Projections for SSRAA summer chum returns to broodstock collection sites at Neets Bay and Burnett Inlet are worsening rapidly. These projections are derived from the numbers of chum observed on-site in both of these terminal areas as well as the fraction of Neets/Burnett fish being caught in the common property corridors leading to those two sites. As many of you are aware, the summer chum return throughout SE Alaska has been poor in the first place, and now the absence of Neets and Burnett fish within that poor run have created what amounts to a developing broodstock emergency.
On July 17th 2019, the Neets Bay THA closed to commercial trolling in those waters east of the longitude of Chin Point in order to ensure broodstock needs. Trollers have continued to fish the waters outside the THA as part of the general summer fishery with limited success during the last week.
This measure of broodstock protection has provided very little substantive help for the situation we’re facing. In order to address the rapidly unfolding scenario of a substantial broodstock shortage, SSRAA staff are considering all options, including:
- Assuming that there will be no meaningful cost recovery at Neets Bay – and raising a section of the barrier net to allow any and all chum to immediately recruit to the raceways when they’re ripe.
- Working with the Department to restrict rotational net fisheries at Anita Bay in time and/or area. Doing this would allow SSRAA to take eggs remotely from the Anita SHA. Although this would be a dramatic and somewhat unorthodox method for obtaining broodstock, it may be the only way to achieve the number of eggs to fill SSRAA chum programs – which needless to say is this industry’s lifeblood. Since Anita Bay is a rotational site, with a later run and close to an incubation facility (at Burnett Inlet), a remote egg take there would be by far the most feasible.
- We will follow the SSRAA Cash Shortfall Policy, which outline steps to take when faced with financial downturns such as the one we’re expecting with the loss of Neets cost recovery. Although this policy prioritizes expense reduction, there is also the possibility of generating additional revenue, such as taking cost recovery from the other THAs, including Anita Bay.
Any or all of these options, or others, will be taken with priority given to proper fish culture practices, sound financial management and consideration given to all of SSRAA’s fleets. SSRAA Board input will also be sought. Please be aware, however, that this is a highly dynamic and unprecedented situation that demands all of our full attention and understanding.