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Genetic Stock Identification of Fall Chum Salmon in Subsistence Harvest from the Tanana Area, Yukon River

The purpose of this 3-year project initiated by the Alaska Department of Fish & Game is to estimate the proportions of Canadian- and US-origin fall Chum Salmon caught in the Tanana subsistence fishery through the season. The community of Tanana harvests between 40% and 50% of the Yukon Area District 5 harvest (on average 20,000 fall Chum Salmon). Households in the Yukon Area District 5 harvest on average 60% of the fall Chum Salmon taken for subsistence in the Yukon River. The other large harvesters in District 5 include Fort Yukon and Eagle, both of which are located upstream of the Porcupine River and would consist of primarily Canadian-origin fish. In this study, genetic tissue samples will be collected and analyzed for stock composition in fish caught in the Yukon River near the community of Tanana on the right bank upstream to the Rampart Rapids area. Using genetic stock identification (GSI), sample sizes of 200 fish per stratum would be required to determine U.S. versus Canadian origin for each of 3 strata between August 15 and September 30. Knowing the stock composition of Canadian-origin fall Chum Salmon in this large and concentrated fishery in Tanana may provide more informed management decisions.

URE-05-16 Genetic mixed stock analysis of chum sal...

URE-05-15 GSI fall chum subsistance Tanana

URE-05-14N Genetic stock identification of fall ch...

 

Salmon Stewardship Coordinators for Yukon Schools

This program was formerly funded by the Yukon River Panel and managed by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The project as proposed will now be lead by a local Whitehorse consultant. The consultant will serve as the Salmon Stewardship Coordinator, and the program will place Salmon Stewards in Yukon communities to assist teachers with the delivery of DFO’s Stream to Sea program to all interested Yukon Schools and learning centres. The Coordinator will work closely with the Salmon Stewards to provide support to teachers in Yukon River salmon education activities, including aquarium incubation set-up, operation and maintenance; salmon ecology and biology; and/or participate in egg takes that can be facilitated near community schools. These hands on activities with youth have been identified as key near term Stewardship priority, and over the duration of the project, the coordinators will be responsible for continuing to build capacity within the schools and seek support from key community members to allow for the continuation of the Stream to Sea program.

CRE-02-18 Salmon Stewardship Coordinators for Yuko...

CRE-02-17 Salmon Stewardship Coordinators for Yuko...

CRE-02-16 Salmon Stewardship Coordinators for Yuko...

CRE-02-15 Salmon Stewardship Coordinators for Yuko...

CRE-02-14 Salmon Stewardship Coordinators for Yuko...

CRE 02-13 2013-14 Stewards report Final

CRE-02-12 Yukon Schools Salmon Stewardship Coordin...

 

Yukon River Pre-Season Planning Process

The project goal is to conduct public outreach to an adult audience of active Yukon River fishers to build a more aware public constituency that is motivated to maintain and protect salmon stocks of Canadian origin. Over the past ten years the Yukon River Drainage Fisheries Association (YRDFA) has hosted a one-day meeting to discuss pre-season planning for the management of declining Canadian origin Chinook salmon, fall chum and other important issues related to the upcoming fishing season. Meeting attendees include Tribal Council representatives, state and federal fisheries management agencies and other Yukon River fishery stakeholders. The meetings are a necessary annual event convening stakeholders, representing a majority of Yukon River fishing communities along the Alaskan portion of the Yukon River, with Alaskan agency fishery managers to discuss how to protect Canadian origin Chinook and fall chum salmon and meet other management goals.

This project has demonstrated that outreach through face-to-face meetings with the Yukon River public has led to increased community partnership with fisheries managers in their management efforts to conserve Canadian origin Chinook salmon.

CC-03-18. YRP R&E Summer Prep Final Report

CC-03-17 Yukon River Panel R&E Summer Prep draft F...

CC-03-16 2017 YRDFA Pre-Season Planning

CC-03-15 Preseason planning 2015

CC-03-14 Yukon River Pre-Season Planning Process

CC-03-13 Yukon River Pre-Season Planning Process

CC-03-12 Yukon River Summer Preparedness Process

CC-03-11 Summer Season Preparedness Final Report

 

 

Chinook Salmon Sonar Enumeration on the Big Salmon River

This project, which has been running at this site since 2005 and funded by the Restoration and Enhancement Fund since 2011, operates a sonar station on the Big Salmon River using a long range dual frequency identification sonar (DIDSON) to enumerate the Chinook salmon escapement each year, and conducts spawning ground sampling to obtain biological information on the stock. The goal of the project is to provide a long term dataset for inter-annual stock strength, run timing, ASL composition, and annual escapement estimates (for the Big Salmon and the Yukon Rivers) in addition to verifying the accuracy of the genetic proportions from Eagle.

The program works closely with the Juvenile Chinook Out-migrant Assessment Study and the Sonar Program in Eagle, Alaska.

