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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
First Fish Camp is hosted by Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in for youth and families. It is a way for people to learn about the heritage and traditions of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, as well as the importance of the river and modern day environmental pressures on this important part of the culture. It is an opportunity for the community to have fellowship with one another; families, youth and Elders.
An educational exchange is a powerful, intensive approach to transferring knowledge and transforming perceptions. Participants have the opportunity to witness, question, and interact with the subject matter first hand, which can foster much deeper understanding than other forms of communication typically provide. As such, the Yukon River Educational Exchange Program is a sound way for fishers and other fisheries stakeholders from the U.S. and Canada to come together to learn about the international agreement, to appreciate the different salmon resource users, and to increase awareness of fishery-related issues.
U.S. and Canadian users of the salmon resource are participants in a world of interdependence. Understanding differences in culture, lifestyle, and opinion proves to strengthen one’s ability to think and act on a cooperative basis. Therefore, a key priority of this project is to enhance contact between upriver and downriver fishers, as one becomes the exchange participant and the other the host community member.
Participants in the Yukon River Educational Exchange are challenged to learn by pursuing issues of interest and concern, to research through observation and personal experience, and to document their experience for further transfer of knowledge with their home communities. The exchange also takes advantage of the participants’ differences in age, motivation, cultural background, and past fisheries experience. The most effective exchange experience requires participants be immersed in the host community to develop and nurture a holistic and mutual view of life on the Yukon River.
The Kwanlin Dün First Nation is keeping an eye on chinook salmon at the spawning grounds: A place where a 3,000km migration begins and ends.Philippe Morin visited the First Nation's salmon monitoring program on the McClintock river.
Michie Creek is a tributary of the M’Clintock River. It is estimated that roughly 35% of the Chinook Salmon that travel through the Whitehorse Fish Ladder end their journey at Michie Creek to spawn.
The Michie Creek spawning population represents one of the longest migrations of Chinook salmon in the Yukon Drainage Basin – over 3,000 kms and, it is upstream of the Whitehorse Rapids Dam. It is also a fish stock subject to the greatest risk of overharvest because it migrates through fisheries on both sides of the Canada/ U.S. border.
The Michie Creek Salmon and Habitat Monitoring Project maintains continued access for migrating Chinook to reach its primary spawning location on upper Michie Creek at the outlet of Michie Lake. For over a decade, many barriers had to be breached such as beaver dams and logjams for migrating salmon to reach their spawning grounds.
The spawning population is monitored each year by counting redds (salmon nests) and the number of adult spawners present at the site.
Hourly temperature and flow data have also been collected over the summer months for the duration of the project. This database represents one of the only Chinook spawning locations in the Yukon where this data has been documented over the long-term.