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ALASKA DEPARTMENT OF FISH & GAME STATE OF ALASKA Douglas Regional Office Department of Fish and Game P.O. Box 240020 Wayne Regelin, Acting Commissioner Douglas, Alaska 99824 Contact: Scott Kelley Tom Brookover Phone: (907) 465-4250 · Fax: (907) 465-4944 (907) 747-3881 Fax: (907) 747-6239 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 15, 2005 DIRECTED KING SALMON FISHERIES IN DISTRICTS 8 AND 11 Juneau The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) today announced guidelines for directed fisheries that will be held in Districts 8 and 11 for Stikine and Taku River king salmon. The Board of Fisheries recently approved emergency regulations for directed king salmon fisheries and delegated authority to the Commissioner to sign the regulations which will be in affect for the 2005 season. These will be the first commercial fisheries directed at harvesting Stikine and Taku River king salmon since the mid to late 1970s when the terminal areas were closed to rebuild the runs. Preseason forecasts indicate that substantial returns of king salmon will be available in 2005 for both the Stikine and Taku rivers. The forecast of the Stikine stock returning to District 8 is approximately 80,300 fish and the combined sport and commercial harvest in Alaska may exceed 27,000 fish. The forecast for the Taku stock returning to District 11 is approximately 99,000 fish and the combined sport and commercial harvest in Alaska may exceed 23,000 fish. The allowable harvest for approximately the first three weeks of the fisheries will be based upon pre-season forecasts. The final weeks of the fisheries will be based upon in-season projections, which are derived from marking and recapturing returning king salmon in the Stikine and Taku rivers. Drift Gillnet Fisheries The gillnet fisheries in Districts 8 and 11 will open on Monday, May 2, 2005. The District 8 opening will begin at 8:00 am and the District 11 opening will be at 12:01 pm. For District 8, the first opening will be for four days and close at 8:00 a.m. on Friday, May 6. For District 11 the first opening will be for two days and is scheduled to close on Wednesday, May 4. Drift gillnet fisheries in both Districts may not be opened on weekends or State or Federal holidays. The length of subsequent openings will depend upon the numbers of boats fishing, the numbers of king salmon harvested, and results from inseason stock assessment projects. Initially there will be no special mesh restrictions for the District 8 fishery. The maximum mesh size for the District 11 fishery is 7.5 inches through the third Sunday in June. There will be no special restrictions regarding gillnet length and depth, existing regulations for gillnet length and depth may be found in 5 AAC 33.331 (b) and (c). Directed King Salmon NR Page 2 of 5 3/15/05 The Board of Fisheries adopted specific closed waters for drift gillnet fisheries in both Districts. For District 8 there are seven areas where king salmon are usually concentrated that will be closed to gillnetting for varying lengths of time. These closures were supported by the Petersburg and/or Wrangell Advisory Committees and are designed to provide sport fishermen with exclusive areas for fishing without interference from commercial fishing gear and/or to provide increased protection for steelhead returning to Petersburg Creek and to Bear Creek on Mitkof Island. Closed waters for gillnetting in District 8 include areas near Babbler Point, Wrangell Harbor, the Nose on Woronkofski Island, Greys Pass, Banana Point on Mitkof Island, Coney Island and Point Frederick to Beacon Point. The exact closed waters will be identified in the gillnet news release prior to each opening. The closures at Babbler Point, Wrangell Harbor and the Nose will run through Saturday, June 11. The Greys Pass, Banana Point and Coney Island closures will run through Memorial Day, May 30. The closure from Point Frederick to Beacon Point will continue through the sockeye fishery to protect Petersburg Creek sockeye stocks. That closure will be needed to protect the sockeye returns to Petersburg Creek because an extensive fishery for Stikine bound sockeye is expected in Frederick Sound through mid-July. One area of closed waters that will be relaxed is the Stikine River closure. The line for the initial opening will be the upper line that is used during large returns of sockeye. That line runs from Indian Point in LeConte Bay to Point Rothsay on the Stikine flats. In District 8 for the week before Memorial Day the drift gillnet fishery will be open a maximum of 2 days to prevent conflicts with the king salmon derbies in Petersburg and Wrangell. Waters of Section 11-B that will be opened for drift gillnet fishing up to the third Sunday in June are shown in Figure 