Summary of conversation with Katie Howard

  1. Most of what we know about the ecology of Chinook in the Yukon comes from a very small part of the life history (during the upriver migration)
  2. First summer at sea in the nearshore, and in winter migrate south to the shelf break of the Bering Sea…a very productive region. Remember where Jim Ianelli said most pollock fishing occurs???
  3. Critical size/critical period hypothesis- states that in the early marine rearing period the smallest sized fish do not survive due to size dependent selection and lack of critical reserves
  4. Timing matters! Moving between ecosystems and the potential for hitting the conditions just right (or not), formally articulated as match/mismatch hypothesis
  5. Data on timing of juvenile migration available from 1986, 2014, 2015
  6. Sampling the delta of the Yukon River is a far from trivial task.
  7. Sampling in the Bering Sea August/September from Bering Sea 2002-2015 provides a longer record of ecology
  8. Differences in diets between relatively ‘warm’ or ‘cold’ water conditions. In cold years, larval capelin really important in ‘cold’ years and half as important in warm years.  As larval fish  key prey items, there is lots of potential for match vs. mismatch
  9. Chinook grow about ca. 230% over two months. Coho salmon triple in size, pink salmon quadruple in size.
  10. Outmigration timing not strongly associated with timing of ice break up in the lower river, but some association with water temperatures
  11. Approximately half of the young Chinook salmon caught in Bering Sea of Canadian origin
  12. 2013 onward showing some leading indication of increasing productivity. A glimmer of hope
  13. Tells us that marine survival pretty stable after first summer at sea
  14. Relationship between numbers of Chinook captured in August and September has strong predictive power to forecast adult returns in subsequent year

Summary from discussion with Caroline Brown

  1. There are MULTIPLE salmon fisheries on the US side of the Yukon River alone
  2. Caroline’s focus is on the people who rely on the salmon, not the salmon or the subsistence resources themselves
  3. A reminder that ca. 50% of Chinook salmon used by fishers is produced in  Canada
  4. One way to think about communities is lower, middle, and upper along the river. They are grouped by history, availability of resources, and type of fishing gear
  5. “Lower river” communities exemplify ‘mixed-cash economies’; economies that are dynamic and interrelated; largely Yupik
  6. “Middle river” primarily Athabaskans, “Moose and Salmon” people, but highly diverse resource use
  7. “Upper river” Gwich’in  and Han Athabaskans, similar resource base (riverine and boreal), but very different landscape to fish AND last resource users to encounter the fish. Largely fish wheel or set net
  8. Family-based economies at Fish Camps; but Fish Camps have decline precipitously associated with decline in Chinook abundance; hugely important for building family ties and are/were family markers and key to cultural transmission. Important site of cultural, economic, nutritional sharing
  9. Wage labor, changes in transportation, missionization, and host of factors changed the c
  10. Cultural dynamics in the Yukon
  11. Subsistence priority- State law that in times of conservation that priority goes to subsistence of fish and game over other user/cultural groups
  12. Subsistence uses means taking noncommercial customary and traditional uses for direct personal or family consumption for: food, shelter, fuel, clothing, tools, transportation, making or selling of handicrafts
  13. Transportation uses of salmon??? Duh, the dog teams need to eat!
  14. Customary trade selling subsistence caught fish (resources) for ‘small’ amounts of cash
  15. Reasonable amount of time for traditional use? How about a generation?
  16. Eight criteria to determine traditional and customary use
  17. Board of Fish uses eight criteria to determine whether a resource fits the definition of a ‘subsistence’  resource
  18. Distribution and sharing of products and reliance on a wide diversity of resources are HALLMARKS
  19. 30/70 rule. 70% of resources harvested by 30% of households
  20. Mixed cash economies do not focus on only one resource…they harvest a lot of all resources
  21. ANS…Amounts Reasonably Necessary for Subsistence. What is that? A numerical range of how much of a resource is necessary for subsistence. Clear right?
  22. While chum subsistence harvests have increased while Chinook salmon harvests have declined, chum do not replace or substitute for Chinook
  23.  Salmon and Chinook salmon in particular in the center of exchange networks in Yukon communities

Summary of conversation with Gale Vick

  1. Yukon River drainage 25% larger than Texas (another example that everything is bigger in Alaska)
  2. Many complex and interacting challenges to management
  3. Eight distinct fisheries on the Yukon River
  4. The managers; State of Alaska, International Treaty, and US Federal agencies
  5. Common ground among groups: the resource comes first and how will future generations deem our actions?
  6. The management landscape is a patchwork mosaic
  7. Four primary governing bodies of the Yukon River on the U.S. side of the border
  8. March 1985 Pacific Salmon Treaty ratified
  9. In 2001 an addendum to PST signed that outlines steps to ensure the future use of Yukon salmon
  10. Gear types on the Yukon: drift gillnet, set driftnet, beach seine, dipnets, fishwheels, rod and reel
  11. Amounts of fish needed for subsistence is vitally important and drives recent management of the Yukon
  12. What is co-management? A legal construct and a term that describes how tribal and federal or state groups work together for resource management
  13. What is upriver/downriver tension? Where does it come from? It comes from inequity in fishing opportunity based on where an individual finds themselves on the river system
  14. CDQs have important role on the Yukon due to CDQ community on the Delta of the river…contributes to upriver/downriver tension
  15. Acronyms rule the Yukon!

