One day after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a Seattle judge’s ruling that had shut down the Southeast Alaska chinook troll fishery, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game delivered the catch limit news to the troll fishermen, specifying the number of kings they are allowed to catch during the upcoming season.
Commercial trollers will have a total allocation of 74,800 chinook salmon during the first retention period, which begins July 1. Based on data from past years, the department thinks that the goal will be reached in 9-10 days, depending on weather.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game had already announced that between October 2022 and September 30, 2023, trollers would be permitted to harvest 149,100 treaty chinook. Those are not fish originating from Alaska hatcheries. This represents a reduction of 44,100 fish compared to the previous year, amounting to a 30% decrease.
The adjustment in harvest limits can be attributed to the Pacific Salmon Commission’s implementation of a more conservative approach to setting chinook harvest caps for Southeast Alaska. As the regulatory body overseeing fishing practices along the West Coast of the United States and Canada, the PSC makes the catch allocations between the two countries under the U.S.-Canada Pacific Salmon Treaty.
Following the allocation decision, the Alaska Board of Fisheries must approve the management plans that divide the state’s catch among various gear types and user groups.
More information on the exact details of the commercial Southeast chinook fishery can be found at this ADF&G announcement.
Meanwhile, Wild Fish Conservancy, which brought the lawsuit to try to shut down commercial king trolling in Southeast Alaska, said “the appeals process is just beginning,” indicating that the group may make an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. That appeal could likely be after the July troll fishery, which is is just four days away.