- Associated Press - Saturday, July 26, 2014

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - Alaska fisheries managers said it appears they have achieved their goal of getting a sufficient number of Yukon River king salmon to their Canadian spawning grounds.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports (http://bit.ly/1rTzzJB ) that the number of king salmon counted as of this week by a sonar located near the village of Eagle near the Canadian border stood at 49,231.

That surpasses the minimum goal of 42,500 kings called for in the Pacific Salmon Treaty between the United States and Canada.

There’s a good chance the number of kings that reach Canada could surpass the upper end of the goal listed in the treaty, which is 55,000 fish, managers said.

It’s the first time in three years that the minimum treaty goal has been reached.

The decline in king salmon has led to fishing restrictions for subsistence fishermen who live along the river and depend on the salmon for food. This year, all fishing for kings - subsistence, commercial, sport and personal use - was closed in an effort to meet the goal.

“Everybody did their part, and we’re getting fish up there,” said Fred Bue, a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Fairbanks. “It’s been a sacrifice for many people, especially so many years in a row.”

Almost 3,000 kings -2,864 to be exact - passed the sonar on Thursday, the 13th day in a row that more than 2,000 fish were counted.

Last year, even with fishing restrictions in place to protect kings, only 30,725 kings passed the Eagle sonar.

“It’s a different story than last year,” said Eric Newland, Yukon area management biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. “Last year, there was quite a bit of conservation measures taken - and the run size didn’t show up at the border.”