With the 2009 commercial salmon season set to open in Sand Point in a few days, the fishery is looking forward to another good year. And after last year’s unexpectedly positive returns, there’s always hope in Sand Point of exceeding preseason projections.
KMXT’s Erik Wander has more.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Sand Point does not have the resources to produce a formal forecast for its commercial salmon fishery, according to Fish and Game area biologist Aaron Poetter. He made a distinction between a forecast and a projection, which Fish and Game does make for Sand Point each year. The projection is based on an average of total commercial harvest over the past five years. Poetter said this year’s projection is slightly over two-million sockeye and about eight-million pink salmon.
— (Poetter 1 40 sec. "Those will kind of be our … to work out for everybody.")
Poetter said it’s too early to tell if things will work out quite as well this year or to predict whether or not similar conditions will produce similar results as last year. However, he said some early signs could be positive indicators.
— (Poetter 2 20 sec. "We do have some more … quality that they were getting.")
Poetter expects effort this season to be similar to that of last year, but he said that the more promising forecasts for pink salmon in Southeast Alaska this year compared with last could affect effort in Sand Point.
— (Poetter 3 15 sec. "We did see a few boats … talking about five, ten boats.")
The Sand Point area will see few changes in its management strategy this year from previous years. Poetter said June openings are on schedule, and that after that, Fish and Game will evaluate local stocks and escapements for post-June plans.
— (Poetter 4 33 sec. "We’ll see how our local … some good harvests over there.")
The test fishery will begin the first week of July, during which Fish and Game will charter a vessel and test the threshold for immature salmon, which is set at 100 immature salmon per set that are caught in a three-and-a-half inch seine web. The test fishery determines whether certain areas will re-open to seiners and set-netters, or remain closed.
— (Poetter 5 44 sec. "Basically, we go out and … do not go into the threshold.")
Fish and Game will hold a preseason fishery stakeholders’ meeting Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the Aleutians East Borough building in Sand Point. Poetter said the open-forum meeting is an opportunity to discuss the upcoming salmon season. Included on the agenda will be 2009 projections, management strategy and the test fishery. Poetter said fishermen, industry representatives and interested members of the community are encouraged to attend.
I’m Erik Wander.