting familiar with it. A couple things that stand out to me.

    As you quoted, ADFG states they elevated the goal from their MSY prediction, just as in the late run.

    Their multiplication factor for the didson was 1.55. That's higher than the 1.28 for the late run. Wondering about that, same sonar, same location. It does cast some doubt on sticky Ricky's theory that the late run goal was a conspiracy by the , why wouldn't that be 1.55 as well?

    Did you check out the graph on the last page? If I read that correctly, it suggests that by June 15th, over half of the fish entering the river are mainstem spawners? Why is this buried in the back and not mentioned anywhere else? Is this new or something that has been known for some time?

    More later, thanks for this thread Doc, it's important.
    Maybe the correction factor is sure to more sockeye contamination in the second run. But I have no idea, and no idea how they even came up with the correction number to start with.

    As far as the main stem spawners, the kenai really has tributary spawners and main stem spawners, tributary spawners generally come in earlier while the main stem spawners come in a little later in june (typically) and continue into august, there is no genetic difference in the main stem spawners between a june fish and august fish, there is a difference in tributary spawners.

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    Why exactly are we managing for two different runs?

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    Quote Originally Posted by smithtb View Post
    Why exactly are we managing for two different runs?
    I'm just passing along what the biologist that was taking samples told me. Imo, basically the early run is managed for tributary spawners and soul the genetic work that is being done will lead to changes in management.

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    I hear you.

    I was asking generally.

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    Quote Originally Posted by smithtb View Post
    Did you check out the graph on the last page? If I read that correctly, it suggests that by June 15th, over half of the fish entering the river are mainstem spawners? Why is this buried in the back and not mentioned anywhere else? Is this new or something that has been known for some time?
    McKinley quantified the overlap in the run timing of tributary and mainstem spawning Kenai River Chinook salmon during the years 20032007. Chinook salmon in spawning condition were sampled in 10 different mainstem areas and tributaries of the Kenai River to develop a genetic baseline database. Additionally, mixture samples for tributary versus mainstem run-timing estimates were collected via an existing netting program as they entered the lower Kenai River. Based on the lower river mixture sampling, most of the Chinook salmon that enter the Kenai River prior to the middle of June are of tributary origin; depending on the year, after the second or third week in June, mainstem fish become more predominant (Appendix D2).

    Few tributary
    spawning Chinook salmon enter the Kenai River in July. Results from the lower river sport fishery mixture sampling demonstrate that 1) most of the harvest in May and June is of tributary-bound fish, and 2) nearly all of the harvest in July is of mainstem-bound fish. The middle river sport fishery mixture sampling results indicate that 1) most of the harvest in June is of tributary-bound fish, 2) the harvest in the first two weeks of July is nearly an equal mix of tributary- and mainstem-bound fish, and 3) nearly all of the harvest in the last two weeks in July is of mainstem-bound fish
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    Thanks Doc, good info. Was the sport fishery mixture sampling mentioned in your second paragraph also done between 03-07? Was is actually a sampling of harvest, or a reflection of test netting? I wonder how much this ratio has changed over time.

    The reason I ask is this. We all know that Kings aren't doing well in the salt. Obviously, that is the common problem with AK King stocks. But with the Early/Late Kenai run, I think we may be dealing with two different inriver problems that haven't helped. It's no secret that many ER Kings hang out in the main stem and over the years have been harvested as late run. Even if there was a 50/50 split of ER/LR kings in the river, the harvest of large ER Kings may be higher due to selective harvest of larger Kings and C&R of smaller, less desirable LR fish.

    I'm not bringing this up to bash the inriver fishery. We know now what we didn't know then, so let's fix it. I just want to know if these runs are suffering from two different problems. Is is possible that the ER has been overfished, and the LR is simply experiencing low return? Is it perhaps even possible, as all ADFG data suggests, that we hugely overescaped the river with LR Kings for a few years, and that is playing into the present situation?

    I know that it seems unlikely that the ER would be overfished while the LR was overescaped. But... the fact that for years we have been counting many mainstem fish that enter the river in June as ER, and that we have been harvesting many large trib spawners in July as LR would also make this possible, wouldn't it? If the counts continue to be low early in the season, and pick up again later, wouldn't that also support this theory?

    Thanks again for the info.

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    Trib spawners have the benefit of entering the lower river when exploitation is at its absolute lowest. Single hook no bait slot limit and at least 1-2 weeks of horrible fishing conditons due to the annual Killey dump.... all makes for limited participation and overall poor catching.

    Once effort jumps in July, most trib spawners have passed the zone below Soldotna bridge. While a significant number are harvested above the bridge in the first half of July, many of those fish eventually hit sanctuary water where they are no longer exposed to the fleet. That is the saving grace for trib spawners.

