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Thread: Sockeye influence on late run Kenai Kings

  1. #1

    Default Sockeye influence on late run Kenai Kings

    Well I, along with a lot of individuals I suspect have been nervously awaiting the return of the Kenai Kings this July. But I must admit, after reading KK's remarks about the Sockeye influence on the King numbers over at the AOJ I started to wonder. Does this theory have merit, can it truly affect the numbers by as much as 20% which is clamed by AOJ and if so, does F&G allot for this when making their final tally? Any incite from you fish guru's would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    Member fishNphysician's Avatar
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    Default 7/15 chinook sonar estimate is total BS

    Sonar count jumped from 414 to 1636 overnight... coincidentally on the same day the sockeye count spiked to 25K. You'd have to be a fool to think that number isn't grossly hyperinflated by sockeye pollution... and by way more than a 20% margin!

    Think about all the other indicators of the LR chinook run strength.

    Only 135 kings taken off the beaches, the same day... 440 the day before. That's a pretty good index that very few kings are making their way past the beach toward the river.

    Look at the in-river chinook test-netting (mid-channel drift gillnet immediately below the chinook sonar counter). The test net was catching 30-40 sockeye per drift... so dam many they had to stop test-netting. It was difficult to accurately sample kings when the net was being plugged with reds! This also meant LOTS of sockey were in the mid-channel where they were being ensonified by the chinook sonar.

    Look at the performance of the sport fishery.... 7/15's 1600 fish day didn't fish much differently that the two previous days where the non-sockeye-polluted king counts were only in the 400-600 range.

    The only reason ADFG will accept that 1600 count at face value is because they clearly NEED that number to artificially bolster the in-river return.... to avoid a potential EO to restrict the king sportfishery, and to avoid a potential EO to restrict the beach nets if the lower end of BEG is in jeopardy.

    Is it too much to ask ADFG for even the smallest measure of intellectual honesty here?
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    Default Lets be fair bur firm

    Quote Originally Posted by fishNphysician View Post
    Sonar count jumped from 414 to 1636 overnight... coincidentally on the same day the sockeye count spiked to 25K. You'd have to be a fool to think that number isn't grossly hyperinflated by sockeye pollution... and by way more than a 20% margin!

    Think about all the other indicators of the LR chinook run strength.

    Only 135 kings taken off the beaches, the same day... 440 the day before. That's a pretty good index that very few kings are making their way past the beach toward the river.

    Look at the in-river chinook test-netting (mid-channel drift gillnet immediately below the chinook sonar counter). The test net was catching 30-40 sockeye per drift... so dam many they had to stop test-netting. It was difficult to accurately sample kings when the net was being plugged with reds! This also meant LOTS of sockey were in the mid-channel where they were being ensonified by the chinook sonar.

    Look at the performance of the sport fishery.... 7/15's 1600 fish day didn't fish much differently that the two previous days where the non-sockeye-polluted king counts were only in the 400-600 range.

    The only reason ADFG will accept that 1600 count at face value is because they clearly NEED that number to artificially bolster the in-river return.... to avoid a potential EO to restrict the king sportfishery, and to avoid a potential EO to restrict the beach nets if the lower end of BEG is in jeopardy.

    Is it too much to ask ADFG for even the smallest measure of intellectual honesty here?
    I must admit I have been a voice for a complete independent review of the chinook salmon sonar counting method but we need to be fair here. First, there are two aspects of the counts. The targets the sonar records as fish and then how they are allocated as sockeye or chinook. Over the years there has been major changes in how this has been handled. I am not sure the data set between years is comparable because of this.

    However, the research staff running the sonar program has published their work and they are open to discussion. So I think we cannot throw stones at them per se. They also have been trying to make it work better.

    That does not mean a few stones cannot be thrown at their leadership. When problems have come up with the counting system over the years there has been a denial of problems by some of the management staff. There is a couple of reasons for this.

