Common Property: Summer Chum

15
Aug

15 August 2016, SSRAA Chum Common Property Update: 

Though a few late fish will be caught here and there in southern SE, the SSRAA summer chum return is over for 2016. This is the last summer chum update before we tighten up the numbers in post season.

The two things that most characterized this return were the pattern of the return and the size of the fish.  The run started early and there was no classic peak to the return in most of the terminal areas.  The size:  the fish were considerably smaller than usual.  The overall average weight of a summer chum taken in cost recovery in Neets Bay will be 8.5 pounds.  These fish generally weigh 10 pounds plus or minus a little.  The current daily average weight at Neets Bay is 6.5 pounds, the smallest daily average in our recollection.

The return numbers were close to what was anticipated (current): Kendrick 81.4%, Nakat 83%, Neets 95%, and Anita 124% of forecast.  What was not close was the anticipated weight of harvest.  The actual weight was about 17% less (8.5 pounds) than what was assumed (10 pounds).  Actual final fish numbers will be greater than those represented by the %’ages above.  The reason is that most fish tickets use a long term average weight, for instance 10 pounds, to determine fish numbers from the fish weights listed on fish tickets.  This average used was generally too large, making the number of fish listed on the ticket too small.  This doesn’t impact anything except our assessment of survival and future forecasting.  We will adjust these numbers related to the weight sampling we have done.

We have seen a few fall chums in D101 drift fisheries and D101 and D102 seine fisheries.  These have just been the odd early fall chum, it is a little early to expect a substantive number of these fish.

Many of you reading this may not know that the Department stopped sampling chum salmon catches some years ago.  SSRAA currently samples Ketchikan and Wrangell processors daily seven days a week and collects thermal tags (otoliths) as well as size and male/female ratio information.  SSRAA also processes the otoliths and reads the tags.  The information is provided to ADF&G managers in real time…within the week harvest occurs.

Southern SE summer Chum Harvest 2016 August 15

 

8 August 2016, SSRAA Chum Common Property Update:
As we noted last week, and nothing has changed our perspective, the SSRAA summer chum returns almost always fit a general pattern related to abundance and the calendar. This one has not. They are also considerably smaller than we can recall, with a daily average now of about 7 pounds , or slightly less; guessing the overall average will be a little over 8 pounds plus or minus. The usual average weight of a SSRAA summer chum is about 10 pounds.
These fish are still being harvested from each of the releases, but returns from the more outside releases at Nakat and Kendrick are sparse with an occasional curve ball. Though the harvest was not particularly large, more Kendrick fish were harvested last week (stat 32) than the previous week. Though a handful of the fish are still being caught, it looks as if the Nakat and Kendrick runs ended a little earlier than usual this year. Related to the forecasts, in terms of fish numbers it is likely each of the runs will reach forecast…in terms of the total weight of harvest, likely none of them will reach the anticipated harvest with the possible exception of Anita Bay.
Related to Neets Bay, there was no conspicuous peak of the return this year. It looks like the run has been more protracted over time without a conspicuous peak, unless it hasn’t yet appeared…which is even more unlikely with each passing day.
The short: last week there were still good numbers of Anita Bay fish being harvested in those fisheries near the terminal area. There are still fish available to chum troll in the outer portion of Neets Bay providing one of the few troll opportunities during the coho closure. And, Neets Bay fish are still being harvested in all the southern SE districts, though no longer in large numbers.
Fish size has an impact on harvest numbers reported by the department. Most, if not all, processors assume a fish size for use on fish tickets. Few processors sample extensively and change this size weekly, as it actually changes with the fish. All fishermen are paid by fish weight and the actual number of fish on a fish ticket is more or less incidental to the process. Many processors use 10 pounds as an average size for SSRAA summer chums, at least initially. The numbers they report on the fish tickets result from simply dividing the total weight sold by 10 pounds, or whatever weight they are using for the process. If the actual average weight of a chum is 8 pounds, the number of fish listed on the ticket will be 20% less than the actual number of fish. Because the fish are small this year, this error has occurred through the season. Actual fish numbers will be close to or exceed preseason forecasts, though the initial reported numbers may not give that impression. This does not affect anything except our assessments of survival and future forecasts. The missing piece in all of this is being able to forecast the annual average weight of the average fish. Currently, we have no way to do that.
Many of you reading this may not know that the Department stopped sampling chum salmon catches some years ago. SSRAA currently samples Ketchikan and Wrangell processors daily seven days a week and collects thermal tags (otoliths) as well as size and male/female ratio information. SSRAA also processes the otoliths and reads the tags. The information is provided to ADF&G managers in real time…within the week harvest occurs.

