The Alaska subsistence harvest of Yukon River Chinook salmon averages about 50,000 fish per year, of which about 30% is from Districts 1 and 2. Stock composition of this component of the run is unique compared to other components because of differences in harvest timing, location, and gear, and there is a tendency towards high occurrence of Canadian origin fish. Our goal, in collaboration with Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G), is to collect information about the composition of this component of the run to enable estimates of total run composition by stock, stock-specific exploitation, and spawner-recruit analysis, among other uses.
The objective specific to this proposal is to collect representative genetics stock identification (GSI) information, coupled with age, sex, length (ASL) data, from the Chinook salmon subsistence harvest in Districts 1 and 2 in support of estimating the 2013 harvest composition. Deliverables will be raw data and samples provided to ADF&G to enable them, independent of this project, to estimate ASL and stock composition of the subsistence Chinook salmon harvests from District 1 and 2. The relevance of the resulting database is that it contributes to initiatives aimed at reconstructing the ASL and stock composition of the total Yukon River Chinook salmon run, and to understanding the effects of management actions and fishing techniques on harvest composition.
Yukon Fish and Game Association (YF&G) will mark all of the Whitehorse Rapids Fish Hatchery juvenile Chinook to be released in the spring. This tagging project is completed to identify hatchery and wild Chinook salmon in subsequent broodstock collection, escapement composition to the fishway and other annual identification activities including marine and freshwater sampling projects. Fry will be adipose fin clipped and tagged with coded wire tags. The fry will be released into the Upper Yukon River drainage above the Whitehorse Rapids Dam in locations specified in the transplant license approved by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The fry releases will involve the helicopter transport of the fry destined for Michie Creek and the M’Clintock River and boat or helicopter transport of fry released in the mainstem Yukon River. YF&G will prepare a report summarizing the project. This will maintain a long standing effort to provide a means to identify hatchery origin Chinook salmon in the Yukon River drainage.
The goal of our program is to build TKC member and staff capacity with regards to salmon related technical work, while implementing/maintaining several TKC salmon initiatives. Our proposal will consist of hiring one Steward (technician) who will conduct a variety of monitoring and assessment activities related to Chinook salmon stocks and habitat in the TKC Traditional Territory along with the Fish and Wildlife Steward.
The restoration of Chinook salmon to Fox Creek, apart from the obvious merits of this project, raises the profile of First Nation and citizen involvement in salmon restoration and management. Coupled with public outreach projects such as the involvement of the Stewards with Summer Culture Camp, and Family Fish Camp (CRE-128-13) will provide opportunity to the proposed activity of collecting ASL data from TKC citizens, this project works to build trust and communication between the TKC government and its citizens, and encourages citizen participation in Chinook salmon management initiatives, including in-season harvest estimates.
The data collected through the TKC Community Stewardship Program is publically accessible and may contribute to future management decisions. Furthermore, as the project develops the type and quality of data collected continues to increase and improve. TKC now owns a significant amount of required sampling equipment and is involved in a number of ecological assessment and monitoring projects throughout the Traditional Territory.
This project will make funds available to classes at Yukon schools involved with the “Stream to Sea” studies to help enable them to participate in field trips. Students will participate in habitat studies at various Yukon creeks, guided by teachers and other facilitators with fisheries experience. Some classes will be given the opportunity to release salmon back to their natal streams in the spring. Some classes will have the opportunity to observe salmon spawning when they collect their own chum eggs for classroom incubation in October. Exposing students to the natural habitat of the salmon they have studied and nurtured, and exposing students to aquatic habitats in general, will help to foster a stewardship ethic. The field trips will also help students to understand the scientific concepts that they have been taught in the classroom.