    One is that management can live with greater error than most suspect. For example, lets say there is a significant error in July due to sockeye salmon on the late run chinook estimate. However, in August a number of fish enter that are not fished - a safety net for the run so to speak. A management biologist knows this and they may not be as concerned with the error as a research biologist would be because of different uses of the data.

    Second, the counter has been in operation for a number of years and the runs have sustained themselves. So management is feeling fine with the system at the present level of returns. The problem will come if the returns decline due to downturn in freshwater or marine survival.

    For example, if the counter says 50k fish enter the river and the final escapement estimate is 35k but the real escapement is 20 k ---that 20 k could produce a sustainable return and fishery. However, if survival decreases and the return is measured at 20k but is really 10k then the stock could be in trouble. So where we are in history makes an impact on the confidence and use of the counter.

    I believe and strongly suggested to the sport fish division that an indepent third party review of the whole history of the counting operation be conducted and that uncertainity in the data set be fully discussed. So far that has not happened to the level I would like.

    Users should ask ADF&G for that review. A third party that has not been associated with the issue is a valuable way in science to see beyound the box ADF&G find themselves in because of the limitations of a system that has a hard time seeing the forest for the trees sometimes.

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    Default Well, Duh....

    That is all I can say.....

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    Default Kenai Sonar

    The Sonar works very well when there are no Reds in the river (May- June) Every time large numbers of reds inter the river the Sonar counts large numbers of kings.
    Many of the Sonar many problems are well documented. The real problem with inaccurate counts is once an official count is made it becomes a "fact" and is used for the management of the Sport fishery. Its far to easy to manipulate to count numbers to achieve an escapement goal with out impacting com. fisheries. Until the Sonar is run by a independent third party with no political ties. The sonar has very little creditability with a error factor or + or - 50% .

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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert johnson View Post
    The Sonar works very well when there are no Reds in the river (May- June) Every time large numbers of reds inter the river the Sonar counts large numbers of kings.
    Many of the Sonar many problems are well documented. The real problem with inaccurate counts is once an official count is made it becomes a "fact" and is used for the management of the Sport fishery. Its far to easy to manipulate to count numbers to achieve an escapement goal with out impacting com. fisheries. Until the Sonar is run by a independent third party with no political ties. The sonar has very little creditability with a error factor or + or - 50% .
    Why the shot at commercial fisheries when the commercial fisheries staff has nothing to do with the counting program. That is run by the sport fish staff. Also, what evidence do you have to even imply they manipulate the count numbers to keep from impacting the commercial fisheries?

    My comments for independent reivew of the technical aspects was not to imply anything about political influence. This is just a slam against a hard working staff - I may disagree with their technical approach - I do not imply at all they are changing counts for political reasons. I know these people they would not do that.

    You owe them an apology for even implying it.

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    Default Past undersounts

    From what I can find so far the old Bendix systems grossly undercounted the fish in the past. The runs of fish in the river in the past were apparently much higher than the run histories indicate. Comparing the fish counts of the past with today - "we have just as many fish in the river" hardly seems to be an accurate comparison.

    The F&G needs to give us some accuracy figures along with the fish count histories.

    While I'm not that knowledgeable of fish counting I've used similar equipment trying to measure flow in pipes. I've set on international committies establishing flow measurement standards so I know how hard prcise measurments in fluids area. I peraonally have little confidence in the figures myself.



    Quote Originally Posted by Robert johnson View Post
    The Sonar works very well when there are no Reds in the river (May- June) Every time large numbers of reds inter the river the Sonar counts large numbers of kings.
    Many of the Sonar many problems are well documented. The real problem with inaccurate counts is once an official count is made it becomes a "fact" and is used for the management of the Sport fishery. Its far to easy to manipulate to count numbers to achieve an escapement goal with out impacting com. fisheries. Until the Sonar is run by a independent third party with no political ties. The sonar has very little creditability with a error factor or + or - 50% .
    Living the urban lifestyle so I can pay my way and for my family's needs, and support my country. And you?
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    Default A little help here

    Quote Originally Posted by tvfinak View Post
    From what I can find so far the old Bendix systems grossly undercounted the fish in the past. The runs of fish in the river in the past were apparently much higher than the run histories indicate. Comparing the fish counts of the past with today - "we have just as many fish in the river" hardly seems to be an accurate comparison.

