Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 31

Thread: Late Kenai River chinook run in trouble or not????

  1. #1
    Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    5,534

    Default Late Kenai River chinook run in trouble or not????

    Below is the summary from ADF&G on the status of the chinook run to the Kenai. It has some interesting points and you must read between the lines to figure out what is happening. First, the sonar is overcounting and it looks like a lot. The projected total return is 42,000 but at the bottom ADF&G states that the commercial and sport harvest would indicate a run of 26000 or close to 2009. That is a significant overcount if true and makes the sonar useless for management.

    Second, the eastside set net harvest is only 2677 fish. That would probably be around a 7000 fish harvest by the end of the season. That is really low. The estimated in-river sonar estimate is about 20k and normal exploitation would be 20 percent or higher. The eastside catch should be 4-5 k if the sonar is correct. So I understand their concern. The sport fish numbers are just as telling.

    So what are they going to do? Do you ignore these numbers and just fish? The management plans are firm on the numbers so how can you go against those plans given the numbers were set with sockeye impacting them? How do you really protect this stock from overharvest except to assume that the low harvest in the sport fishery is due to poor fishing conditions as opposed to low numbers. That may be true.

    What a mess. It looks like this year the sonar issue that have been kept in the closet are coming home to ADF&G. I wish them luck with this one as there is no easy answer that keeps them out of the spot light unless they want to risk the resource. Should be interesting to watch.





    ALASKA DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME
    Denby S. Lloyd, Commissioner

    DIVISION OF SPORT FISH
    Charles O. Swanton, Director

    Robert Begich, Area Management Biologist
    (907) 262-9368
    Tim McKinley, Area Research Biologist
    (907) 262-9368
    KENAI RIVER LATE RUN KING SALMON
    INSEASON DATA SUMMARY #2
    Monday 7/19/10
      Comments
    Latest daily sonar estimate (Sun 7/18)
    1,672
    Sonar at River Mile 8.5 beginning July 1.
    This estimate is considered biased-high because of sockeye passage.

    Cumulative sonar (thru Sun 7/18)
    19,760
    This estimate is considered biased-high by high sockeye passage.
    Of the 23 years prior: 10 years were higher, and 13
    years were lower thru 7/15.
    If the run proceeds at the current rate,
    Estimated end of season in-river run size

    ~42,000 (± 10,000)
    Projection is considered biased high as actual run strength is considered well below average.
    Escapement goal range
    17,800 - 35,700
    Goal range since 1999.
    If run and fishery proceed at current rates, it is uncertain at this time if the escapement goal will be achieved without inseason action.
    Pre-season forecast of in-river run size
    ~ 32,000
    Average run is ~ 43,000
    Sport fishery thru Sun 7/18 in lower river
    Catch 1,868
    Harvest
    1,762
    Very low catch & harvest
    Average time it takes guided anglers
    to catch a king in 2010

    30 hours
    Slow but better lately
    Average time it takes unguided anglers
    to catch a king in 2010

    39 hours
    Slow but better lately
    Commercial Eastside setnet harvest
    Sun 7/18 108
    Cum (
    thru Sun 7/18) 2,677
    Harvest to date ~47% of the average
    Only 2 years (1990 and 2000) had lower king harvests to date.
    Water clarity
    OK; last visibility reading 0.8 meters on 7/18.
    Water flow/current
    High; 16,200 ft3/sec today, vs. 45 yr median of 13,700 ft3/sec.
    Summary: The 2010 late run of king salmon to the Kenai River are smaller and younger than usual which is represented in the department’s indices of king salmon passage (test net catches, other sonar indices, harvest in all fisheries). The smaller size of king salmon in 2010 has resulted in a positive bias or inflated estimate of the number of king salmon passing the sonar site each day. All factors considered the above projection for the 2010 king salmon late run to Kenai River is biased high. Catch rates in both the sport and commercial fisheries combined with low numbers of larger older king salmon in the run indicate a run strength similar to or smaller than the 2009 late run, which was approximately 26,000 king salmon. The department will continue to monitor the run with all available tools.

    This information was compiled based on raw and historical data for inseason management purposes.
    Final data is subject to change.

  2. #2
    Member fishNphysician's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Aberdeen WA
    Posts
    4,516

    Default Thanks for taking the heat off on this one, Nerka

    I was thinking EXACTLY the same thing when I opened that document up earlier today. Well I'm just glad someone else took the initiative to start this discussion besides me. I'd probably just be discredited again as a presumptive ignorant tourist.

