Chinook Salmon. The Yukon River Panel

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1 Chinook Salmon and The Yukon River Panel Jan Conitz, ADF&G UAF FISH 493 Discussion January 26, 2016

2 Discussion Outline I. Yukon River context Salmon and Yukon River basics Fishing and history on the Yukon Current fisheries management II. The Yukon River Panel Pacific Salmon Treaty Yukon River Salmon Agreement Yukon River Panel and Joint Technical Committee III. An emerging habitat issue in the Yukon Next Generation Hydro How will the Yukon River Panel respond?

3 Part I Yukon River Context Salmon and Yukon River basics Fishing and history on the Yukon Current fisheries management

4 U.S. Canada Porcupine R Koyukuk R Andreafsky R Anvik R Yukon R Tanana R Chena R Salcha R Delta R White R Klondike R Pelly R Teslin R

5

6 Glaciated Upper Yukon Erosional Landscape Photo: A. Von Finster

7 Glaciated Upper Yukon Depositional Landscape Photo: A. Von Finster

8

9

10 Yukon River at Galena in February

11 Test Fish Crew at Pilot Station Sonar Site

12

13

14 Yukon River Fish Transboundary salmon Chinook salmon Fall chum salmon Coho salmon Alaska salmon Summer chum salmon Pink salmon Sockeye salmon (very minor run) Other fish Ciscos, Sheefish, Whitefish, Burbot, Lamprey

15

16 Chinook Spawning Migration River entry begins late May early June Duration (lower river) ~6 weeks or less Enter in several pulses Timing and speed related to distance: upper river spawners early, lower river spawners late Upper stocks: km/d Lower stocks: km/d Slow down at approach to home territory Pulses spread out as they progress upriver

17 Canada Tanana Koyukuk Upper US Middle US Lower US Map courtesy of USFWS Migration begins late May early June Lasts 6 weeks or less

18 Chinook salmon habitat in Alaska ADF&G Anadramous Waters Catalog

19 Chinook salmon habitat in Canada (locations of radio-tagged Chinook salmon) Slide courtesy of Al von Finster

20 Photos: J. Conitz Fishing

21 Fish trap and rack of drying salmon, lower Yukon River

22

23 Hauling boats and kayaks out of water at Russian Mission, Yukon River Alaska State Library Historical Collections

24 Fishing Boats at Emmonak Yukon River Delta

25

26 Fish Processor and Buying Station in Emmonak Yukon Delta Fisheries Development Association a CDQ group

27 Early Commercial Fisheries Mixed subsistence-commercial economies Early barter and trade along the river and beyond Gold Rush (Klondike, Nome, etc) created demand to supply miners, dog teams (chum salmon) Full-scale export fisheries - began in 1918 Carlisle Cannery large catch in poor run year (1919), widespread salmon shortages upriver Prompted first fisheries investigation in first full-time biologist in Yukon area

28 State of Alaska and Abundance Based Management Sustainable Salmon Policy Maintain wild stocks and habitats Effective management systems Public support and involvement Precautionary principle when uncertain Escapement Goal Policy Escapement needs are #1 priority Assessment and research for setting goals Inseason monitoring to achieve goals

29 Challenges for Management Basic Species mix Run timing, spatial distribution Fishing power Number of fishermen and boats Type and amount of gear Gear efficiency CPUE Advanced Stock diversity genetic, geographic, age-size Subsistence priority Dual state-federal management on federal lands

30 Migration timing more than just Chinook salmon Pilot Station 2013

31 Part II Yukon River Panel Pacific Salmon Treaty Yukon River Salmon Agreement Yukon River Panel and Joint Technical Committee

32

33

34 Pacific Salmon Treaty Regions Transboundary Northern Fraser River Sockeye - Pink Southern

35 Yukon River Salmon Agreement Annex (Chapter 8) of the Pacific Salmon Treaty, signed in 2002 Emphasizes: rebuilding and conservation of stocks viable fisheries priority for subsistence and aboriginal fisheries Yukon Panel does not report to Pacific Salmon Commission