    The F&G needs to give us some accuracy figures along with the fish count histories.

    While I'm not that knowledgeable of fish counting I've used similar equipment trying to measure flow in pipes. I've set on international committies establishing flow measurement standards so I know how hard prcise measurments in fluids area. I peraonally have little confidence in the figures myself.
    Those figures are available if you get the reports TV. Just have to ask ADF&G for them. Studies were done a number of times looking at the question of precision and accuracy. Of course accuracy is harder since in glacial systems we have no other way to count.

    First, one needs to separate the Bendix sockeye sonar counting system from the HTI system used for counting chinook.

    Second, one needs to separate the Kenai and Kasilof systems from the discussion about Yentna/Susitna.

    So lets take the first point. The chinook system is trying to pull out chinook salmon ( around 50,000 fish) from sockeye (up to 1.6 million) which is a very difficult task. A small counting error due to sockeye salmon being counted as chinook makes a big difference relative to the chinook number.

    In contrast, the Bendix system is counting the 1.6 million and therefore a few chinook in those counts really does not make a difference. Also, the Bendix system was designed for the Kenai and is located in an ideal spot. Comparsion of the Bendix to the new Didson sonar shows the number of targets to be lower with the Bendix but that assumes the Didson is 100 percent correct, which it is not. When you compare the two counts they are in the same ballpark.

    Relative to the second point - Kenai Bendix for sockeye vs Yentna. The same problem as the chinook counter exist in the Yentna - Sockeye are not the major species and the environment of the Yentna makes counting very difficult. There are offshore sandbars that fish migrate along, there are hundreds of thousands of pink salmon - some of which count and others do not - the fishwheel used to separate the targets to species does not catch fish by species equally, and the river can go up 12 feet in a few days. I believe it is near flood stage right now and the fishwheels are not fishing on the north bank.

    So the data to date would say that the Bendix was good in the Kenai and Kasilof and less so in the Yentna - however since it was undercounting it served the purpose of putting fish into the system for spawning. The problem with the Kenai chinook counter is that it may be overcounting and therefore there are less fish to spawn.

    Hope this helps and one should not make the mistake of lumping all these systems together just because of the Yentna discussion.

  9. #9

    Default Kenai sockeye sonar

    Nerka, aren't they also seeing the same undercounting problem for Kenai sockeye based on the new research? Seems like I saw some of that presented at thge Board of Fish staff presentations but I've not heard anything more about it or seen any reports.

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    Default And here lies the problem...

    Quote Originally Posted by Nerka View Post

    So lets take the first point. The chinook system is trying to pull out chinook salmon ( around 50,000 fish) from sockeye (up to 1.6 million) which is a very difficult task. A small counting error due to sockeye salmon being counted as chinook makes a big difference relative to the chinook number.

    EXACTLY!

    Let's all break out our mind-altering pharmaceuticals and assume for the moment (dream? hallucinate?) that the chinook sonar is 99% accurate in weeding out sockeye pollution. If a million reds swam past the chinook counter, and even just 1% of them were misclassified as chinook, then the king count would be inflated by 10,000 fish! The 22-yr avg chinook sonar estimate is 41K. It's not difficult to imagine that the real number could be closer to 31K. Considering the simplistic analysis above, the sonar estimate for chinook could easily be overstated by more than 30% of the actual in-river return.

    In contrast, if the sockeye counter were to misclassify virtually every chinook in the run as a sockeye (100% error), it would essentially be inconsequential to the total sockeye estimate for the season..... 1.0 million vs 1.03 million.
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    Default Yes and no

    Quote Originally Posted by Bfish View Post
    Nerka, aren't they also seeing the same undercounting problem for Kenai sockeye based on the new research? Seems like I saw some of that presented at thge Board of Fish staff presentations but I've not heard anything more about it or seen any reports.
    The mark/recapture experiments essentially failed. The tagging ratios are different between Hidden and Russian. In addition, there appears to be selective tagging by size that cannot be accounted for. The estimates are very high for one estimate and lower than the Bendix sonar for the other estimate. Not sure where the final number will be but the research project leader for this is trying to work out the kinks. At this point the use of mark/recapture is not working.

