Southeast sport fishermen exceed treaty quota

Posted: Tuesday, October 31, 2000

KETCHIKAN (AP) -- Sport fishermen in Southeast Alaska took about 4,400 more chinook salmon covered by the Pacific Salmon Treaty than they were allotted this year.

Resident and nonresident sport anglers hooked approximately 52,000 chinook salmon in Southeast, said Stephen Hoffman, the Department of Fish and Game's area management biologist for sport fishing.

Of that harvest, 39,400 fish are considered ''treaty kings'' and count toward a 35,000 sport fish limit on wild kings.

The remaining 12,600 harvested chinook originated from Southeast Alaska hatcheries and do not count toward the treaty limit.

Under the state's King Salmon Management Plan treaty's management plan, those fish will be deducted from the sport allocation when the total king quota for Southeast increases.

''In essence, we are starting the next year with negative 4,400 fish,'' Hoffman said. ''But under the King Salmon Management Plan that the Board of Fish adopted we will carry those fish forward and we will not have to pay them back right away.''

The quota is calculated from the chinook abundance index, which is produced by an international panel of scientists who use a complex mathematical formula to determine king salmon abundance on the Pacific coast.

The 2001 abundance index won't come out until early May of next year, said Hoffman.

''We are telling people to be prepared because it looks like the abundance model number isn't going to jump up dramatically, but until the final numbers are in we won't know for sure,'' Hoffman said. The sport fishery gets 20 percent of the total king salmon quota for Southeast Alaska. Commercial fishing takes the remaining 80 percent.

Hoffman said, overall, next year's sport fishery looks positive because Fish and Game met most of this year's escapement goals for wild salmon stocks and there was good survival of hatchery-bred fish.

''I think we are out of the dark days when we had real poor returns to our hatcheries and some reduced returns to our wild stocks,'' Hoffman said. ''I think the next two or three years are going to be pretty good.''

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