Federal subsistence board halts fisheries on three rivers

Posted: Sunday, July 28, 2002

JUNEAU (AP) -- The Federal Subsistence Board has halted new coho salmon subsistence fisheries on the Taku, Alsek and Stikine rivers.

The subsistence board withdrew the fisheries at a work session in Anchorage on July 10 after hearing previously from fishery managers in Alaska and Canada that the salmon in those rivers, which start in Canada and flow through Southeast Alaska, are managed under the Pacific Salmon Treaty.

The rescission will last through the end of February to allow the subsistence board to work within the treaty's guidelines, the board said.

The loss of the federal subsistence fisheries ''matters greatly,'' said Bob Loescher, a member of the Southeast Alaska Inter-Tribal Fish and Wildlife Commission. ''It seems like we take one step forward and end up going two steps backward. That withdrawal of the rule was not well-known by the affected people.''

The action addresses concerns in Canada and is supported by the state, said Larry Buklis, a fisheries biologist with the federal Office of Subsistence Management in Anchorage.

The treaty between the United States and Canada regulates some salmon fisheries along the West Coast because the countries harvest some of the same fish stocks.

The federal subsistence fisheries on the Taku near Juneau, the Alsek near Yakutat, and the Stikine near Wrangell and Petersburg had been included in a regulation, set in December 2001, allowing coho subsistence fisheries throughout Southeast waters under federal jurisdiction.

The regulation allowed certain households to take 20 coho a day, with an annual limit of 40.

Gordon Zealand, a Canadian fisheries manager and co-chairman of a Pacific Salmon Commission panel on the transboundary rivers, said Canada's foremost concern was that there are not supposed to be new fisheries on those three rivers without agreement by the treaty participants.

''We just saw this as a potentially new fishery, and what are the consequences?'' he said from his Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, office. ''If you're going to start something new, obviously we have some views on whose quota this is going to come out of.''

The state of Alaska was concerned about the new fisheries' effects on spawning populations and how the catch would be monitored and reported, said Kevin Duffy, Alaska's member on the Pacific Salmon Commission and a deputy commissioner at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

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