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1 August 2016, SSRAA Chum Common Property Update:
The 2016 harvest started quickly, faster than harvest began in 2015. But at this point in the season the 2015 run was stronger. The SSRAA summer chum returns almost always fit a general pattern related to abundance and the calendar. This one has not. The situation is compounded in that the fish have not been showy at all in the terminal areas. It isn’t possible to visually read the water and determine abundance. Personal communication with DIPAC suggests they had the same experience in cost recovery harvest in the terminal areas.
There are still some summer chum being harvested from each of the releases, but returns from the more outside releases at Nakat and Kendrick are very sparse now. It looks as if the run ended a little earlier than usual at those sites this year. Related to the forecast, Kendrick and Nakat are between 70% and 80% of what was forecast to return. These numbers may be adjusted later as the fish were smaller than the size assumed on the fish tickets, resulting in more fish, but the same total weight.
The returns to Neets Bay and Anita Bay will be close to what was forecast. While those returns are also on the back side of the peak, they are not as close to being done as Nakat and Kendrick. Related to Neets Bay, there was no conspicuous peak of the return this year. It looks like the run has been more protracted over time without a conspicuous peak, unless it hasn’t yet appeared…which is unlikely. The fish we are harvesting in cost recovery are still fresh with a lot of relatively bright fish included. These are summer chum four-year-olds. It almost looks as if there were several independent runs of the same brood year…maybe different groups of the fish experienced different ocean conditions. It was a very different from usual ocean while they were skirting the “blob”.
Talking to processors this morning, Monday 1 August, about 10% of the seine harvest on the south end is still chum salmon (Districts 1, 2, and 4). A decent part of this is still from Neets Bay…pretty much 4’s. This isn’t a large pulse of fish, but instead more a background presence. We think they will continue entering the SHA at Neets for at least another two weeks…more a small stream up to the barrier than coming in a larger pulse.
Gill net fisheries continue in District 1/Nakat, Districts 6, 8, and Anita Bay; currently there are still some summer chum being harvested, but more in 6, 8, and Anita than at Tree Point/Nakat. There is no “hot spot”.
The chum troll fishery in front of Neets Bay started early, though fishing was better than in the past several years, participation never reached the level seen in recent years…today there are only 2 boats fishing. Catching per boat remained better than last year through the entire period, as was the price; regardless participation is down likely because of good coho fishing elsewhere. The catch per day is still decent for those few boats fishing.
Harvest numbers on the graphics generally reflect harvest through stat week 31, while some data for stat 31 is yet to be included as samples are now being processed and have not been apportioned over catch. We will update the harvest assessment at the end of next week, stat week 32.
Cost recovery began on July 6th. The abundance in the terminal part of Neets Bay has steadily increased. Normally that abundance would have peaked in the past several days. We have not experienced a classic peak to this return, and at this point we don’t anticipate that happening. We have currently harvested about 50% of the cost recovery target. Broodstock collection has been underway for about two weeks and will continue for at least another week. There will be an increase in broodstock this year related to new production at Burnett Inlet and ultimately the Kendrick SHA. It is going to be difficult to take the intended number of eggs at Neets Bay, which may affect the way the SHA is managed through this period. In fact, we have slowed cost recovery harvest the past several days to focus more on brood collection. The fish continue to be fresher than usual and are not very interested in moving into fresh water/the raceways. It appears, like the return, the egg take will be more protracted than usual this year.
Many of you reading this may not know that the Department stopped sampling chum salmon catches some years ago. SSRAA currently samples Ketchikan and Wrangell processors daily seven days a week and collects thermal tags (otoliths) as well as size and male/female ratio information. SSRAA also processes the otoliths and reads the tags. The information is provided to ADF&G managers in real time…within the week harvest occurs.


