Cook Inlet areas to see sport, commercial king salmon closures
State officials have ordered a series of early-season sport and commercial fishing closures in the Cook Inlet region for king salmon, which have been plagued by poor runs across the state in recent years.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced Tuesday that the entire Susitna River drainage will be closed to sport harvesting of kings. The subsistence fishery in the Tyonek Subdistrict is slated to remain open.
“Sport fishing for king salmon will only be allowed in the Deshka River and Yentna River system,” Fish and Game officials wrote. “These drainages will be restricted to catch-and-release only for king salmon; no harvest will be allowed.”
In addition, the northern district of Upper Cook Inlet will be closed to all commercial fishing with set gillnets on May 28, as well as June 4, 11 and 18. The northern district fishery will be open for the regular fishing season from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays beginning on June 25, unless closed or modified.
State officials said monitoring of the drainage last year showed that only two of 14 monitored fish stocks achieved their escapement goals. Fish and Game is expecting about 12,800 kings on the Deshka River during the pre-season, versus sustainable escapement goals of 13,000 to 28,000 fish.
“Based on the forecast, the actual run to the Deshka River is not large enough to achieve the [sustainable escapement goal], even with no harvest,” Fish and Game officials wrote.
State officials hope to restore fishing opportunities as available, depending on whether escapement goals are met.
Joe Vigil contributed information to this story.
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