Poor King Salmon Runs Adds to Fishing Restrictions

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by Russ Slaten

Poor king salmon runs have occurred all over Alaska and state biologists say the ocean may be to blame.

By state Department of Fish and Game standards, all regions-- the Southeast, Southcentral and interior regions of Alaska-- have seeen low returns of king salmon.

The problem is not a freshwater issue which is usually isolated to a particular drainage, said state biologists. Similar to other species, salmon populations go through cycles. Biologists said the king salmon population has been on a gradual decline for about five years now, and poor returns can be anything from lacking a proper food source or being target of predation in the ocean.

In addition to state biologists observations, the North Pacific Management Council said the bycatch from commercial fishing trawlers may be playing a role in the decline of king salmon.

"We have seen poor returns in the past. We have seen these cycles of poor productivity. We have come out of them in the past. So we're charged with making sure we get enough fish on the spawning grounds to achieve escapement goals, so we're giving them the best chance to go back out on the ocean and try it again," said biologist Tom Vania of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Go to Alaska Department of Fish and Game website to find out about fishing restrictions in your area.

Alaska Department of Fish & Game: www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=newsreleases.main

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