The state projected in its species management
plan that king, or Chinook, salmon runs were expected to range
from 64,000 to 121,000, with the high end still lower than most
years this past decade.
Its clear from this run size that if we are going to ensure
the sustainability of this population over time, we need to get
all of those fish to the spawning grounds, Alaska Department of
Fish and Game biologist Stephanie Schmidt said.
The state is also bound by the U.S.-Canada Yukon River Agreement
to enable Canada-bound fish to reach spawning grounds across the
King salmon runs have not recovered to 2003 levels and have
enjoyed only an occasionally bump from previous years since.
These have led to repeated restrictions on subsistence and
commercial fishing as well as disaster declarations by the
In February, Congress approved nearly $21 million in relief for
six fishery disasters in 2012 and 2013, covering the Yukon and
Kuskokwim rivers and Cook Inlet.
The causes of the low count in a river that runs 1,200 miles
from the Bering Sea east into Canadian spawning grounds, remain
Last year, Alaska Governor Sean Parnell started a three-year,
$30 million study into king stocks statewide, including hard-hit
areas such as the Kuskokwim River as well as areas where kings
Separately, the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim Sustainable Salmon
Initiative, a collection of U.S. and Canadian federal agencies
and Indian groups, is also reviewing causes.
Salmon are born in fresh water, then swim to salt water where
they feed and mature before returning to fresh water rivers and
streams to spawn.
According to the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, kings are
among the largest salmon species but also the least abundant.
Kings are sought for their high oil content, making it ideal for
various preparation techniques: grilling, broiling, poaching,
(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Cynthia Osterman)
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