24 July 2016, SSRAA Chum Common Property Update:
While the 2016 harvest had led the 2015 harvest through last week, at this point it has fallen slightly behind. There are still some chum being harvested from each of the releases, but returns from the more outside releases at Nakat and Kendrick seem to be nearly over. If that proves true, it has happened a little earlier than usual. If there are more fish somewhere, the current weather should help to get them home. Both these sites are between 65% and 70% of forecast at this point.
The more inside releases, Neets and Anita, may be just coming into their peak. We know of only one reliable objective measure of where you are in a run, male/female ratio. Historically we had direct access to each tender harvested in Neets Bay and did an intensive assessment of the male/female ratio on each of those boats. That is no longer the case; though we do have some of this information suggesting we are not yet at the peak of the return at Neets or Anita Bay.
The seine fishery on the south end continues to be more intense than the historic “usual”. This was also the case early in the 2015 season, prior to the pink salmon return. SSRAA chums are caught in Districts 101, 102, 104, and 107 as well as in the Kendrick and Anita Bay SHA’s. This year it looks like most of the fleet will remain on the south end as the pinks also seem to have chosen to primarily return to the south end.
Gill net fisheries continue in District 1/Nakat, Districts 6, 8, and Anita Bay; currently there doesn’t appear to be an obvious “hot spot”…most of these fisheries can be characterized as “scratch fishing” today.
The chum troll fishery in front of Neets Bay started early, though participation has not reached the level seen in recent years…about 20 to 25 boats at present. Catching per boat has been better than last year, as was the price; regardless participation is down likely because of good coho fishing elsewhere.
Harvest numbers on the graphics generally reflect harvest through stat week 30, while some data for stat 30 is yet to be included as samples are now being processed and have not been apportioned over catch. We will update the harvest assessment at the end of next week, stat week 31.
Cost recovery began on the 6th. The abundance in the terminal part of Neets Bay has steadily increased. We have currently harvested about 30% of the cost recovery target. Broodstock collection has been underway for about a week and will continue for at least several weeks. There will be an increase in broodstock this year related to new production at Burnett Inlet and ultimately the Kendrick SHA. It is going to be difficult to take the intended number of eggs at Neets Bay, which may affect the way the SHA is managed through this period. The peak of the return – peak abundance – in the inner SHA is generally from 27 July through about 7 August.
Many of you reading this may not know that the Department stopped sampling chum salmon catches some years ago. SSRAA currently samples Ketchikan and Wrangell processors daily seven days a week and collects thermal tags (otoliths) as well as size and male/female ratio information. SSRAA also processes the otoliths and reads the tags. The information is provided to ADF&G managers in real time…within the week harvest occurs.

 


18 July 2016, SSRAA Chum Common Property Update:
It is still the case that more SSRAA chums have been harvested at this date than were harvested at the same date last year; 2015 was a good return. The fish are being harvested by all three gear types in all the usual fisheries in southern SE. The more “outside” returns are probably on the far side of the curve while the inside returns (Neets and Anita) may be just entering the peak 10 days of the terminal return. While it is still the case that there are decent gill net opportunities elsewhere, there are few seine opportunities away from southern SE. The seine fishery on the south end continues to be more intense than the historic “usual”. This was also the case early in the 2015 season, prior to the pink salmon return. The chum troll fishery in front of Neets Bay started early, though participation has not reached the level seen in recent years…about 45 boats at present.
We are often asked to speculate about the strength of the return. As always, this is a cross between reading tea leaves, the strength of our most recent mocha, and a best guess. Right now it looks as if Nakat and Kendrick will be slightly below forecast…while the numbers at Anita and Neets look a little better than they were last year, maybe above forecast. All the forecasts were relatively good, though the forecasts for Kendrick and Nakat were for better survival rates than Neets and Anita. There is a chance the four groups will survive at rates that are more similar to one another than was the case in 2015. This is a good return, but it may be balanced differently between the different sites. And then, there are several weeks or more to go.
Harvest numbers on the graphics generally reflect harvest through stat week 29, while some data for stat 29 is yet to be included as samples are now being processed. We will update the harvest assessment at the end of next week, stat week 30.
Cost recovery began on the 6th. The abundance in the terminal part of Neets Bay has just increased over the past several days. We have currently harvested about 16% of the cost recovery target. Broodstock collection began this morning and will continue over the next 2 ½ to 3 weeks. There will be an increase in broodstock this year related to new production at Burnett Inlet and ultimately the Kendrick SHA. It is going to be difficult to take the intended number of eggs at Neets Bay this year, which may affect the way the SHA is managed through this period. The peak of the return – peak abundance – in the inner SHA is generally from 27 July through about 7 August.
Many of you reading this may not know that the Department stopped sampling chum salmon catches some years ago. SSRAA currently samples Ketchikan and Wrangell processors daily seven days a week and collects thermal tags (otoliths) as well as size and male/female ratio information. SSRAA also processes the otoliths and reads the tags. The information is provided to ADF&G managers in real time…within the week harvest occurs.

 


