SSRAA is still experiencing a severe shortfall of summer chum at both Neets Bay and Burnett Inlet. These are the only two sites where we take summer chum eggs. Going into the season with an egg take goal of 205 million, we anticipated an approximate split of 155 million at Neets and 50 million at Burnett. These numbers could shift somewhat from one site to another depending on a number of factors, including common property interception, cost recovery, weather, etc. But the 205 million number was – and is – the goal.
At this point, we have our eyes on approximately 40,000 chum in Neets Bay, and the an estimated 20-30,000 at Burnett. For reference, a “quick and dirty” estimate of fish to eggs is 1,000 eggs per brood fish (female and male together). So, in other words – we have substantially fewer than half the fish we need in the immediate area of the egg take sites – and until the eggs are in the incubators this is a very tentative number as well. Marine mammal predation, fish schools backing out of the THAs, etc. can all happen before we get the eggs.
To update interested parties on the current actions taken to mitigate these circumstances:
- Cost recovery has been suspended in Neets Bay indefinitely and trolling will continue to be closed inside of chin point through August.
- We have raised several sections of the barrier net to allow any and all chum to immediately recruit to the raceways when they’re ripe. This was done on July 27th and it remains open to recruitment.
- The SSRAA Executive Board met on July 30th to discuss further actions The Board chose to restrict rotational net fisheries at Anita Bay by drawing a line at the head of the Bay to sequester broodstock. This allows the fleets to continue with the scheduled rotations while enabling SSRAA to take eggs remotely from Anita Bay. As mentioned before, this may be the only way to achieve the number of eggs to fill SSRAA chum programs. We are expecting the Department to announce this closure line soon – probably today, July 31. The closure line take effect after the gillnet rotation ends on August 3rd at noon. The line drawn is expected to be west of the 132 degrees 26.98’W. line that is described in 5AAC 33.383 Anita Bay Terminal Harvest Area Management Plan. If there are fish in this broodstock protection area that end up being excess to brood needs, they will be harvested by SSRAA as cost recovery.
- The Board reaffirmed the egg take goal at 205 million. If we should somehow fall short of that goal, we will revisit the distribution of whatever number of eggs we do have in a subsequent meeting of the Executive Board in late August, before the thermal marking of eggs for different sites takes place.
These measures have been taken to ensure the continued operation of SSRAA and the continued viability of enhanced salmon fisheries in SE Alaska. We realize that these are difficult measures to take, and ones that affect the livelihoods of salmon users in the Southern SE Alaska region. Thank you for your continued understanding in this difficult situation.