Category: 2012

2012 Fund Project

Teslin River Sonar Project – Community Communication and Project Presentation

Brian Mercer and Associates, in possible cooperation with the Teslin Tlingit Council (TTC), will conduct an outreach and communication project in Teslin Yukon. The targeted audience for this project are community members interested in the biology, conservation and management of Teslin River Chinook salmon.

A Power Point presentation on the set up, operation and results of the Teslin River Sonar Project will be prepared and presented in the Teslin community by Brian Mercer. The methods and results of the Teslin River sonar project will be presented in the context of the overall biology, conservation, utilization and management of the Teslin River Chinook stocks. An attempt will be made to construct the Power Point presentation in a format that could be used in a classroom.


Temperature Monitoring of Alaskan and Canadian Yukon Tributaries

This project aims to build from work conducted in 2010 and 2011 supported by the R&E Fund. We plan to continue monitoring the temperature of 10 sites established in 2011 and will add six new sites in 2012. At each monitoring site, data loggers will be installed and calibrated following a standardized protocol (see Dunham et al. 2005; von Finster 2010). Each site will have two HOBO Pro v2 water temperature data loggers and two iButtons deployed in order to assure redundancy of equipment and protect against data loss. We will also evaluate the difference between logger types for potential cost savings in long term monitoring. Each data logger will be programmed to record water temperature hourly (on the hour), 24 hours per day, seven days per week, from the time of deployment until retrieval. Data loggers will be in place in most sites from May until September, but may be removed earlier if projects end for the season. All data will be entered into the publicly accessible database Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) constructed in 2010, with the potential to use any observed temperature data in future analyses for Yukon salmon management.

Water temperature has been shown to influence adult spawning success, egg survival, and post-hatchling developmental processes (Geist et al. 2006). Because of temperature’s importance to salmon survival and development coupled with effects of climate change, there is a need to develop a standardized water temperature monitoring program throughout the Yukon River Basin region. Although water temperature is already measured for several escapement monitoring sites through Alaska and the Yukon Territory, much of the available temperature data is not comparable statistically due to inconsistent sampling protocols (e.g. time series do not overlap, differing equipment).

Little Salmon River Chinook Salmon Escapement Survey

Chinook salmon provide for important aboriginal, subsistence, personal use, commercial, and sport fisheries throughout the entire Yukon River drainage, as summarized in the most recently published yearly management reports (Bue et al. 2011) and U.S./Canada Joint Technical Committee reports (JTC 2011). G.Sandone Consulting, LLC, in cooperation with the Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation, and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Canada will sample spawned out, predominantly live Chinook salmon within the Little Salmon River drainage, Yukon, Canada, to estimate the age, sex, length (ASL) of the spawning population within that drainage. The Little Salmon is a tributary to the Yukon River with the confluence with the Yukon River near the village of Carmacks, Yukon.





Mountain Village Cooperative Chinook Salmon Drift Test Fishery Outreach and Communication Project

Yukon Delta Fisheries Development Association  in cooperation with Asacarsarmiut Tribal Council (ATC) and ADF&G will conduct an outreach and education project in Mountain Village, Alaska. The targeted audience for this outreach and education project are the elementary and high school students that attend school in Mountain Village.

Presentations regarding Chinook salmon biology, conservation, and the Mountain Village Chinook salmon test fishery will be made by Gene Sandone, representing YDFDA, (and possibly ADF&G staff) to school children during one or two days in September 2012. After the presentation, the students will be invited to participate in a contest that would require them to relay either what they know or have learned about Yukon River Chinook salmon biology, conservation, and/or the Mountain Village Chinook salmon test fishery in art form for elementary school students and in an essay for high school students. Prizes for the contest winners in each school category will be provided by YDFDA.

The art work from the elementary school students will be provided to ADF&G and USFWS for possible display on Yukon Area subsistence calendars, or submitted as entries for the contest for the cover of ADF&G and USGWS regulation booklets.



Mountain Village Cooperative Chinook Salmon Drift Test Fishery Project

Yukon Delta Fisheries Development Association, in cooperation with Asacarsarmiut Tribal Council (ATC) and ADF&G will conduct a Chinook salmon test fishery project along the north bank of the Yukon River near the village of Mountain Village, Alaska.  This project (MVTF) was successfully conducted during the 2010 (Sandone 2011)  and 2011(Sandone in prep) seasons.  This project is strategically located between two ADF&G assessment projects that are separated by over 100 river miles and 3 Chinook salmon travel days.  Data from this project, in conjunction with the Lower Yukon Test Fish (LYTF) catch per unit effort (CPUE) information and the Pilot Station sonar counts attributed to Chinook salmon, will allow a comparative and also a more accurate assessment of the inseason Chinook salmon run strength and run timing.  This project will also provide additional insight into the expected Chinook salmon run strength at the Pilot Station sonar site and possibly be the only reliable assessment project in the lower river when high water, turbidity, and high debris load compromises the LYTF and sonar project efforts. Age, sex, size information will provide insight into the characteristics of the run and the Lower River harvests and to a lesser extent, the run. A genetic tissue sample, collected from all Chinook salmon captured, may aid in determination of the stock-specific nature of the run.  All fish retained will be distributed to village residents for subsistence purposes.