 9 July 2016, SSRAA Chum Common Property Update:
More SSRAA chums have been harvested at this date than were harvested at the same date last year, and 2015 was a good return. The fish are being harvested by all three gear types in all the usual fisheries in southern SE. While there are decent gill net opportunities elsewhere, currently there are few other seine opportunities. The seine fishery is more intense than the historic “usual”. This was also the case early in the 2015 season, though there were seine opportunities at Amalga last year. The return to Amalga will probably not support that this year. The chum troll fishery in front of Neets Bay started early, though currently the number of boats is not unusual for this date.
We are often asked to speculate about the strength of the return. While it is too early to have a good sense of what is coming; we feel positive about the return. We have not seen anything that would suggest the run is not going to occur at least as forecast (see SSRAA web page for forecast).
Fish size is an issue in Alaska this year as it was last year. At this point of the season SSRAA chums are slightly less than average size (about 9.7 pounds in the terminal fishery at Neets Bay). Southern SE chums are generally the largest chums in Alaska, for the past 20 years the average size (total run) has been between 8.4 and 12 pounds. Size varies annually because of ocean conditions, feed availability; and it also can vary with the percentage of fish returning in the different age groups. If the 5’s are strong, then the size can be larger; while if the 3-year-olds are strong the size can be smaller. This year’s run was forecast to be comprised primarily of 4’s, and that looks to be what is happening.
While numbers are not settled this early in the season, they are not far from what they will be when they settle. The following tables compare the 2015 and 2016 seasons at this date (through stat week 28):
All chum harvested in:
Fishery 2015 2016
D102 seine 225,321 348,796
D101 seine 157,000 25,456
Neets Bay SHA and chum troll 94,833 145,649
Tree Point/Nakat SHA 100,279 129,689
D106 33,000 20,297
D104 11,000 97,000
D108/Anita Bay SHA 11,000 10,919
Total chum harvest (through stat 28) 632,433 777,806

Harvest of SSRAA releases:
2015 2016
Kendrick 291,914 282,579
Neets 159,634 242,547
Nakat 116,341 87,705
Anita 36,116 44,118
Total SSRAA chum harvest to date 604,005 656,949
Harvest numbers on the graphics generally reflect harvest through stat week 28 (9 July). Some terminal harvest, in the SHA’s, is not yet included in the data.
We look forward to the seine openings in D101, D102 and D104 on Sunday. Harvest during this opening will provide more information about the strength of SSRAA summer chum as they are caught in each of those districts. We will update the harvest assessment at the end of next week, stat week 29.
Cost recovery began on the 6th. There are some fish in the inner bay, but not yet in large numbers – nor would large numbers be anticipated at this date. Abundance is noticeably increasing daily. The first broodstock sets will occur on about the 17th or 18th, depending on chum behavior. The peak of the return – peak abundance – in the inner SHA is generally from 27 July through about 7 August.
Many of you reading this may not know that the Department stopped sampling chum salmon catches some years ago. SSRAA currently samples Ketchikan and Wrangell processors daily seven days a week and collects thermal tags (otoliths) as well as size and male/female ratio information. SSRAA also processes the otoliths and reads the tags. The information is provided to ADF&G managers in real time…within the week harvest occurs.

 


4 July 2016, SSRAA Chum Common Property Update:
It is early in the season, which historically peaks for Kendrick and Nakat about three weeks from now. A greater than anticipated number of SSRAA chum are being harvested in Tree Point/Nakat drift fishery (about 70,000 fish to date), District 102/Kendrick seine (about 250,000 fish to date). These fish generally average more than 10 pounds early in the fishery; the corresponding weight is about 700,000 pounds from Tree Point/Nakat and more than 2.5 million pounds from D102 Kendrick. As is always the case there are a good number of Neets Bay fish harvested in these fisheries as well as some unmarked fish (some will have been from Metlakatla). There have been more than 100,000 chum harvested from the Neets SHA, which will come to a little more than 1 million pounds. As mentioned above, this is a larger harvest than the forecast would have suggested for this date. Historically, early fish have not meant a simple displacement of the forecast run to an earlier time; earlier than anticipated runs have meant larger than anticipated returns. Looking at last year, which was generally a good return, harvest is running about twice or more than twice what was harvested at the same date. This is not unprecedented in recent times. This return is behind what we saw in 2012 at this date…that was the strongest return in recent years.
In addition to D102/Kendrick and D101/Nakat, SSRAA produced chums have been harvested in D106 and D108 drift fisheries. The most recent seine opening will include D101 and D104. Early chum harvest in those districts is often comprised primarily of Neets Bay fish or a mixture of Neets and the other SSRAA releases.
We don’t have good statistical information on the male/female ration as yet. That information improves during cost recovery when we have a more intensive assessment of daily harvest; regardless, what information we have suggests 60 to 75% of the fish are male. This is what we would expect at this date. For the next several weeks opportunity to harvest these fish may be allotted conservatively by ADF&G as pretty much the entire seine fleet is now fishing in southern SE.
We are optimistic. It is fair to assume this return will be larger than forecast; not the largest return we have experienced by quite a bit, but certainly better than “normal”. And then, unfortunately, with recent serious differences in water temperature and weather, noting is certain until it’s in someone’s hold.
Cost recovery will begin shortly after the last seine rotation in Neets Bay, probably on 6 or 7 July. We will follow cost recovery and broodstock collection weekly on this page.
Early season graphics don’t show a lot…we will start updating the historic set of graphics through next week.