    Nerka touched on all the major points regarding the challenges of trying to reconcile widely discrepant data sets.

    The beach interceptions are way down, and so is the in-river catch. The sonar clearly sticks out as the outlier index this year.

    Now how do we proceed from here?

    Taking the sonar counts at face value, we press on full speed ahead with both the commercial and sport fisheries impacting this stock. While there is undeniable motivation to keep the beach nets fishing and to have some sort of meaningful in-river recreational opportunity, in the absence of certainty, a more precautionary approach should rule the day.

    The alternative is to throw out the sonar count in favor of a much more conservative run-size assessment. But that could leave stakeholders in one or both fisheries quite disgruntled by any potential restrictions that may be invoked.

    Someone at ADFG is gonna have to step up, decide on the most appropriate index, revise the published number, and stick by the management implications of that number..... REGARDLESS OF HOW MUCH HEAT THEY GET FROM THE USERS! To simply hide behind the inflated sonar counts with a disclaimer of "biased high by unknown amount" is simply the convenient way out of making a very TOUGH decision.

    Yes, users are going to challenge that number, it's a given. But to maintain credibility, ADFG is gonna have to put up a unified front (both managers and field staff) behind an official published number that better reflects the realities being witnessed by eyes on the water. The management plans require a chinook number to function.... users need a real number to hang their hats on as well. Define that number, and the plans pretty much spell out the appropriate management actions in cook-book fashion.

    FYI the precedent has already been set for revising the sonar count in-season back in 2005. Back then, the situation was just the opposite. All other indices pointed to a stronger return while the sonar was showing a weak one. In fact, the sonar number was tracking toward triggering C&R in the chinook sport fishery, and there was a very real possibility of a king closure in the river -AND- a closure of the sockeye beach nets as per the chinook and sockeye mgt plans.

    But with one click of a button, the sonar calibration was changed by one dB, and magically the chinook run had doubled in size! Full speed ahead.

    This action was justified on the basis of the other indices trumping what the sonar was telling the management team.

    So here we are 5 years later. Once again those "other" indices are speaking loud and clear. Are we listening?

    Where's the popcorn?
    "Let every angler who loves to fish think what it would mean to him to find the fish were gone." Zane Grey
    http://www.piscatorialpursuits.com/uploads/UP12710.jpg
    The KeenEye MD

  3. #3
    Member willphish4food's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Willow, AK
    Posts
    3,368

    Default

    Anecdotal evidence, doc. Sonar's a solid number, scientifically obtained. Indisputable.

  4. #4
    Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Posts
    2,883

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by willphish4food View Post
    Anecdotal evidence, doc. Sonar's a solid number, scientifically obtained. Indisputable.
    So what's your solution?...To manage the fishery on sarcasm?

  5. #5
    Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Vancouver, Washington
    Posts
    1,210

    Default

    Tough issue indeed. I'm not sure ADF&G should develop an adult escapement number without a rational basis for doing so. And if the sonar count is not reliable, there doesn't seem to be another method of estimating adult escapement. I would not recommend taking a "best professional guess". That's just pulling a number out of the air.

    ADF&G should state that the standard method of stock enumeration (sonar) is not reliable this year, indicate they cannot provide an accurate count of adult Chinoks, so they need to base their management decision on a precautionary principle. That is, all indications point to a lower than expected adult escapement, so they need to adjust harvest downward accordingly, even though they don't have specific numbers on which to base their management decision. It's not optimal, but under the circumstances, it's the best they can do.

    From there, they could go to no bait, C&R, drift boats only, slot limits, daily closures, or whatever. Whatever management tools they have, they would need to use with care, but with the needs of the fish being the highest priority.

    Then they need to turn their sights on fixing the sonar, and developing an alternative method of estimating escapement. Sorta like developing an alternate way of capping the well if the blowout preventer doesn't work.........

  6. #6
    Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    2,448

    Default

    With all the other rivers in AK in trouble with Kings and all the other evidence that can be gathered it would be safe to say the run is in trouble. Why dont we fix it before they dissapear? I know guides and tourist dollars are at stake but how much will they be making if we dont fix this? I would not fish Kings this year in AK as the numbers just are not there to make me feel right about fishing them even if it was a C&R. Dont wait to lock the door until after you have been robbed.