The goal of this program is to improve public awareness of fishing conditions and to foster community support for the management of Yukon River salmon. This is done on a weekly basis through the hosting of in-season salmon management teleconferences during the fishing season. The program has run consistently for the past 12 years, funded by the Yukon River Panel and the Fisheries Resource Monitoring Program. Participants on the call include Yukon River fishermen, community harvest surveyors, Tribal councils, First Nations, policy makers, non-governmental organizations and state and federal resource managers. The content of the call includes updates and reports from villages on fishing activities and environmental conditions as well as management reports on their fisheries assessments and strategies. Open discussion and question and answer periods take place following the reports. The calls are focused on in-season management and there are numerous questions posed from the fishermen to the managers. In recent years, with low Chinook salmon runs, it is critical to have this open dialogue that enables management to share weekly data on run counts, timing, gear restrictions etc. and for managers to hear from fishermen on their reports of what they are harvesting and seeing in the river. Management is complex and new fishing gear and many openings and closings in the different fishing districts have become common. This dialogue helps build community support because it is an open forum where the public gets to interact directly with resource managers and hear rationale for management decision-making. While not everyone agrees on fisheries management strategies this open forum helps to build an open dialogue and working relationship. It is also a place for fishermen to share their concerns directly with managers and they can ask for changes in fishing gear or hours of time allowed to fish. Outcomes from this program have included the development of a cadre of people from the Yukon River that communicate on a weekly basis about the Yukon River salmon runs, in-season, many of which are different than those that participate in other annual forums. The calls are a reliable, affordable and effective in-season communication that should continue in order to offer an opportunity for people from the Yukon River to participate in fisheries management discussions about the conservative management actions taking place in recent years. People who participate on the call are local leaders in various ways and they share the information on the calls with other community members. They also share their community concerns on the call thus actings as community liaisons during the fishing season. This is extremely helpful as the management agencies are only based in two locations during the fishing season and have limited time and ability to travel out to each and every community to meet firsthand with fishing families.
A genetics-based analysis can be used to identify to what river system, drainage, or sub-drainage a salmon is returning, long before the salmon actually reaches its spawning grounds. This type of analysis is generally referred to as genetic stock identification (GSI) and is used in both research and management. In the Yukon River, it is used to identify the stock of origin of salmon caught in commercial, subsistence, and test fisheries (e.g., Pilot Station or Eagle Sonar). This information on stock composition is used by fisheries managers to make in-season decisions and to reconstruct the run at the end of the season. It can also be used to understand where a juvenile salmon is from; this is particularly useful given that many juvenile salmon do not rear in their natal streams.
All of this analysis and its resultant information hinges on having a representative genetic baseline. This project aims to ensure that the genetic baseline used by researchers and managers is representative of Canadian-origin salmon. A good portion of the genetic baseline already exists thanks to the work on this project that has already taken place. The aim of this project is to gather genetic baseline samples from those areas and stocks that are currently un-represented or under-represented and, in this way, improve the accuracy of all the estimates developed using GSI. Canadian sampling efforts are focused on filling the baseline gaps by collecting tissues from poorly represented Canadian tributaries.
After a returning salmon leaves the marine environment, water temperatures largely determine its ability to migrate and spawn successfully. The goal of this project is to develop a publicly accessible baseline of the thermal regimes of Yukon River Chinook Salmon spawning and migration habitats in Canada.
The Yukon River Canadian Water Temperature Monitoring Network (the Network) was initiated during the 2011 – 2012 ADF&G water temperature project, and is continued by a Canadian Consultant to the present. The Network currently comprises 15 Stations, and data collection is conducted in watercourses utilized by Chinook Salmon for adult migration and spawning, as well as juvenile incubation, rearing, overwintering and downstream migration. Design of the Network includes both geographical and temporal components. Data from temperature data loggers at each station are downloaded, checked and used to generate mean, minimum and maximum daily temperatures, and this data set is uploaded to yukonwatertemperatures.info.
The primary rationale for the project continuing is that it extends the temporal length of the baseline. This allows more complete consideration of the inter-annual range of temperatures that may be expected, and strengthens the baseline for future salmon fishery and habitat managers to determine temperature trends and effects thereof. The secondary rationale is the public nature of the project, with data being widely and freely distributed. This enables access to the data by agency and non-agency persons, and reduces the risk that data – and the investment in collecting it – will be lost due to personnel changes, government reorganizations or simple neglect.
