Returns of hatchery coho and Chinook salmon in Anita Bay near Wrangell are expected to see an uptick this year. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game released the 2017 forecast this week for chum, coho and Chinook or king salmon.
Alaska Department of Fish and Game Assistant Area Management Biologist Tom Kowalske said about 15,400 kings are expected to return to the terminal hatchery area. That’s about 3,000 more than last year’s run, but returns have come in below forecasts for the past two years.
About 20,000 coho are forecasted, up from last year’s return of 11,300 fish. But, chum numbers are expected to be down.
“In Anita Bay, the chum run forecast is 481,000 fish, which is about 100,000 fish fewer than what returned in 2016,” Kowalske explained.
About 240,500 chums, 10,800 kings and 5,000 cohos are expected to be up for harvest. Kings are typically the first to return and show up late May and into June. Chums typically arrive in July, and the schedule for coho, which returns in the fall, will be released later this year.
The terminal hatchery area will open to all gear groups beginning in May.
“Starting June 12, the seine and gillnet gear groups go to a one-and-one ratio, gillnet to seine. So for every day seining occurs, the gillnet will be open,” Kowalske said. “That will continue until the end of July. The month of August will be a two-to-one fishery where gillnet is open for twice as much time as seine is.”
The rotation aims to benefit seiners, who typically catch more fish is a shorter amount of time. The gear group has come in below their allocations in recent years, the reason the rotation was adopted last year. Anita Bay will close Aug. 30.
The Southern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association releases fish in Anita Bay annually and generates forecasts. The association also suggests opening schedules to Fish and Game to be approved.