  7. #7

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by kgpcr View Post
    I would not fish Kings this year in AK as the numbers just are not there to make me feel right about fishing them even if it was a C&R.
    I have found that you can fish for them all you want, there aren't any anyways, so C&R isn't even an option.........But I catch your drift and didn't miss the point. They just aren't there and are not worth fishing for with the numbers so low. What do you suppose we should fix to get more kings into the river and spawing?

  8. #8

    Default

    Nerka (or anyone as usual),

    How do you manage a system when one of your most important tools to manage it is not reliable, and according to DOC, be manipulated so easily? It almost sounds like somebody is pulling the puppets strings by changing the sonar frequency to open up a fishery when knows one knows for sure if it even should be open. It seems, and I may be very wrong, but at face value there is no accurate baseline, not an accurate historical count, and not an accurate in river count which leaves a lot of question to be answered. It is like balancing the checkbook not knowing how much money your started with and hoping the checks you wrote don't bounce. Frightening position to be in I would assume as a manager. I know there is a fudge factor built in to the manage plan too, but is there really? I mean, don't you have to have an accurate count to build a fudge factor in? As you said, "what a mess," I am glad it is not me on the hot seat trying to defend any of that......

    TRB

  9. #9
    Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    5,534

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by T.R. Bauer View Post
    Nerka (or anyone as usual),

    How do you manage a system when one of your most important tools to manage it is not reliable, and according to DOC, be manipulated so easily? It almost sounds like somebody is pulling the puppets strings by changing the sonar frequency to open up a fishery when knows one knows for sure if it even should be open. It seems, and I may be very wrong, but at face value there is no accurate baseline, not an accurate historical count, and not an accurate in river count which leaves a lot of question to be answered. It is like balancing the checkbook not knowing how much money your started with and hoping the checks you wrote don't bounce. Frightening position to be in I would assume as a manager. I know there is a fudge factor built in to the manage plan too, but is there really? I mean, don't you have to have an accurate count to build a fudge factor in? As you said, "what a mess," I am glad it is not me on the hot seat trying to defend any of that......

    TRB
    ADF&G managed the chinook run fine for 35 years before the chinook sonar. I was part of that for 5 years and it is not that hard if you have some flexibility. First one has the eastside beach catch which is first indication of run strength. One has to put the fishing pressure in perspective to evaluate those data and that unfortunately has not been done since sonar. So it needs to be done and the data base brought up to comparable levels (for example hours fished, who was fishing). Next one has the sport fishery and that is not very good but some indication again if one puts the other variables into perspective - like river conditions of flow, turbidity, temperature, etc. Then one has the on-river observations of people who use the resource to help make the subjective judgements. Finally, where you can and this applies very well to the early run you set up counting systems for the tributaries - weirs and foot surveys to make sure you are on track with your decisions. It requires biologists to get back out in the field which has been lacking in ADF&G for the last few years - Slikok Creek is a good example - no foot surveys for three years in a row - other tributaries have the same issues.

    However, in addition to this the management plans need to be changed to allow more flexibility in management of both chinook and sockeye salmon. There are trade-offs made inseason. Limiting sockeye fishing hours and making mandatory closures in the sockeye fishery work against management as they cannot fish when fish are abundant and therefore tend to fish all the hours available. That is not a good system.

    In the end without sonar the staff will become more conservative and precautionary which is not bad if not taken to extreme. They will have to make judgement calls on what they think is happening and they will have to defend those more in the public forums. With sonar they just cite the numbers. In the end the system is actually more accountable.

    Finally they need to think outside the box and start to put counters in spots and places where they will work. For example, the location of the present counter has been and will be a problem regardless of how good the stock separation is for chinook and sockeye. Pink salmon in even years compromize the counts and behavior of chinook and sockeye will always be overlapped. Up river locations may not be good for inseason management but post season tracking can provide lots of useful information. So far ADF&G has been unwilling to think outside the river mile 8 box.

    Hope this helps. The users will have to demand some changes otherwise ADF&G will do what they have always done with this counting system - tell the public this is a one year event and they will work on it. So far 25 years of one year events have taken place.

  10. #10

    Default

    Nerka,

    Thanks for your insights and posting. Without a doubt, I would not make a good manager as I would always second guess if I did the right thing, if I did the wrong thing, or if I acted too slowly. It would kill me. But then again, so would being a farmer....is it going to rain? Is it going to stop raining? When should I plant? Harvest? Oh god, look at those prices, how am I going to pay the loan? Tough spots to be in my opinion.

    TRB
    Last edited by T.R. Bauer; 07-31-2010 at 15:48. Reason: I'm stupid....