    The Didson did count more targets. However, the estimates are withing a fairly close margin - I believe 1.6 vs. 1.9 million (I think these are correct). So if one assumes that the Didson is right the Bendix counter is undercounting. However, it is a big assumption to assume the Didson is correct. They count for 10 mintues and then expand the counts - introduction of bias and error potential. In addition, calling a fish on the screen a valid target is questionable when the fish behavior makes the fish come at the transducer.

    I suspect the Didson is closer based on the Wood River tests but for the Kenai that is not shown yet. Also, the difference between the two makes little difference to the production curves for Kenai. The research staff did a sensitivity analysis and it takes a big error to change the goals.

    So at this point the Bendix is outdated for a variety of reasons and the Didson is being used as it is new and more defendable technology (record of what is actually seen). The staff is taking the Didson counts and converting them back to Bendix counts for management and will make a decision in the future how to handle the Didson counts as more data becomes available on corrections.

    Hope this answers your question. There is no report. I just asked them what they are thinking.

  12. #12

    Default Nerka

    Thanks for the update. I know you are not a big fan of mark-recapture..

  13. #13

    Default

    I have always felt like the "official" numbers were somewhat like the factory temperature gauge in a car - they are simply an indicator of what is going on and they are by no means precision surgical instruments. But, they do tell us approximately how many fish are passing by. Apparently that is enough and I think that the biologists are doing a fine job managing the runs for the most part. The evidence that this is true is clear. We still have solid runs in the river.

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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by fishNphysician
    Sonar count jumped from 414 to 1636 overnight... coincidentally on the same day the sockeye count spiked to 25K. You'd have to be a fool to think that number isn't grossly hyperinflated by sockeye pollution...
    Not really. For example if you look at counts for other days when there were less Sockeye, the ratio of Chinook is actually more. On July 12, when only 2,056 Sockeye were counted, we had 892 Chinook. So 30% of the total fish counted were Chinook. On July 14, only 2,718 Sockeye were counted, and we had 414 Chinook. So 13% of the total fish counted were Chinook.

    But on July 15, the day you claim has been "hyperinflated", there were 25,514 Sockeye and 1,636 Chinook. This is only 6% of total fish counted being Chinook. So actually in proportion, it falls under what other counts show when Sockeye salmon are much fewer. If anything, the Chinook counts are underinflated due to the "pollution" of Sockey.


    Quote Originally Posted by Nerka
    One is that management can live with greater error than most suspect. For example, lets say there is a significant error in July due to sockeye salmon on the late run chinook estimate. However, in August a number of fish enter that are not fished - a safety net for the run so to speak. A management biologist knows this and they may not be as concerned with the error as a research biologist would be because of different uses of the data.
    This is a great point. I caught two bright, beautiful Chinook last year while Silver fishing in mid-August. Both had sea lice. One was about 45 lbs and the other 55 lbs. The sonar had was done, and no longer counting them.


    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Johnson
    Its far to easy to manipulate to count numbers to achieve an escapement goal with out impacting com. fisheries.
    These types of comments are completely unfounded. Managers do the best they can with the conditions, tools, and constraints they have. I support finding better counting methods. However I strongly do not support notions of our managers manipulating counts to the benefit of the commercial fishermen.
    Last edited by Brian M; 07-20-2008 at 22:43.

  15. #15

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Grampyfishes View Post
    Not really. For example if you look at counts for other days when there were less Sockeye, the ratio of Chinook is actually more. On July 12, when only 2,056 Sockeye were counted, we had 892 Chinook. So 30% of the total fish counted were Chinook. On July 14, only 2,718 Sockeye were counted, and we had 414 Chinook. So 13% of the total fish counted were Chinook.