Our goal is the development and maintenance of community capacity in the Dawson City region to protect, maintain and restore salmon stocks and habitats. Each year, two local high school students who have not participated in the project in past years are hired as Student Stewards. They work under the field supervision of an experienced elder and the technical guidance of a retired DFO biologist, and are provided with a wide range of hands-on training through participation in a variety of salmon and salmon habitat management and research activities. Proposed activities include the monitoring of 0+ Chinook salmon growth and habitat utilisation, ground water fed rearing channel habitat monitoring, riparian restoration principles, and ground truthing of placer maps. Depending on environmental conditions, 0+ Chinook fry salvage and access restoration may take place, and we may partner with DFO as we have in the past to conduct genetic analysis on some 0+ Chinook. The context of any activities undertaken will be explained to the Student Stewards so that they are given an opportunity not only to understand what they are doing, but why they are doing it.
At the end of the funded field work component of the project, the Student Stewards will demonstrate their acquired skills and knowledge to children and community members in a Public Involvement Day. Opportunities will be sought to increase the exposure of the project through the local media and in presentations to the public.
Tanks for all the fish
A lot more Chinook salmon will soon be raised at the McIntyre Creek Salmon Incubation Facility. The Whitehorse hatchery has seen $60,000 in upgrades as well as a new tank design which more closely mimics nature. Philippe Morin took a tour.More: www.cbc.ca/1.3633022
Posted by CBC Yukon on Monday, June 13, 2016
Video Source: CBC
The McIntyre Creek Salmon Incubation Project (MCSIP) is a groundwater sourced, gravity-fed salmon incubation facility capable of rearing fish from egg-take through to tagged and release-ready stage. The facility has functioned for nearly 20 years, collecting salmon broodstock from the wild, fertilizating and incubating eggs, rearing and feeding juveniles, adipose fin clipping and inserting coded-wire tags (CWTs) in preparation for release into the wild. In previous years MCSIP has focused on enhancement and fostering of stewardship through the rearing and release of Yukon River Chinook salmon juveniles back into natal streams, as well as stock restoration of depopulated streams undergoing stock restoration. For example, Whitehorse Rapids Fishway eggs have primarily been used to re-stock Fox Creek as part of Ta’an Kwäch’än First Nation’s (TKFN) Fox Creek Salmon Stock Restoration Project. MCSIP provides facilities for the initial incubation of small numbers of other salmon eggs which are destined for classroom incubation projects as part of the Stream to Sea Program, and has served as a test site to refine the use of heath stack incubators and thermal marking units, which have been developed at the site.
MCSIP was initially founded as a stewardship and enhancement project, and continues to be a significant resource for Yukon River salmon. MCSIP focuses on two main target groups within the larger community; first nations interested in stock restoration of depopulated chinook salmon streams (e.g. TKFN), and students. Both elementary and Yukon College students use MCSIP as part of their educational experience. Renewable Resources Management 134: Introduction to Salmon Hatcheries and Related Fisheries Practices is a course developed with and for MCSIP. Yukon College students also provide paid labor and management of the day-to-day operation of the hatchery during the school year, providing even more practical training and responsibility. This hands-on experience has proven very valuable for student’s ongoing education and work careers.
An understanding of the total harvest of both U.S. and Canadian-origin Yukon River Chinook salmon is necessary in order to address harvest sharing objectives outlined in the Pacific Salmon Treaty. Important subsistence fisheries occur in Alaska across six distinct fishery management districts on the Yukon River, and stock composition of the subsistence harvest varies among these districts because of differences in harvest timing, location, and gear used.
Complete information on these harvests is critical for creating Canadian-origin Chinook salmon brood year tables and run reconstructions, which form the basis of the spawner-recruit models used to estimate past and future run productivity and help establish escapement goals for Canadian-origin Chinook salmon. These data also help managers understand the effects of management actions and fishing gear on harvest composition. The objective of this proposal is to collect representative genetic stock identification information, coupled with age, sex, and length data, from the Chinook salmon subsistence harvest in Districts 1 through 5.
This project began in 2009 at the Tanana Chiefs Conference, and has been funded by the Yukon River Panel Restoration & Enhancement Fund since 2012. As in previous programs, sampling will be done by local community members under the supervision of biologists and in accordance with ADF&G sampling protocols. Participants will be paid for the samples they collect in order to encourage participation in the program. ADF&G will receive the raw data and estimate age, sex, length and stock composition of the subsistence Chinook salmon harvests from Districts 1-5. A brood table will be published annually for the Joint Technical Committee, and a separate report will be provided that documents the data collection, harvest composition, and comparisons to historical patterns.