  11. #11
    Member fishNphysician's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Aberdeen WA
    Posts
    4,516

    Default Intellectual honesty acknowledged.....

    From the document
    A Qualitative Evaluation of Parameters Used to Assess
    Kenai River King Salmon, 1986–2010

    EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

    • Two populations of king salmon return to the Kenai River to spawn. The first population, composed of king salmon bound for tributaries of the Kenai River (tributary spawners), enter the river from late April through early July. The second population, composed of king salmon that spawn in the Kenai River itself (mainstem spawners), enter the river from late June through mid August.

    • Kenai River king salmon are managed as two stocks (early run and late run). A comprehensive stock assessment program using multiple assessment parameters drives the implementation of management plans for both stocks. Each of the stock assessment parameters has error associated with it.

    The assessment of inriver run size contributes considerably more error for both runs than any other parameter used for assessing Kenai River king salmon stocks. Inriver run size estimates are produced with split-beam sonar, which does not accurately differentiate king salmon from more numerous sockeye salmon. A critical concern is the inability of the split-beam sonar to consistently detect smaller than average runs.

    • Two other sources of error associated with Kenai River king salmon stock assessment that are important and need to be addressed are:

    Actual harvest of Kenai River king salmon in the Cook Inlet commercial Eastside setnet (ESSN) fishery is unknown. All reported king salmon harvest in the ESSN fishery is attributed to the Kenai River late run, while the harvest is also composed of Kasilof River king salmon and, possibly, other stocks.

    The timing and overlap between the tributary and mainstem spawning populations are not consistent with a management cutoff date of July 1 to delineate the early and late run stocks, thereby introducing multiple sources of error in accounting for each population.

    • Current studies are being conducted to address the largest sources of error associated with Kenai River king salmon assessment. These studies include: (1) the testing of DIDSON (dual frequency identification sonar) for assessing inriver run size, and (2) the use of genetic stock identification (GSI) techniques as a tool for improving assessment of stockspecific harvest estimates, and run timing and productivity of tributary and mainstem spawning fish.

    • DIDSON has been tested on the Kenai River at the current sonar location and can differentiate king salmon from other species more accurately than Split-beam sonar. Although some issues with this new technology are still being resolved, future transition from the current split-beam sonar to DIDSON should reduce the amount of error associated with inriver run-size estimates.

    • Collection of GSI information will improve understanding of the overlap in run timing and harvest of Kenai River tributary and mainstem populations, and harvest estimates in mixed-stock fisheries such as the ESSN fishery. In addition, GSI information collected inriver may provide estimates of annual abundance that are independent of sonar estimates and can be used to evaluate biases that may exist in the sonar estimates.
    "Let every angler who loves to fish think what it would mean to him to find the fish were gone." Zane Grey
    http://www.piscatorialpursuits.com/uploads/UP12710.jpg
    The KeenEye MD

  12. #12
    Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    5,534

    Default

    Sometimes you want to be wrong but know in your heart you are correct. I have been a critic of the chinook sonar since the mid 1980's and as people know on this forum have asked for an independent review. Congrats to Charlie Swanton, Director of Sport Fish Division, for ordering this review. It backs up what I and others have been saying for years. Just for some historical perspective I was instructed not to comment on the chinook sonar by a Director of Commercial Fisheries because I was causing issues with Sport Fish Division leadership. It has been a long road to get to this point. My concern now is that the Didson is being used and the recommendation to move the sonar site will be ignored. Well, at least this is a start.

  13. #13
    Member fishNphysician's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Aberdeen WA
    Posts
    4,516

    Default

    Just curious Nerka... are you at the meeting in Anchorage?
    "Let every angler who loves to fish think what it would mean to him to find the fish were gone." Zane Grey
    http://www.piscatorialpursuits.com/uploads/UP12710.jpg
    The KeenEye MD

  14. #14
    Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    2,448

    Default

    I just find it interesting that for years they have turned a blind eye to the counter being so far off. Its time they took a look at the king fishery and do something before its gone.

  15. #15
    Member fishNphysician's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Aberdeen WA
    Posts
    4,516

    Default

    Did the BOF take any action to address the controversy surrounding the chinook sonar counts?
    "Let every angler who loves to fish think what it would mean to him to find the fish were gone." Zane Grey
    http://www.piscatorialpursuits.com/uploads/UP12710.jpg
    The KeenEye MD

  16. #16
    Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    5,534

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by fishNphysician View Post
    Did the BOF take any action to address the controversy surrounding the chinook sonar counts?
    No, they did not as that is not their job. ADF&G said they would manage with other indicators plus the Didson sonar counter. I found that funny since the Didson is not a proven technique and the goals were set with the Split beam counter. So it is the same old story from ADF&G - we have a new system that will work and yet they failed to provide one document that indicates that to be true.