    But on July 15, the day you claim has been "hyperinflated", there were 25,514 Sockeye and 1,636 Chinook. This is only 6% of total fish counted being Chinook. So actually in proportion, it falls under what other counts show when Sockeye salmon are much fewer. If anything, the Chinook counts are underinflated due to the "pollution" of Sockey.


    This is a great point. I caught two bright, beautiful Chinook last year while Silver fishing in mid-August. Both had sea lice. One was about 45 lbs and the other 55 lbs. The sonar had was done, and no longer counting them.


    These types of comments come from small minds and are completely unfounded. Managers do the best they can with the conditions, tools, and constraints they have. I support finding better counting methods. However I strongly do not support notions of our managers manipulating counts to the benefit of the commercial fishermen.
    Grampy,

    Not to argue while your math is sound, our fishy friend from down south has a point - and a valid one. I love Alaska - we have so many fish that we call it "pollution" and it is screwing with the data collection process. Who else has that problem?


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    Default

    All of the points above are well-taken.

    There can be no doubt that chinook counts during heavy sockeye passage are biased high.... on that there can be no disagreement. The magnitude of the chinook inflation on said days is just something that cannot be accurately ascertained with the technology the counting crew has at their disposal today. Grampy says not much, or perhaps it's undercounting kings on those days... KK on the AOJ board says as much as 20%... I say perhaps considerably more. We will just have to agree to disagree on just how high the error actually is.

    In any case, 2008 is shaping up to be the second worst in-river return in the history of the chinook sonar program. Thru July 19 (the historic mid-point of the return) only 12655 kings have passed the sonar. Double that figure and you get an in-river projection of only 25.3K. A projection based on a run-timing model using a more precise cumulative percentage of return actually puts the return at 25.2K.

    And this is taking the chinook counts at face value without considering any possibility of sockeye pollution.

    Put a 30% exploitation on that run-size and you get an escapement projection of only 17.6K.... below the lower limit of BEG!

    *****

    HMMMM....

    We've got Kasilof sockeye at nearly 200K... well on its way to exceeding the 300K OEG.

    Kenai sockeye are losing steam with only 209K in-river while the bottom has fallen out from under the OTF index the past two days. And goal is 750-950K?

    The Kenai chinook return is the second worst in history, and getting worse by the day. The daily chinook catches by the beach nets is running half or less of what we typically see this time of year, just another index that we won't see much in-river passage in the next few days.

    Should be an interesting week of EO's. Anybody hear Old MacDonald singing?
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    Default pretty typical for this time of year

    Quote Originally Posted by fishNphysician View Post
    All of the points above are well-taken.

    There can be no doubt that chinook counts during heavy sockeye passage are biased high.... on that there can be no disagreement. The magnitude of the chinook inflation on said days is just something that cannot be accurately ascertained with the technology the counting crew has at their disposal today. Grampy says not much, or perhaps it's undercounting kings on those days... KK on the AOJ board says as much as 20%... I say perhaps considerably more. We will just have to agree to disagree on just how high the error actually is.

    In any case, 2008 is shaping up to be the second worst in-river return in the history of the chinook sonar program. Thru July 19 (the historic mid-point of the return) only 12655 kings have passed the sonar. Double that figure and you get an in-river projection of only 25.3K. A projection based on a run-timing model using a more precise cumulative percentage of return actually puts the return at 25.2K.

    And this is taking the chinook counts at face value without considering any possibility of sockeye pollution.

    Put a 30% exploitation on that run-size and you get an escapement projection of only 17.6K.... below the lower limit of BEG!

    *****

    HMMMM....

    We've got Kasilof sockeye at nearly 200K... well on its way to exceeding the 300K OEG.

    Kenai sockeye are losing steam with only 209K in-river while the bottom has fallen out from under the OTF index the past two days. And goal is 750-950K?

