Too many fish raises some minor concerns with biologists

Posted: Friday, June 21, 2002

KODIAK (AP) -- Salmon stocks don't show any major ill effects from the delayed salmon season, but the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is concerned with over-escapement in the Karluk and Malina areas.

''This is the second year in a row that we're going to have escapements well in excess of what our goals are in Karluk, one of our larger producers,'' said Kevin Brennan, Fish and Game fisheries biologist. ''Last year it was because the run was exceptionally strong and early. this year it is because the fishermen didn't fish for nearly a week.''

Brennan said biologists have counted almost 360,000 fish through the weir at Karluk, far above the desired maximum of 250,000.

Kodiak has both wild and hatchery-raised salmon runs, Brennan said. Fish and Game stocks lakes so that a combination of wild and hatchery fish return to spawn.

Too many fish can cause problems, Brennan said. Large spawning populations result in a large fry hatch the following season that can overgraze phytoplankton and zooplankton in the lake. That results in a lower survival rate, Brennan said.

For the two areas of concern, he worries that future salmon production could be lower.

''The way we'll determine that is when we start doing research work on the lake and looking at the zooplankton and phytoplankton populations. We will look at their numbers and the types that are out there for fry,'' he said.

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