Statement from the Government of Yukon on Alaska’s pre-season restrictions for Chinook fisheries
Minister of Environment Nils Clarke has released the following statement in response to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s May 28 announcement that they will restrict both public and subsistence Chinook salmon fishing:
“We are pleased to see our partners in Alaska take necessary steps to restrict harvest and allow this iconic salmon species to return to their Canadian spawning grounds.
“Yukon has not had a public Chinook fishery for over a decade and Yukon First Nations have voluntarily restricted harvest for many years in an effort to increase salmon numbers and conserve the culture and sustenance the salmon provide. This is a significant and ongoing cultural and spiritual sacrifice from Yukon First Nation people.
“Despite these efforts, run sizes continue to decline. It is only through cooperation, shared knowledge, and respect for both fish and people on either side of the border that we can combat the threats this species faces from climate change, contaminants and impacts from land and water use.
“It has become clear that the current Yukon River salmon management regime is failing to reverse the declining Yukon salmon returns. Protecting wild salmon is central to preserving the cultural and social fabric as well as way of life in Yukon. We must all do our part to make sure this precious natural resource persists, now and for future generations.”
- Fisheries and Oceans Canada has stated the 2021 outlook for the Canadian harvest share could be less than 1,400 Chinook, which is about less than a fifth of a full First Nation fishery allocation.
- The extent of Alaska’s harvest restrictions depend on in-season counts of salmon passing up the river. Like Yukon, Alaska has not opened a public, sport or commercial fishery for Chinook for a number of years. However, their subsistence fishery is much larger and is not restricted to Indigenous Peoples.
- Even if this year’s escapement goal for Canadian-origin Chinook salmon is met, it is highly unlikely the Yukon River’s productive capacity is able to meet the demand for subsistence harvesters on either side of the border.