    The Kenai chinook return is the second worst in history, and getting worse by the day. The daily chinook catches by the beach nets is running half or less of what we typically see this time of year, just another index that we won't see much in-river passage in the next few days.

    Should be an interesting week of EO's. Anybody hear Old MacDonald singing?
    Actually this is pretty typical for this time of year. Just some notes to consider.

    If the Kenai run fails it will be below 2 million so that means the goal will be 650-850. With fish in August they really only need a couple hundred thousand more - not too hard to do with some adjustments to fishing time.

    Second, the Monday period will tell alot. The OTF boat was blown out today - typical - just when a manager wants something mother nature says who is boss

    So I suspect the 1/2 mile fishing will continue for Kasilof, Tuesday will be an assessment day to see how Kenai is entering the district and by Thursday if there is no indication of fish moving into the district some type of Kenai restriction will come. However, I think the OTF estimate on Tuesday will show things are fine and the escapements will be met in Kenai for both stocks ----but this is the time of the season when the uncertainity is very high.

    I will give you an OTF estimate on Tuesday from ADF&G.

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    Default Kenai Sonar

    The Sonar has very little creditability when it comes to counting king salmon when reds are entering the river in large numbers. Garbage in, is Garbage out! Everybody knows the 1000-1600 king counts recorded last week were totally inaccurate.( my guess is there off by 30-40% ) The real problem is when these inaccurate counts are used and recorded as fact. It's impossible for mangers to restrict commercial and sport fishery's early in the season because they are "officially" meeting their low end goals.

    How do you manage a fishery when you don't know how many fish you have?



    ( Managers do the best they can with the conditions, tools, and constraints they have.)
    That my point! Why not take the constraints off? Hire an independent third party with no political ties or ability influence their work. Let them tell us how may fish are in the river. That would go a long way in restoring a little faith with the Sport fish community.



    Grampy you can say what you want about me. At least I don't hide behind a screen name I have never felt the need to hide my identity.

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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by fishNphysician
    There can be no doubt that chinook counts during heavy sockeye passage are biased high.... on that there can be no disagreement.
    On the contrary, there can be strong doubt and disagreement, based on the factual data that I showed you.

    On July 12, when sockeye counts were low, 30% of total fish counted were Chinook. On July 14, when sockeye counts were low, 13% of total fish counted were Chinook. But on July 15, when sockeye counts were high, only 6% counted were Chinook. Absolutely nothing there indicates the Chinook count was "hyperinflated" with high bias during the high sockeye counts. In fact, the data shows just the opposite. It actually shows that on days when there are large numbers of sockeye going past the sonar, the Chinook counts might just be conservative, and this wild conspiracy theory that the Chinook counts are minipulated for the commercial fishermen is bunk.

    Large numbers of Chinook do in fact come in the River along with the large numbers of sockeye. They push in together. They always have. This is not only what the sonar counts will show historically but it is my experience as a life-long Kenai River sportfisherman and prior commercial fisherman. We all know the sonar is not perfect. Over the years management has tried to better count fish, specifically for the conditions of the Kenai River. They do the best they can. They certainly have the experience. Last year we had a surplus of Kings. I'm not against hiring a 3rd party to count...but I doubt it would be any more accurate, and we could probably shoot holes in their counting as well. Perhaps just more wasted time and money.

    Robert johnson (or whoever you are), I'm Joe Fishermen...Just some guy on the internet. But if my anonymity bothers you so much, why don't you PM me with reasons why knowing who I am would change anything you or I write. These issues aren't about who's who. They are about our fisheries. And in that regard anonymity is priceless.

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    Default

    Also, if some factor kept literally a hundred thousand sockeyes out in the inlet, until something pushed them into the Kenai............whose to say the same doesn't apply to the Kings?

    I'm not thinking one way or another on this issue of the sonar, but to imply the counts are total garbage implies that the folks counting don't care, and are not trying. I seriously doubt that and have a problem with those that do. So while I understand it must be tough to count that many blips or whatever I personally have little doubt it is done well, and the counts are more or less accurate.

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