    BUT....

    Mainstem spawners get no such reprieve. For them, there is no sanctuary water. Once they enter the river, the overwhelming majority (nearly all) NEVER leave the open fishing zone.... except in a cold dark aluminum box. The earlier that main stem spawner enters the river, the greater its window of vulnerability to the fleet, perhaps its ENTIRE streamlife. The unavoidable result is that the front-end of the mainstem spawning population is made to bear horribly disproportionate exploitation by the rec fleet.

    At one time, the mainstem spawners made up a very substantial portion of the ER... back in the Bendock days (1989-1991) it was 25%. It makes total sense that the biggest void in the dwindling ER (defined as passing the counter before July 1) is the mainstem spawning component. That front end has been systematically wiped out thru decades of disproportionate exploitation.

    And we are probably witnessing the same thing happening to the portion of the LR that enters the river in early July. Effort jumps by an order of magnitude come July 1 because of bait and lifting of the slot limit. Fish entering in early July are ultimately subjected to the most intense fishing of the entire season. Again its a case of disproportionate exploitation that correlates to earlier run-timing. The vast majority of the big fish that used to return in the first half of the month have been all but wiped out.... hence the preponderance of jacks for 2-3 weeks in early July.

    For LR fish (again, defined as those passing the counter after June 30) there is no sanctuary water. The only reprieve the LR fish get is the season closure on Aug 1. For those that return early in July, that's of little solace.... it's already too late.
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    Quote Originally Posted by fishNphysician View Post
    Trib spawners have the benefit of entering the lower river when exploitation is at its absolute lowest. Single hook no bait slot limit and at least 1-2 weeks of horrible fishing conditons due to the annual Killey dump.... all makes for limited participation and overall poor catching.

    Once effort jumps in July, most trib spawners have passed the zone below Soldotna bridge. While a significant number are harvested above the bridge in the first half of July, many of those fish eventually hit sanctuary water where they are no longer exposed to the fleet. That is the saving grace for trib spawners.

    BUT....

    Mainstem spawners get no such reprieve. For them, there is no sanctuary water. Once they enter the river, the overwhelming majority (nearly all) NEVER leave the open fishing zone.... except in a cold dark aluminum box. The earlier that main stem spawner enters the river, the greater its window of vulnerability to the fleet, perhaps its ENTIRE streamlife. The unavoidable result is that the front-end of the mainstem spawning population is made to bear horribly disproportionate exploitation by the rec fleet.

    At one time, the mainstem spawners made up a very substantial portion of the ER... back in the Bendock days (1989-1991) it was 25%. It makes total sense that the biggest void in the dwindling ER (defined as passing the counter before July 1) is the mainstem spawning component. That front end has been systematically wiped out thru decades of disproportionate exploitation.

    And we are probably witnessing the same thing happening to the portion of the LR that enters the river in early July. Effort jumps by an order of magnitude come July 1 because of bait and lifting of the slot limit. Fish entering in early July are ultimately subjected to the most intense fishing of the entire season. Again its a case of disproportionate exploitation that correlates to earlier run-timing. The vast majority of the big fish that used to return in the first half of the month have been all but wiped out.... hence the preponderance of jacks for 2-3 weeks in early July.

    For LR fish (again, defined as those passing the counter after June 30) there is no sanctuary water. The only reprieve the LR fish get is the season closure on Aug 1. For those that return early in July, that's of little solace.... it's already too late.

    This is exactly why the run-timing of the LR Chinook may be shifting into August. If the LR Chinook that enter the river in July experience a really high exploitation rate, while the LR Chinook fish that enter the river in August experience almost zero exploitation, it doesn't take many generations for the fish to shift their run-timing into August. The August arriving fish are doing the spawning, and have the highest success rate. The July fish have neither. Differential exploitation rates can alter the genetic composition of a stock of fish, sometimes very quickly.

    Is this happening on the Kenai Rv? I have absolutely zero data to support that hypothesis, but it makes for a good discussion, albeit entirely theoretical.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cohoangler View Post
    This is exactly why the run-timing of the LR Chinook may be shifting into August. If the LR Chinook that enter the river in July experience a really high exploitation rate, while the LR Chinook fish that enter the river in August experience almost zero exploitation, it doesn't take many generations for the fish to shift their run-timing into August. The August arriving fish are doing the spawning, and have the highest success rate. The July fish have neither. Differential exploitation rates can alter the genetic composition of a stock of fish, sometimes very quickly.

    Is this happening on the Kenai Rv? I have absolutely zero data to support that hypothesis, but it makes for a good discussion, albeit entirely theoretical.


