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Unalakleet and Shaktoolik Closed for King Salmon

From an ADFG News Release:

The Division of Sport Fisheries has closed the Unalakleet and Shaktoolik river drainages to the retention or possession of king salmon, effective 12:01 A.M. Friday, July 6, 2007.

This Emergency Order prohibits the harvest of king salmon while sport fishing in these waters. In addition, this Emergency Order prohibits the use of bait in these drainages. This Emergency Order will remain in effect through August 15, 2007 or until additional in-season assessments suggest that escapement goals will be met for king salmon on the Unalakleet and Shaktoolik rivers.

Escapement counts of king salmon at the North River tower on the Unalakleet River are below historic averages. As of July 4th only 186 king salmon had passed the counting tower. From 2002 2006 an average of 430 king salmon had passed the counting tower by this date. According to the Unalakleet River King Salmon Management Plan, when the projected escapement is below the lower end of the escapement goal, all fishing will be closed. Although it is still early in the run, it appears that the escapement goal for king salmon will not be reached in 2007. This action is in alignment with the management plan.

The Department does not have a stock assessment project in the Shaktoolik River, but the king salmon run generally cycles in accordance with Unalakleet stocks. Unalakleet River test fishery indices are also below historic averages for this date. The elimination of sport harvests of king salmon in the Unalakleet and Shaktoolik rivers will provide protection for returning fish. The prohibition of bait while sport fishing is in accordance with provisions set forth in 5 AAC 75.003 (1)(A). This action should minimize catch-and-release mortality for king salmon incidentally caught while sport fishing for other species.

The Department will continue to evaluate in-season run strength and take appropriate management actions to ensure that escapement requirements are met. If in-season stock assessment information indicates that the king salmon escapement goal in the Unalakleet River will be met, restrictions will be relaxed.

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