On Frontiers, we’ve followed the ups and downs of the king salmon crisis on the Kuskokwim River in Southwest Alaska. In 2013, their numbers hit record lows, but improved last year, to allow a limited subsistence harvest.

Hopes were dashed this season when the king run took another turn for the worse and is projected to hit another record low.

It’s been an emotional roller coaster for families who live along this river, who depend on salmon as a staple of their diet.

Scientists are not sure what to make of the big picture. King salmon numbers have improved on the Yukon, which typically tracks with the Kuskokwim. The Copper River kings were also stronger than expected this year. But in Southeast Alaska, the Stikine and Taku Rivers have also seen record low runs.

On our show this week, we’ll try to understand the fallout from the salmon shortages and explore why different rivers have had different outcomes.

Some of the highlights:

    • Kuskokwim Kings: Why scientists believe the cause of the King crisis is out in the ocean.
    • Featured Guests: LaMont Albertson, co-chair of the Kuskokwim River Salmon Management Work Group, talks about the cultural and economic implications of the salmon shortfall. Dr. Katie Howard, a research biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, shares some of her work. Howard believes sea ice may be important to salmon survival – as well as what happens in their first year in the ocean.
    • Pollock, Kodiak’s Fortune Fish: Alaska Fish Radio’s Laine Welch gives us a tour of a fish plant in Kodiak. So many machines, so many people — and so much fish. Pollock helps to keep the plant operating year round, between the halibut and salmon seasons.

We hope this program gives you a better appreciation of what fish means to different communities — because whether you catch eat or smoke it, fish is probably the one thing Alaskans have in common.