    . . . . . +1

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    This thread is rich.......if the ER Kenai Chinook are getting lost in the shuffle it's due to folks like Doc and KRSA. It doesn't fit into the "ban all UCI commercial salmonfishing" or the "me, me, me" agenda as there is no commercial fishery during the ER.......unless you want to say the ER is now the LR and therefore impacted....and that is a goofy theory.

    I would fully support extended "sanctuary waters" doc. Would you? For example no directed fishing above a certain rivermile? or extended closures for likely spawning, or resting habitat? What about when harvest is allowed to occur (but maybe returns are on the low end of escapement) you are allowed to land one fish, then quit. Regardless if you keep it or not?

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    A little discussion on Sanctuary waters. Ever since 2008 when the in place sanctuaries were changed from closing on June 25th thru July 15th to closed entirely during king season, there has been close to zero participation on the ER king fishery upstream of the Soldotna bridge. ER fish are tributary spawners and the sanctuaries in place are safe zones for these fish to rest before making the trip up their tributary river. I am basing my opinions on my on the water experience over the last 12 years, but it is my opinion that participation and exploitation on the ER Kenai kings is way down since the change in 2008. I would go so far as to say, as having very minimal impact.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sockeye Charlie View Post
    A little discussion on Sanctuary waters. Ever since 2008 when the in place sanctuaries were changed from closing on June 25th thru July 15th to closed entirely during king season, there has been close to zero participation on the ER king fishery upstream of the Soldotna bridge. ER fish are tributary spawners and the sanctuaries in place are safe zones for these fish to rest before making the trip up their tributary river. I am basing my opinions on my on the water experience over the last 12 years, but it is my opinion that participation and exploitation on the ER Kenai kings is way down since the change in 2008. I would go so far as to say, as having very minimal impact.

    Thanks, Sockeye Charlie, that information is worth noting. For one thing, it makes their decline in numbers even more inexplicable in terms in-river causes.

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    There are a number of problems with the ER and LR chinook and ADF&G and the public need to really take a close look. For example, genetic sampling is being misused to classify Kenai River chinook salmon. As cohoangler points out genetics can control run timing so overharvest of one component can cause a shift in run timing. We are not in the hatchery thread but that is one outcome of hatchery egg takes (two week shift in run timing for coho salmon in the Northern District streams for example has been documented). Next calling these tributary and mainstem spawners is too simplistic. I would suggest those interested read " Viable Salmoid Populations and the Recovery of Evolutionarily Significant Units" by Paul McElhany. It is NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-NWFSC-42.

    I just will point out that there are four factors that form the key to population viability status. They are abundance, population growth rate, population spatial structure, and diversity. Notice the word population is used. That means for a system like the Kenai River we have numerous populations of chinook salmon and each should be looked at and not just a total escapement number. For example the ER goal includes historical data for Slikok Creek when it was producing hundreds of chinook. Today it is producing less than 20 female spawners and is at high risk of extinction. So the public and biologists need to get into the nuts and bolts of these populations. Unfortunately, ADF&G refuses to deal with in-river studies that would help provide data on these four key elements.

    Again not to get into hatcheries but diversity is a key element of wild populations. From the report diversity allows a species to use a wider array of environments, it protects a species against short term spatial and temporal changes in the environment, and genetic diversity provides the raw material for surviving ling term environmental change. To conserve the adaptive diversity one would conserve the environment to which they are adapted, allow natural process of regeneration and disturbance to occur, and limit or remove human-caused selection or straying that weakens the adaptive fit between salmonid population and its environment or limits a populations ability to respond to natural selection.

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    Component component component, I complimented you on habitat ordinance thread and now have to ask what the h e double hockey sticks are you talking about? I read the er and LR reports done this year the new ones and I think they are questionable both say we we have by and large been meeting or going over goals for both runs period. If runs are low it is not because the stocks have been over harvested rather reverse is true if not true then something else is happening, what is it? Then run is not low because a couple hundred fish are not going to Slikok it is because thousand Sade not going someplace else. If both were producing "normally" this what not be a thread. I do not get the logic. Help me understand the thinking here

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    If years of over harvest of the trib stocks red Charlie speaks of is no longer happening then at some time relatively soon if that was "it" the problem should go away. The reports fish and game did this winter show low harvest compared to other years and good spawned numbers. it is unfortunately c&r now so not much of a fishery. Is this what's happening now as far as not much of a fishery for recent years with good (according to f&g reports) good stuff or still bad stuff for kings?