Chinook Subsistence Sampling Outreach Program

The Yukon River is home to many native village communities which depend on subsistence harvest for livelihood. This project involves contacting local Tribal Councils in these respective communities to ask for their assistance with recruiting local fisherman to collect a sample size of 250-300, taken in the proportion to the actual harvest for each village. The data that will be collected from the Yukon River Chinook Salmon Subsistence Harvest Sampling project will provide post-season genetic stock identification and information on biological composition of subsistence-harvested Chinook salmon from lower, middle and upper river villages on the Yukon River. Research data collected through this project will contribute to the existing ASL database, emphasizing the total characterization of the Yukon Chinook salmon run.
Results of this project are not only important to state and federal Yukon River fisheries managers, but are also important to the communities along the Yukon River who have assisted in the collection of the samples.


Science and Salmon Education Outreach Series

Creating a more knowledgeable public enables and engages stakeholders in discussions about environmental and resource issues. However, there is a challenge in communicating often complex scientific topics to community members with little science background in an accessible and easily understood way. This project sought to develop a science education outreach program for K-12 groups in the Alaska portion of the Yukon River. This workshop built on a previous workshop to Yukon River fishermen, covering factors that impact different life history stages of Pacific salmon and the challenges of managing a complex fishery. Future lessons would cover other topics related to fish biology, habitat ecology, current scientific research, and scientific methodology of Yukon River research projects.

Professional Development for K-12 Educators to Support Yukon River Salmon Stewardship in Rural Alaska

This proposal is a request for support for a four-day professional development teacher workshop to be held in Fairbanks, Alaska, in fall, 2012, for approximately nineteen rural educators representing communities with strong cultural, economic, and ecological ties to Yukon River salmon. The workshop is the centerpiece of a year-long Yukon River salmon education program supported by the project partners: University of Alaska Fairbanks Alaska Sea Grant (UAF ASG), UAF Cooperative Extension (CE), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG). The Salmon-in-the-Classroom program for rural Alaska schools is a continuation of the Alaska 4-H Natural Resource and Youth Development Program (NRYD) which has been highly successful in serving the needs of youth from rural communities across the state since 1991.

Originally developed to provide fisheries education to youth in eight communities impacted by declining salmon returns on the Yukon River, it has grown to include more than 80 rural communities throughout Alaska, including many in the Yukon River Drainage.  The annual professional development workshop provides an important opportunity for isolated teachers to network and mentor with other educators from similar school and community settings, along with having direct access to scientists and researchers. Participating teachers use the materials and training provided to create a salmon education program throughout the school year that integrates watershed monitoring, salmon biology, traditional science, subsistence, and fisheries management and allocation issues into the classroom curriculum. Students learn the importance of preserving spawning and rearing habitat, and migration corridors for salmon. This helps both students and their families to become stewards of their fishery resources. The greatest impacts of the program are realized through high quality professional development opportunities focused on salmon as a resource of cultural, economic, and ecological relevance; a basis for place-based teaching methods and resources integrating Traditional Knowledge; and a vehicle for increasing math and science literacy and positive development in rural youth.


Collection and Comparison of Chinook Salmon Age, Length, Sex and Genetic Data Using a Fish Wheel

There has been a recent shift from mark-recapture to sonar to estimate Canadian border escapement. Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans biologists found that the Eagle test fishery (gillnet) age composition is significantly different from that estimated from mark-recapture (fish wheel) such that the two data sets are not comparable. This finding highlights the need to 1) develop a Gold Standard for monitoring the age composition of the escapement and 2) to develop a conversion factor such that past and future age data are consistent and comparable through time. These data have implications for the development of brood tables and run size projections.

There are now three years of paired data when both test fishery and fish wheel are operated. The development of a conversion factor and the determination of appropriate sampling methods would be improved with additional years of paired data. This project would allow the comparison of historically operated fish wheel sampling data with sonar test fishing data and other concurrent sampling programs to help determine the relationship between sample composition and run composition. This will also help determine which sampling programs will be most useful in characterizing the ASL and genetic composition of Canadian-origin fish. Due to biases associated with nets, fishwheels, and other sample methods, its desirable to compare test fishery (gillnet) data collected at Eagle with fishwheels, carcass sampling and weir data. It is anticipated that this program will be used to work out potential sources of gear bias as well as assist with the finalization of previous run reconstruction tables which are based on ASL data to make the data set consistent through time. This program will also allow the comparison of ASL composition of past runs to the run composition with the mesh size restrictions.


Salmon Run Health/Fishing Restrictions Sandwich Board

Attaching signage to significant traffic areas will inform the public of the salmon crisis. The signs will consist of a sandwich board style sign located at Teslin and one mounted sign at Johnson’s Crossing on the Alaska Highway. Both signs will have a color gradient indicating Chinook salmon run numbers. A moveable salmon cut-out on a slider will indicate the Chinook salmon population estimate for the year. The fishing guidelines and any Teslin Tlingit Council (TTC) resolutions pertaining to the salmon will also be posted underneath a Plexiglas covering.

Informing TTC citizens of changes to their regulations based on the current salmon populations allows citizens to take an interest in salmon management. If misinformation about salmon regulations makes its way into the community the public will be informed enough to counter it with the current regulations. They can use the sign to validate their information or they can send the individuals to the Department of Lands and Resources (this will also be highlighted on the sign). TTC citizens would be more likely to fish during the allotted times if properly informed by these signs. In the rare case that an individual chooses not to follow these regulations, those individuals will be known to be working against the TTC resolutions and the educated public will be able to voice their concerns to these people confident in their understanding of the current restrictions.