Summary from talk with Jim Ianelli

  1. An important (vital) step in stock assessment science is exploring how bad your assumptions are
  2. Necessarily understanding the consequences of decisions are assessed through simulation modeling given the difficulty and complexity of natural systems
  3. North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC, national body) manages fisheries 3-200 miles offshore
  4. Overarching principle of NPFMC comes from Magnuson-Stevens Act, including minimizing bycatch and bycatch mortality
  5. Most of the pollock fishery occurs along Eastern Bering Sea Shelf
  6. The pollock fishery accounts for 40% of all US landings and is the world’s largest whitefish fishery
  7. Pollock fishery recently re-certified by Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
  8. Chinook Savings Area- Once a limit of bycatch reached, areas closed
  9. Lots of variability in where and when salmon are encountered…making set area closures difficult
  10. Rolling voluntary hotspot  closures a tool being used; additional incentive options also in effect
  11. Salmon excluding nets that exploit different behavior between salmon and pollock currently being used
  12. Trying to avoid areas where Chinook/chum concentrated a tool; can use relationships between sea surface temperature
  13. 2011 hard caps on bycatch- if fishery catches 60,000 salmon it is CLOSED
  14. Current levels of bycatch (11,000-25,000)
  15. Incentive programs remain critical for further bycatch reduction
  16. 100% observer coverage; complete census of all salmon species by observers; key is having good observer program! Evidence suggests that the data collected from observers are very high quality
  17. Major task is to calculate how many fish would have survived in the absent of a fishery; called an Adult Equivalent.
  18. Approximately 10,000 Chinook are estimated to have returned to Western AK rivers in absence of Pollock fishery
  19. In the  Yukon, pollock likely reduce  the total return by 1-3% in a given (recent) year
  20.  This effect is likely imperceptible given the difficulty of accurately counting fish and the error associated with those estimates (See summary from talk from Stephanie Schmidt)
  21. Despite the numbers and evidence that marine bycatch is not a prime suspect behind the decline of AYK Chinook salmon there is a challenge to communicate the issue among user cultures. The perceived issue of inequity seems to remain: one group catches and discards the fish overboard or gives away to food banks, while other cultures that have subsisted on Chinook salmon for centuries sits idle. There is no way to avoid the contentiousness of this issue.

Summary from our conversation with Stephanie Schmidt

Key challenges and Highlights

  1. Size of the river
  2. Cultures that depend
  3. Mixed stock
  4. Management structure
  5. Data uncertainty
  6. 43 villages with approximately 13,600 people
  7. Chinook in the Yukon…the King of kings due to oil content and nutritional value.
  8. Chinook linked to cultural sense of being and place
  9. Commercial fisheries did fuel a really important economy. Commercial fishery inextricably linked to the subsistence fishery…money made used to purchase fuel,ammo, boat, etc… that allows access to other subsistence resources
  10. No summer chum above the Tanana
  11. How you manage depends on where you are in the river and what stocks are swimming by…among other complications
  12. Top priority is meeting escapement needs then subsistence has priority
  13. Co-managed fishery with Federal government
  14. Federal government defers to ADF&G on management decisions. Close working relationship between ADF&G and USFWS (US Fish & Wildlife Service)
  15. Canadian’s get 23% of TAC (Total Allowable Catch)
  16. 150,000 Chinook needed to meet all escapement goals and provide for all subsistence fishing needs
  17. CPUE from test net fishery at the mouth explains only about 23% of the variability in final Chinook escapement numbers
  18. Key challenge, how do you provide opportunities to harvest abundant summer chum and not detrimentally impact depressed stocks of Chinook salmon
  19. Communication not enough…compassion is necessary

Summary from conversation with Jan Conitz

Overview of how US and Canada work together to manage Pacific salmon
1) Much of the headwaters in dynamic glacial landscapes. Mosaic of habitats
2) Tend to manage at the individual species level, but co-migrating species create management conundrums
3) Upper and Lower stocks of Chinook travel at different speeds (Upper at 50-60 km/day, and Lower at 30-40 km/day)
4) Genetic and habitat diversity important for long term persistence of salmon in the Yukon
5) Traditional harvesting for personal and community consumption and barter (salmon are the economy of the Yukon)
6) Understanding idiosyncrasies among user groups is important in treaty development
7) Full scale export commercial fisheries began in 1918
8) Full time biologist in the Yukon not present until 1953
9) Sustainable Salmon Policy-abundance based management; escapement goals are #1, resources for setting goals, in-season monitoring to achieve goals
10) Major challenges are a) mixed species mix, b) run timing and spatial distribution, c) effort, efficiency, and type of gear.
11) Supreme challenges, maintaining stock diversity, escapement goals, and subsistence needs
12) 14 chum per Chinook passing Pilot Station creates major challenges
13) Using information provided by catches of local users has value but also challenges because of lack of standardization
14) How to strike balance between protecting the fish and protecting the people?
15) Pacific Salmon Treaty overseen by the Pacific Salmon Commission
16) Yukon River Salmon Agreement 17 years after the Pacific Salmon Treaty (rebuilding, maintaining viable fisheries, priority for subsistence)
17) Yukon River Panel makes recommendations to designated management agencies on each side; Joint Technical Committee provides scientific and technical advice
18) US Panel member roles, Alaska Native lower river fisherman, Mid or upper river resident, commercial processor, state or Federal fisheries manager
19) Large scale proposed hydro sites have huge potential consequences for salmon production in the Yukon.

493 Fish UX1 (200, 400, 600)