Poor sockeye escapement means poor sport and subsistence fishing near city

A fisherman at the mouth of the Buskin River. (Photo by Lisa Hupp/USFWS)

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

A poor early sockeye run continues to stunt sports and subsistence fishing close to the city.

As of Monday, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the majority of sockeye were caught at Alitak and along the west side of the island, and the numbers are still small. ADF & G expected harvest during the recent fishing period to result in 100,000 to 150,000 fish, but instead fishermen harvested around 63,000 sockeye.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is closing Pasagshak to sport fishing and subsistence as of today. They’re also closing Saltery Cove to subsistence and putting a two-fish bag limit in place for sport fishing. That’s in addition to the closures on sockeye fishing at the Buskin river watershed and Litnik, says ADF & G westward regional supervisor Nick Sagalkin.

“Anytime we make closures around town, the systems that are on the road system are more accessible, they’re easier for people to get to and so those might have a bigger impact to the average sports fisherman or certainly the resident that wants to have fishing opportunities.”

He says fishermen could diversify with other salmon, like pinks for example, but those numbers are poor so far. According to an ADF & G update, they caught fewer pinks than expected at the first opening this week: 18,000 fish as opposed to the predicted range of 50,000 to 100,000 fish.

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