1. This provision is in regulation and may be found in 5 AAC 33.310 (c)(4)(A). Drift gillnet fishermen are asked to notify management biologists, who will be monitoring the fishery, of any incidence of steelhead and to record any steelhead that are retained on fish tickets. King salmon that are less than 28 harvested in the commercial drift gillnet fisheries may be retained and sold as usual. King salmon less than 28" in length and those of Alaska hatchery origin will not be counted against the Alaskan share of the allowable harvest. Processors are requested to identify the numbers of king salmon less than 28 on the fish tickets as well as the numbers of king salmon 28 or greater. Fish and Game samplers working at the processing facilities will identify hatchery-reared king salmon so those fish are not counted against the Alaskan share of the harvest. Troll Fisheries The Board of Fisheries adopted regulatory language that allows for spring troll fisheries in portions of Districts 8 and 11 in 2005. In District 8 spring troll fisheries will be allowed seven days per week in three existing spring troll fishing areas when the directed drift gillnet king salmon fishery is open (Figure 2). Those areas include the Baht Harbor, Chichagof Pass, and Craig Point fisheries that were opened in 2004. If the directed commercial drift gillnet king salmon fishery is closed the troll fishery will be managed according to the provisions of the existing spring troll management plan [5 AAC 29.090]. Commercial trolling will be allowed in two areas of District 11 (Figure 1). Waters of Section 11-A on the west side of Douglas Island will be open concurrently with the commercial drift gillnet fishery in Section 11-B. Waters of Section 11-B south of Cove Point will be open five days per week, Monday-Friday. If the directed commercial drift gillnet king salmon fishery is closed trolling will be closed in both areas. Directed King Salmon NR Page 3 of 5 3/15/05 Sport Fisheries Regulations adopted by the Board provide for additional sport fishing opportunity to harvest Taku and Stikine River king salmon near Juneau and Petersburg in 2005. Board actions that will affect the sport fishery near Petersburg included reopening the Greys Passage area, a large area near the mouth of the Stikine River that has been seasonally closed since 1978 to assist in rebuilding Stikine stocks of king salmon. In 2005, the Greys Passage area will be open to the harvest of king salmon for the first time since 1978. Regulations adopted by the Board also liberalize harvest limits and methods and means in waters of District 8, including the Greys Passage area, from May 1 through July 15. During this period in District 8, sport fishing may be conducted by the use of two lines (rods) per angler, the bag and possession limit will be three king salmon 28 inches in length or greater, and king salmon caught will not count toward the nonresident annual limit. Board actions that will affect the sport fishery near Juneau included reopening the Taku Inlet area, an area that has been seasonally closed since 1976 to assist in rebuilding Taku River king salmon stocks. In 2005, the Taku Inlet area will be open to the harvest of king salmon for the first time since 1976. Regulations adopted by the Board also liberalize harvest limits and methods and means in waters of District 11, Sections 11-A and 11-B, including Taku Inlet, from April 25 through June 30. During this period in Sections 11- A and 11-B, sport fishing may be conducted by the use of two lines (rods) per angler, the bag and possession limit will be three king salmon 28 inches in length or greater, and king salmon caught will not count toward the nonresident annual limit. Additional information regarding the details of the drift gillnet and commercial troll fisheries in Districts 8 and 11 will be available in the Southeast Alaska Drift Gillnet and Spring Troll Fishery Management Plan and subsequent Commercial Fisheries Division news releases. Directed King Salmon NR Page 4 of 5 3/15/05 Figure 1. Waters of Section 11-B that will be opened for commercial drift gillnet fishing and commercial trolling in 2005. Directed King Salmon NR Page 5 of 5 3/15/05 Figure 2. District 8 Spring troll fishery areas. News releases can be found on our web site at: http://documents.cf1.adfg.state.ak.us/TopicContents.po Phone numbers for the Southeast Area Offices are: Juneau 465-4250, Sitka 747-6688, Ketchikan 225-5195, Petersburg 772-3801, Wrangell 874-3822, Haines 766-2830, and Yakutat 784-3255. For enforcement related questions or comments, contact Alaska Bureau of Wildlife Enforcement at the following numbers: Ketchikan 225-5111, Petersburg 772-3983, Sitka 747-3254, Juneau 465-4000, Haines 766-2533, Yakutat 784-3220.
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