    There are major questions how they will use the Didson. Remember a 650 mm sockeye salmon and 650 mm chinook salmon will look the same. So they are going to count just large fish and expand based on age composition. That means the netting program must be a good measure of the age composition. That has not been shown to be the case in the present testing methodology. A review of that part of the program would be a good idea but I doubt that will happen and early run chinook will continue to go down the tube.

  17. #17
    Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    soldotna
    Posts
    841

    Default

    Actually the BOF did take some action to address the sonar counting problem. 1) they went with a conservative "no change" to inriver regulations 2) a fixed 24 hour window was approved on Tuesdays 3) 36 hour window on that can start either Thursday evening or Friday Morning and 4) the 1% rule was defined as a standard 24 hour day.

    Word is that the first run will be managed with a more conservative approach.

  18. #18

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Nerka View Post
    No, they did not as that is not their job. ADF&G said they would manage with other indicators plus the Didson sonar counter. I found that funny since the Didson is not a proven technique and the goals were set with the Split beam counter. So it is the same old story from ADF&G - we have a new system that will work and yet they failed to provide one document that indicates that to be true.

    There are major questions how they will use the Didson. Remember a 650 mm sockeye salmon and 650 mm chinook salmon will look the same. So they are going to count just large fish and expand based on age composition. That means the netting program must be a good measure of the age composition. That has not been shown to be the case in the present testing methodology. A review of that part of the program would be a good idea but I doubt that will happen and early run chinook will continue to go down the tube.
    That is not what I heard when listening to the web cast during the oral presentation on Kenai River King Salmon: Sonar and Management. http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm...rd.meetinginfo
    If you look at slides 11 and 12 it indicates that F&G will be transitioning to Didson and developing new Didson based goals. In the meantime they will discontinue TS-based assessement and use ELSD, net apportioned, CPUEs, ESSN, and SSART indices of abundance to manage the fishery as they relate to the existing goals. I thought I heard them say it would be a period of three or more years to transition to a new goal. I don't think its the same old story at all. I think they were open and forthright about project and provided plenty of information through the oral report and two external reviews that were submitted as RCs. I managed to make it down there when that committee discussed this and heard F&G repeat this message. Were you there?

  19. #19
    Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Vancouver, Washington
    Posts
    1,210

    Default

    Maybe I missed something but this paragraph is alarming:

    "Actual harvest of Kenai River king salmon in the Cook Inlet commercial Eastside setnet (ESSN) fishery is unknown. All reported king salmon harvest in the ESSN fishery is attributed to the Kenai River late run, while the harvest is also composed of Kasilof River king salmon and, possibly, other stocks."

    To me this says they're managing the fishery without a critical piece of information, namely the origin of the fish being caught. That's sorta basic......

    Again, I find that alarming.

  20. #20
    Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Anchorage
    Posts
    499

    Default

    I'd like to see after July 31st king fishing completely closed to all fishing in the Kenai River, even catch and release. The kenai kings just get hammered in July between gillnets, dipnets, guides, and recreational fishermen and they need a break. I've heard people brag about catching kings in August and just doing the catch and release thing. Problem is research has shown a certain percentage of these fish die and then another percentage won't spawn because the energy they've expended fighting the drag of the pole is too great to overcome. I mean some silver fishermen will catch some on accident, but if a person is fishing with a Kwikfish 16 they are not silver fishing or using a heavy king pole the person is also not likely silver fishing and I think it could be a regulation that could be enforced.

    As far as the early run goes with the majority of these fish being tributary spawners I wonder how many of them are getting eaten and chased around by brown bears preventing them from spawning. A brown bear is most hungry in May and June and this is the time period when they will eat the most kings. At some point I don't think this should be overlooked.

    I know it's hard to put a limit on people king fishing but the amount of boats on the Kenai River in July is just too much. I know they have the 2 king limit, but unless you have a person manning a checkstand at each launch site it's basically going on the honor system that people will honestly report. That's an option to establish checkstands at each launch site during the morning and evening when boat traffic is the busiest. Or put a limit on recreational fishermen of how many times they can fish the river in a summer. I know it would be tough to come up with something, but the in-river competition for kings has probably reached the point new regulations need to be thought of.

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •