salmon

Sabine Poux/KDLL

This particular pocket of Beaver Creek is not far from the road, just a short and muddy tromp away from a gravel parking lot between Kenai and Soldotna. But it’s home to several cold water inputs that could be crucially important for young salmon as they swim from the Kenai River to Cook Inlet.


Courtesy of Hannah Etengoff

To most Alaskans, it’s food. To some, a livelihood. To others, a sport. No matter how you slice it, or filet it, salmon is deeply important to Alaskans. And salmon lovers across the state, like Steve Schoonmaker, of Kasilof, are celebrating the species today.

“First of all, I’m waking up and I’m remembering what Alaska Salmon Day means," he said. "And how lucky we are in Alaska to have wild salmon.”

Salmonfest returns

Aug 6, 2021
Sabine Poux/KDLL

After taking a year off in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Salmonfest is back, Aug. 6, 7 and 8. KDLL reporter Sabine Poux is at the fairgrounds in Ninilchik to see how the 10th annual music festival is shaping up. Cook Inletkeeper Executive Director Sue Mauger and Kenai Peninsula Fisher Poet performers says its important to celebrate salmon.

Krissy Dunker / Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Biologists have been working on eliminating northern pike from Kenai Peninsula lakes and streams for years. Northern pike are native to Alaska north of the Alaska Range in areas like Bristol Bay and Fairbanks, but they were introduced to lakes in Southcentral in the mid-20th century. Since then, they’ve been stuffing themselves on salmon fry and degrading salmon runs in the Mat-Su Valley, Anchorage, and the Kenai Peninsula.

"You get down in Southcentral where pike have been on the landscape 60 years or so—we have a before and after picture," said Krissy Dunker, who manages the Southcentral Alaska Invasive Species program for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. "We know certain systems that used to produce coho, chinook and other things, and those are gone now. It’s just pike."

Alaska Department of Fish and Game

The Kenai River is the most popular river for sport fishing in Alaska.

It’s a great thing for the hundreds of thousands of anglers who flock to the peninsula each year, and the companies that benefit from their business. But increased development along the river can also threaten salmon habitat. 

Photo: Sabine Poux/KDLL

A Massachusetts company is sending genetically modified salmon to dinner tables in the U.S. for the first time. AquaBounty Technologies said it’s shipping five tons of bioengineered salmon to distributors this month.

It’s marketed as a sustainable alternative to other kinds of salmon. But AquaBounty’s fish hasn’t received the warmest reception in Alaska, where it’s often called “Frankenfish.”


Ryan Hagerty/USFWS

It’s pretty well established that Alaska has more rivers and streams than any other state in the United States — which is hardly surprising, since it’s the largest state. Exactly how many of those rivers and streams host anadromous fish, though, is still a mystery.

Anadromous fish are those that spend part of their life at sea and part in freshwater, like salmon. Trout Unlimited and the Kenai Watershed Forum are trying to solve a little more of that mystery this summer.

Photo: Sabine Poux

Alaska sets aside money each year for projects that contribute to healthy salmon stocks and habitats.

The Alaska Sustainable Salmon Fund is the state’s share of a federal program geared toward protecting Pacific salmon populations. The fund is also distributed between five other states and tribal partners.


Rob Suryan

When a heat wave swept through the northeast Pacific ocean between 2014 and 2016, it changed the marine makeup of the Gulf of Alaska. The warm water decimated some commercial fish populations.

Some species bounced back right away. But a recent study from NOAA finds others are rebounding more slowly.

Redoubt Reporter

Commercial fishermen in Upper Cook Inlet are having a somewhat slow fishing season so far.

So far, only 361,000 salmon have been landed, which is only a little bit ahead of last year, when they ended the season with about a third less than the recent averages. Fish tickets are coming in on Wednesday, but they’re not event quite halfway to the average harvest by this time, said commercial fisheries management biologist Brian Marston. Average right now would be about 800,000.

Redoubt Reporter file photo

The annual throngs of fishermen that come from all over Southcentral Alaska to the Kenai River personal-use dipnet fishery are due to arrive in about three weeks, and the city of Kenai is letting them know to expect a few changes this year.

The fishery usually involves big crowds of people congegating on Kenai’s north and south beaches, all filling coolers full of salmon for the winter. In 2018, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game recorded more than 20,000 angler days fished in the Kenai River dipnet fishery. This year, the city of Kenai is making a few changes in hopes of preventing the spread of COVID-19 among the crowds.

In Cook Inlet salmon runs, increasing fish for one purpose means taking them away from another. On Tuesday, the Alaska Board of Fisheries passed a proposal intended to get more salmon into upper Cook Inlet streams, by restricting the commercial Central District drift fishery. 

The “conservation corridor” will be expanded, pushing the central drift fleet closer to shore to let more north-bound silver and sockeye salmon get to rivers in the Susitna drainage. 

“The highest user is the drift fleet, so, you know, we need to make up a little bit there and, unfortunately, I feel the highest user needs to come up with the change, I guess,” said Board member Fritz Johnson, from Dillingham.

Proposal 133 came from the Mat-Su Borough Fish and Wildlife Commission. That borough is stepping up advocacy for more fish allocation to Mat-Su streams, citing an economic analysis that sportfishing revenue has declined $150 million from 2007 to 2017. Board member John Wood, of Willow, championed that cause.

“I sit here and listen day after day after day about overescapement here and overescapement there. Please, someone show me in the entire Susitna basin where we have an overescapement issue. We don’t,” Wood said. “We’re just the opposite. If you want your most effective tool to minimize the northern-bound fish, this is it. If you want to help the Susitna rehabilitate those streams, this is the tool to do so." 

Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association

When the state Board of Fisheries meets in Seward next month, it will entertain a suite of proposals aimed at hatchery regulations. More than half a dozen proposals have been submitted and the deadline for comments on those proposals was Monday.


Anadromous work group to review habitat protection code

Nov 11, 2019

 

A new working group will review the Kenai Peninsula Borough’s code on habitat protection for anadromous streams. That section of code, last updated in some contentious votes in 2012 and 2013, called for a review every five years beginning in 2015.

 

 


The Alaska Department of Health recorded an unusually high number of cases this summer of a rare allergy-like condition related to unsafely handled fish.
    The condition is Scombroid Poisoning, and is usually associated with tuna, mackerel and mahi-mahi. But at least four of the seven victims of Scombroid reported eating salmon immediately before onset of symptoms. According to CDC figures, of 1,555 cases over the past 20 years, only 11 have been associated with salmon.

Commercial catches lagging behind in late sockeye run

Jul 29, 2019
United Cook Inlet Drift Association

 

Commercial fisheries in Upper Cook Inlet are also getting more time to harvest the late run of sockeye to the Kenai and Kasilof rivers.

Netting knowledge during Fish Week

Jul 17, 2019
Shaylon Cochran/KDLL

 

As the return of fish to the Kenai Peninsula nears its historic halfway point, the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge is putting a spotlight on salmon for Fish Week.

 

 


Impromptu salmon grill benefits food bank

Jun 11, 2019
Jay Barrett/KDLL

Andy Seitz, University of Alaska Fairbanks

 

Researchers now have a better idea of what’s eating king salmon in the open ocean. A new study from the University of Alaska Fairbanks College of Fisheries and Ocean Science found kings filling the bellies of salmon sharks, but that wasn’t the information they were after.

 

 


A months long review of escapement goals for salmon in the Upper Cook Inlet won’t immediately affect the king salmon fishery on the Kenai River, but some fisheries at the Kasilof might be affected.

Fish and Games sports fish and commercial fish divisions met five times since November for an interdivisional escapement goal review. Because the recommendations were needed before a board of fisheries deadline for comments on April 10.

Fishermen of all stripes struggled during another down year in 2018. While the numbers look a bit better heading into 2019, especially for Cook Inlet sockeye, the overall trend isn't a positive one. On this week's conversation, long time setnetter Ken Coleman talks about how that corner of the fishing community has had to adapt and what policies will help sustain the fishery.


The sockeye salmon run to the Kenai River this summer should be average. That’s according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s 2019 Upper Cook Inlet salmon forecast, released on Friday.

The forecast run for the whole inlet is for 6,035,000 sockeye, which is above the 20-year average of 5.8 million.

The Kenai River has a total run projection of 3.8 million sockeye, about a quarter-million more than the average. The 2019 goal is for 1 million to1.3 million to escape to the spawning grounds.

ECON 919 - Declaring the 2018 fishing season a disaster

Nov 30, 2018

 

The 2018 fishing season didn’t leave many positives to look back on, and in fact, presented some new challenges. The borough assembly joined the city of Kenai and the city of Homer in requesting a formal disaster declaration for the 2018 salmon season, including commercial and sport fisheries and related businesses.

 

 


Signs of ancient salmon culture persist

Sep 17, 2018
Shaylon Cochran/KDLL

 

Last week, we reported on a panel discussion that took place in Soldotna about salmon habitat. One of the takeaways from that event was the fact that in many areas of the world that have lost their wild salmon runs, gone too is a culture based around salmon. But on the Kenai Peninsula, both the fish and the culture they spawn remain.

 

 


 

Jenny Neyman/KDLL

July on the Kenai Peninsula means one thing to most people — fishing. Even if you don’t put a line in the water, it’s likely your friends, neighbors, co-workers or certainly the people in line ahead of you at the store do.

The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Visitors Center has you covered this week.

“Fish week at the refuge is all about everything fish, so, not just fishing, but we started out on Tuesday talking about the anatomy of fish and what fish need to survive — so, habitat and what makes a healthy stream. Things like that,” said Leah Eskelin, park ranger with the visitors services department at the refuge.


 

Thursday was a slightly better day for sockeye returns to the Kenai river. But some of those fish coming back have raised a little curiosity.

  The last series of lakes in the central peninsula to be treated for invasive northern pike is the subject of a public meeting Thursday night. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game will have on hand the project biologist, the area sport fishery manager, and the area research supervisor will be in attendance to answer questions. 

The public meeting will be from 5:30 to 7:30 Thursday evening at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center.

Alaska Humanities Forum

Jennifer Gibbins, Ben Mohr and Mary Peltola, of the Alaska Humanities Forum’s Alaska Salmon Fellows program, talk about building consensus around salmon.

Ballot initiative would update habitat protection laws

Dec 20, 2017
Credit: Stand for Salmon

 

 

A citizen initiative planned for the 2018 state ballot would be a sweeping overhaul of state habitat regulations.

 

 


Jay Barrett/KDLL

 

 

An array of commercial, government and conservation interests were together for a salmon habitat policy forum in Kenai Thursday. The panelists centered their discussion on one main question.

 

 


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