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    Powerline - let me try and clear this up. Take the early run. If you read the genetic report and look at the last page of the escapement goal report you will see a curve of ER entry pattern. That pattern needs to be examined relative to the management actions and how data is used. They are in conflict right now. I do not have time this morning to go into details but will try latter. Let me say that if you examine the data it appears that by counting early run fish to June 30 and with the sockeye contamination of the counts that ADF&G over-estimated the size of the ER significantly. Then when you examine the harvest and account for the same arbitrary date impact the harvest of ER is under-estimated. So there are two factors that lead to the real potential of over-harvest of early run fish that spawn in the main stem and tributaries. One cannot use the counts, even corrected in the report, because the date used to separate the two returns is so arbitrary. Thus production for the ER can be partially explained by over-harvest as Doc pointed out earlier.

    For the LR you are correct that lack of harvest in the brood years for recent returns is one possible explanation and ADF&G indicated that to be true. However, what I was going for was trying to understand the production potential of the LR from egg to adult instead of just doing adult work. That would allow one to look at populations of LR fish in more detail. Define what production limits are working on them, where important habitat for rearing is along the river, how populations interact (competition for rearing area for example), and other biological factors like over-wintering area. We have none of these and when things go down one starts to guess instead of having the science to help answer the questions. I am not ignoring other factors like offshore interception - only that we need data on in-river factors also.

    If you look at sockeye salmon production in the main-stem Kenai River you can find all types of literature on where they spawn, percentage spawning in different areas, long history of genetic work in-river, since 1985 studies of rearing environments and how they produce fish, and all of this helps answer questions and improves management. However, if you examine the Russian River, under sport fish division control, you find little to help answer these questions. Sport Fish Division just does not focus on rearing habitat and production. It is time they did and they should start with Kenai River chinook. Notice that ADF&G did not have habitat studies in the 30 million dollar request. Numerous outside reviewers asked for this to be included and they did not. Measuring smolt out is not habitat studies or rearing studies. It is used to measure marine survival.

    Hope this helps.

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    Powerline, back to help explain this more. Here are some figures (I had to read them from a chart in the report so here is the report link http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/FedAidpdfs/FMS13-03.pdf to consider:

    June 13 at RM8 netting program - 80% tributary spawners 20% main stem

    June 20th - 50/50

    June 27th - 20% tributary 80% main stem.

    So ADF&G uses July 1 but the real issue is what are the populations that fill these two spawning areas and are there populations within the main-stem spawning aggregate that are unique or being over harvested? Same for early run. For example, those main stem fish entering in mid June are subjected to a 45 day fishery while those entering in August are near a zero exploitation rate. That is not good fishery management in my opinion. For the early run we know that Slikok Creek enters the stream last of the tributary spawners and thus are subjected to more fishing time.

    The goals are based on July 1 but maybe they should be based on tributary vs main-stem and not some date. That would cause a major shift in how the fisheries are looked at. For example, under the average timing above tributary fish if running late - lets say 7 days for sake of argument and ease of reading the chart would be about 50% of the entry the first week of July. So if one has an issue with early run the in-river fishery would need to be curtailed downstream of Slikok that first week for sure and maybe longer. Relative to the commercial fishery if the early run was a week late the commercial fishery would be taking about 20% tributary fish (assumes 7 days to go from the lower inlet to the river) on the opening around June 25th. Depending on the early run numbers one may want to restrict that period. By the first of July the commercial fishery would be free and managed on late run but the in-river fishery would still need early run restrictions.

    I am just trying to get ADF&G and the public to understand that data are really needed on in-river biological factors for these stocks and that a new way of thinking about run strength and goals may be needed. ADF&G spent lots of time on the ER escapement goal report but for some reason tended to ignore or at least for the present not consider the genetic data gathered since 2003.

    So my call for a complete and open discussion on exactly what the ADF&G is doing with these runs is needed. If the returns are turning down because of some unknown factor then better management precision is needed so as not to add to the problem by over-harvest and under counting. The ER is at serious risk right now and Slikok Creek is the cannery in the coal mine.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nerka View Post
    . . I am just trying to get ADF&G and the public to understand that data is really needed on in-river biological factors for these stocks and that a new way of thinking about run strength and goals may be needed. ADF&G spent lots of time on the ER escapement goal report but for some reason tended to ignore or at least for the present not consider the genetic data gathered since 2003.

    So my call for a complete and open discussion on exactly what the ADF&G is doing with these runs is needed. If the returns are turning down because of some unknown factor then but management precision is needed so as not to add to the problem by over-harvest and under counting. The ER is at serious risk right now and Slikok Creek is the cannery in the coal mine.



    Have you considered making an appointment, visiting the area ADF&G office, and sharing this information with them firsthand?


    Have you considered sending your ideas to Commissioner Campbell for review?



    PS: It's "canary," not "cannery."

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