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 FISHKENAI RIVER LATE RUN KING SALMON
Charles O. Swanton, Director
Robert Begich, Area Management Biologist
Tim McKinley, Area Research Biologist
INSEASON DATA SUMMARY #2 Comments
Latest daily sonar estimate (Sun 7/18)
1,672Sonar at River Mile 8.5 beginning July 1.
This estimate is considered biased-high because of sockeye passage.
Cumulative sonar (thru Sun 7/18)
19,760This estimate is considered biased-high by high sockeye passage.
Of the 23 years prior: 10 years were higher, and 13years 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 - 35,700Goal 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
~ 32,000Average run is ~ 43,000
Sport fishery thru Sun 7/18 in lower river
1,762Very low catch & harvest
Average time it takes guided anglers
to catch a king in 2010
30 hoursSlow but better lately
Average time it takes unguided anglers
to catch a king in 2010
39 hoursSlow but better lately
Commercial Eastside setnet harvestSun 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.
OK; last visibility reading 0.8 meters on 7/18.
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.