Sonar glitch miscounts Kenai kings

Numbers off about 1,000 a day

Posted: Sunday, July 24, 2005

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced some bad news and good news late Friday.

First, the bad news.

During its annual sonar system calibration recently, an error was noted in the measurement of the system sensitivity for the Kenai River Chinook Sonar — located 8.6 miles from the mouth of the Kenai River.

According to a Fish and Game press release, this error in the calibration resulted in a "significant underestimation" of the number of fish entering the river.

For example, on July 12 the counter recorded the largest daily total of kings entering the river as of yet in the late run. It was believed that 1,711 fish had passed the counter for a cumulative total of 14,894 late-run kings so far this season.

However, after compensating for the sonar glitch, Fish and Game has determined 2,463 fish passed the counter that day for a cumulative total of 15,744 late-run kings up to that date.

The press release stated that "while the level of the error would not have caused them to make different management decisions earlier this season, it could have had potentially adverse affects on future fisheries management decisions."

Now, the good news.

Now that the calibration error is known and has been corrected, Fish and Game has reanalyzed and recalculated the data for late-runs kings in the Kenai River and concluded the new numbers are much greater than previously thought.

According to Fish and Game's press release, the "late king salmon run is healthy and consistent with the department's preseason forecast."

As of Friday, 28,568 late-run kings have passed the sonar site.

The projected end of the season in-river run is now 45,000-55,000 and close to the preseason forecast of 61,000.

The projected end of the season escapement of 30,000-40,000 is at, or slightly above, the escapement goal range of 17,800-35,700.

According to Fish and Game, Kenai River early-run king salmon data will also need re-evaluation, but for now anglers should expect plenty of opportunity to catch kings for the remainder of the season as no restrictions are anticipated at this time.

Revised daily and cumulative estimates have been posted on the Sport Fish Southcentral Fish Count Web page at:

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