ANCHORAGE (AP) -- The state Department of Fish and Game on Tuesday announced subsistence fishing restrictions on the Yukon River because of extremely poor king and chum salmon returns.
The move came a day before Gov. Tony Knowles scheduled an announcement on a possible disaster declaration for the region.
''The number of salmon arriving on the spawning grounds is unacceptably low throughout the Yukon River drainage,'' Tom Kron, fish and game's Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim regional supervisor, told KTUU-TV.
The runs of king and chum salmon are the lowest since statehood, and both state and federal fish managers say there may not even be enough to meet escapement goals and provide brood stock for future years.
''These people depend on these stocks for their sustenance, their livelihood, and other income sources out there are not great,'' said Tom Boyd, a federal subsistence manager. ''And so we have to think both short-term and long-term in making these decisions.''
The move to limit subsistence fishing was made by state biologists. From the village of Anvik, roughly 150 miles north of Bethel, to the Canadian border, subsistence fishing is being limited to two 24-hour periods per week. Downstream from Anvik, fishing will be allowed for just one 12-hour period per week, but fishermen in those areas have already had a chance to meet their subsistence needs, according to state officials. The rules go into effect at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
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