- Associated Press - Thursday, June 19, 2014

BETHEL, Alaska (AP) - Patience is wearing thin for fishermen along the Kuskokwim River, where restrictions on salmon fishing have been in place for weeks. But federal managers said they are considering at least a partial opening soon for gillnetters.

Bethel test-fishery numbers have shown more chum and sockeye salmon than kings in the river, which could bode well for the season opening soon. The managers’ top priority has been getting enough kings to spawning grounds after a 2013 run that was the weakest on record and not having made escapement in two of the past four years. Escapement refers to the number of fish allowed to escape a fishery and spawn.

This year’s run is early, and data have indicated that early runs can end quickly, KYUK reported (https://bit.ly/1rc6FDD).

Kuskokwim River Salmon Management Working Group members urged fishermen and community leaders at a meeting earlier this week to remain calm. Working group member Fritz Charles said he’d heard about possible violence on the river.

“We’re all in it together. And so it’s up to us to calm . when we hear the kind of volatile remarks like that, it’s up to us to calm people, and I’m serious about that,” the group’s co-chair, Bev Hoffman, said.



Tim Andrew, from the Association of Village Council Presidents, said people are anxious about not having enough food, with the rainy season approaching. “There needs to be accommodation at some point or some level of assurance from this body or from managers that there is going to be something positive on the horizon coming up,” he said.

Federal manager Brian McCaffery said officials were looking at a possible first opening for fishing, at least downriver, within days, with an opening that would target chum and red salmon. Openings would then likely move up river, according to the plan he laid out.

“I think there is a glimmer there,” he said. “I certainly know that it has been a difficult season for everyone. But we see openings on the horizon, so we’re hoping people can be patient.”

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Information from: KYUK-AM, https://www.kyuk.org

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