CRE-41-20. 2020 Big Salmon Chinook Sonar Report - ...

CRE-41-19. Big Salmon Chinook Sonar Report 2019

CRE-41-18. 2018 Big Salmon Chinook Sonar Report

CRE-41-17 2017 Big Salmon Chinook Sonar Report - F...

CRE-41-16 2016 Big Salmon Chinook Sonar Report

CRE-41-15 Chinook Salmon Sonar Enumeration on the ...

CRE-41-14 Chinook Salmon Sonar Enumeration on the ...

CRE-41-13 Sonar Enumeration of Chinook Salmon on t...

CRE-41-12 Sonar Enumeration of Chinook Salmon on t...

CRE-41-11 Big Salmon Sonar

CRE-41-10 Chinook Salmon Enumeration on the Big Sa...

CRE-41-09 Big Salmon Sonar Final Report

CRE-41-08 Big Salmon River Chinook Sonar Report

CRE-41-07 Big Salmon Sonar Report

CRE-41-06 Chinook Salmon Sonar Enumeration on the ...

CRE-41-05 Chinook Salmon Sonar Enumeration on the ...

Assessing the Limits to Production of Juvenile Canadian-origin Yukon River Chinook Over-wintering Habitat

The productivity of Chinook salmon in the Yukon River has decreased from as many as 5 recruits per spawner in the 1980s to 1 or fewer less recruit per spawner today. This decrease has severely impacted the size of salmon runs and the people who depend on salmon for sustenance, cultural identity, and making ends meet. As managers, scientists, tribes, governments, and communities look at what can be done to improve the runs of Chinook salmon in the Yukon River, it will be important to understand the limits to production in freshwater so that restoration activities are as impactful as possible.

This project aims to describe limits to production in freshwater with the aim of informing both stock and habitat restoration activities. The work involves the assessment of over-wintering habitat of juvenile Canadian-origin Chinook salmon in the Yukon River, first through the delineation of over-wintering populations of Chinook salmon; and second, through the characterization of this habitat.

The results of this project will be a characterization of the differences in habitat use by juvenile Chinook across the first year of life (post emergence) in one system in the Yukon River.

Though carried out in a particular geographic area, the results of this project can help guide the quantification of over-wintering habitat across a larger geographic scale and can help evaluate the role of over-wintering habitat in limiting productivity.

CRE-99-17 Overwintering Final Report

CRE-99-16N Assessing the Limits to Production of J...

Blind Creek Chinook Salmon Enumeration Weir

Blind Creek is a significant Chinook salmon spawning stream flowing into the Pelly River, approximately 10 km southeast of the Town of Faro. Since 1995, a weir has been operated here annually (with the exception of 2001 and 2002) to enumerate Chinook salmon returns. Each season, a weir is installed and operated at the same location to enumerate Chinook salmon escapement and to conduct live sampling to obtain biological information from the stock. The weir project also provides a salmon viewing opportunity and on-site interpretation of the salmon resource and management programs for local residents and visitors. The goals of the project are: a) to provide a long term data set of information on a Chinook spawning population in the proposed Pelly River Conservation Unit and b) to increase public awareness of salmon management programs and conservation. This project will build on the information obtained from the 2003 to 2015 Blind Creek weir projects.

CRE-37-18. 2018 Blind Creek Chinook Salmon Enumera...

CRE-37-17 Blind Creek Final Report 2017

CRE-37-16 Blind Creek Chinook Enumeration Weir

CRE-37-15 Blind Creek Chinook Salmon Enumeration W...

CRE-37-14 Blind Creek Chinook Salmon Enumeration W...

CRE-37-13 Blind Creek Chinook Salmon Enumeration W...

CRE-37-12 Blind Creek Chinook Salmon Enumeration W...

CRE-37-11 Blind Creek Weir

Genetic Stock Identification of Canadian-origin Yukon River Chinook and Chum Salmon

This project, which has been running since 2002, describes the stock composition of chum and Chinook salmon returning up the Yukon River to Canada. It estimates what proportion of these fish return to each of the genetically-identifiable stocks (by natal stream). Though monitoring of the aggregate is practical and the basis for much of the management, it is equally important to understand status and trends at the population level. Given the size of the Yukon River watershed and the climatic variation found within it, salmon populations within the watershed may experience significant differences.

The effectiveness of this project is closely tied to the development and refinement of the genetic baseline and the number of samples obtained from the Eagle Sonar Site. As more genetic samples are collected and analyzed from Eagle, the sampling error decreases and the estimates of stock compositions are made more reliable. There are two principal uses of the GSI information collected. The first is in assessing how genetic information compares to traditional stock assessment information. Fishery managers often rely on index stocks to understand both status and trends in particular populations or stocks, and for Yukon River salmon, many terminal escapement assessments are carried out each year (e.g., using sonars, aerial surveys, and counting weirs), which can be costly and logistically challenging, and typically assess only one population at a time. When combined with sonar counts, genetic proportion estimates can be expanded to provide escapement estimates for particular populations. The second is that the information in aggregate can be used to estimate the productivity of each population of Canadian-origin salmon. This type of information is critical to local management planning and is of great interest to First Nation governments and communities as they seek greater information on the fish that return to their traditional territory. Projects focused on stock restoration also need to understand which stocks are currently highly productive and which are not.