36 Yukon River Panel 6 appointed (public) members each side Makes recommendations to designated management agencies on each side Joint Technical Committee (JTC): provides scientific and technical advice Restoration & Enhancement Fund: $1.2m per year for conservation, restoration, stewardship projects

37 Yukon River Panel members and staff at work at a meeting in Whitehorse, December 2013

38 Yukon Panel Roles (simplified) US Panel member roles Alaska Native lower river fisherman (subsistence commercial) Mid or upper river resident subsistence lifestyle Commercial processor (lower or mid river) State or Federal fisheries manager Canadian Panel member roles First Nation community leader Urban conservationist recreational fisher DFO fisheries manager Joint Technical Committee - biologist

39 Two-sided Perspectives Alaska: The Yukon River flows some 1,200 miles through US territory. People all along the river have depended on the salmon for thousands of years. We need to protect their rights to fish, both for subsistence and to make a living. Most of the salmon Alaskans catch are of Alaska origin. Canada: The salmon that spawn in the productive waters of our upper river tributaries rightfully belong to us. First Nations people have depended on these salmon for millenia to sustain them and their way of life. We need to protect these salmon from over-harvest in the US, including Bering Sea by-catch.

40 Questions for Discussion Should all fisheries in Alaska be closed until the border escapement goal is met? Does ADF&G produce an accurate estimate of Canadianorigin salmon in the harvest? Should there be a penalty or other consequence if the escapement goal is not met? Can we increase the Chinook salmon population by incubating and rearing some fish in hatcheries? Can First Nations help the Chinook salmon by foregoing harvest beyond what is necessary for escapement goals? Are habitat problems in Canada contributing to low salmon returns?

41 Part III An Emerging Habitat Issue Next Generation Hydro How will the Yukon River Panel respond? Whitehorse Dam built in 1956

42 Next Generation Hydro Project of the Yukon Territorial Government to identify hydroelectric projects for long-term (20-50 year horizon) energy needs Currently most (99.9%) electricity in YT is from hydro Whitehorse Dam is largest (others are Mayo and Aishihik) Site review and screening in progress Project(s) may take years to complete What could be the impacts to salmon? How can the Yukon River Panel have a say in the outcome?

43

44 Impacts of Proposed Yukon Hydro Dams Project Detour Canyon (Pelly) Fraser Falls (Stewart) Granite Canyon (Pelly) Two Mile Canyon (Stewart) Slate Rapids & Hoole Canyon (Pelly) Dam height * Reservoir area (km 2 ) Average drawdown Impact to fish & habitat Mining access area New road needed 72 m * m High ~10,800 ha 90 km 56 m * m High ~7,800 ha 40 km 60 m * m High ~35 ha 15 km 68 m * m High ~380 ha 110 km 57 m * m High ~19,100 ha 10 km * Fish ladder proposed Source:

45 Whitehorse Rapids Hatchery Built in 1984 by Yukon Energy to mitigate for dam (built in 1956) Produces K Chinook fry per year (capacity ~800K) Fry released in tributaries above the dam Hatchery survival rate ~1.6% (fry adult) Wild survival rate extremely low

46 Questions for Discussion What to we need to know about impacts to salmon habitat? Are the proposed fish ladders (or other mitigation such as trucking) adequate? What about juveniles migrating downstream? Could hatchery production offset the loss? Should fishermen in Alaska have a voice in decisions about dams in Canada? Is this an area where Canadian and Alaskan members could be aligned?

47 As students in natural resources, you may well be contributing to the future of salmon and their habitat! Thank you for sharing your time and ideas.

48 50-Year Harvest Picture-All Fisheries Source: JTC annual report 2013

49 100-Year Harvest Picture Commercial only - US Sources: Pennoyer et al. 1965; JTC 2013

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