CRE-79-17 Genetic Stock Identification of Canadian...

CRE-79-16 Genetic Stock Identification of Canadian...

CRE-79-15 Yukon River Salmon Stock Identification....

CRE-79-14 Yukon River Salmon Stock Identification

CRE-79-13 Yukon River Salmon Stock Identification

CRE-79-12 Stock Identification of Yukon River Chin...

CRE-79-11 Stock Identification of Yukon River Chin...

CRE-79-10 Stock Identification of Yukon River Chin...

CRE-79-09 Stock ID Microsatellite Variation-Chinoo...

CRE-79-08 Yukon Chinook and Chum Stock ID Report

CRE-79-07 Stock Identificaiton of Yukon River Chin...

CRE-79-06 Stock ID Microsatellite Variation – Ch...

CRE-79-05 Stock Identification of Yukon River Chin...

CRE-79-04-Stock Identification of Yukon River Chum...

CRE-79-03 Stock Identification of Yukon River Chum...

CRE-79-02 Stock Identification of Yukon River Chum...

 

 

Fishing Branch River Chum Habitat Assessment

The Fishing Branch River is a major spawning destination for Porcupine River chum salmon. Past R&E work has indicated that in excess of 65% of chum salmon in the upper Porcupine River have been known to spawn in the upper reaches of the river, above the site of the DFO enumeration weir. The 2011 Integrated Fisheries Management Plan developed by DFO and the Yukon River Panel included an escapement goal of 20,000 to 49,000 chum salmon at the Fishing Branch weir. However, since 2006, counts at the weir have been displaying a downward trend and fallen within the lower end of, or below this range during the last several years. In addition, recent chum salmon returns at the Fishing Branch weir have been lower relative to Yukon River border escapement than historical returns, despite active in-season harvest management.

The overall objective of this project is to collect baseline information on chum salmon spawning ecology in the Fishing Branch which may help to explain the decline in the stock and/or inform potential restoration activities for chum in the watershed.

CRE-22-17. Fishing Branch River Chum Habitat 2017/...

CRE-22-16 Fishing Branch River Chum Habitat 2016/2...

CRE-22-15 Fishing Branch Chum Habitat Assessments ...

CRE-22-13N Fishing Branch River Chum Salmon Habita...

 

 

Porcupine River Chum Salmon Restoration Incubation and Rearing Pilot Project

The Fishing Branch River is a historically and culturally rich area considered sacred to the Vuntuut Gwitch’in people. The area is also recognized as the principle spawning area for Canadian-origin chum salmon within the Porcupine River watershed. Fisheries and Oceans Canada has operated a chum salmon enumeration weir on the Fishing Branch River from 1971 to 2012 and again in 2015. The abundance of Chum salmon, based on counts at the Fishing Branch weir, has steadily declined since 2006 and has consistently failed to meet the lower end (and now below) the interim escapement goal of 22,000 to 49,000.

In 2013, the Vuntut Gwitch’in Government (VGG) undertook habitat assessment investigations in an effort to better understand potential limits to chum salmon production in the Fishing Branch River. Habitat conditions for chum salmon spawning and egg incubation were evaluated in a study area approximately 5 km downstream of the weir to the upstream end of the continuous wetted river channel, and it was concluded that the current fish habitat, hydrologic and geomorphological conditions in the Fishing Branch River study area were well suited to successful chum salmon spawning, egg incubation and rearing of fry. Furthermore, none of the parameters evaluated indicate that changes to habitat in the Fishing Branch River study area can be attributed to the decline in the abundance of chum salmon, as compared to past observations at the Fishing Branch weir site.

In consideration of the cultural importance – both as a food source and as a component of a traditional lifestyle – of chum salmon to Vuntut Gwitch’in citizens, and in light of current Yukon River Panel Near Term Restoration Priorities, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and VGG are partnering to build on the Fishing Branch River assessment work to date in furthering investigations to identify limits to productivity while also exploring potential stock restoration strategies.

The long term goal of the project is to contribute to the growing body of work on Porcupine River origin chum salmon through a mark/recovery program to better understand factors contributing to the downward trend in stock abundance while maintaining a wild spawning population in the Fishing Branch River – an area generally well suited for spawning, successful incubation/overwintering, alevin development and fry rearing.

The short term goal is to implement a trial egg take /incubation/rearing program to raise and mark 20,000 Porcupine chum salmon fry for outplant and subsequent monitoring and assessment.