The good news – SSRAA completed the summer chum eggtake of nearly 210 million eggs, which is the maximum permitted capacity, even a bit more than our production goal of 205 million. Being able to accomplish this was a major victory and depended on a combination of luck, weather, planning and extraordinary effort by a lot of key SSRAA staff members. We ended up needing the chum transported from Anita Bay to Burnett Inlet to round out the final number of fish needed, and there were essentially zero fish left over at the end of the eggtake. Great work and many thanks to all those who participated in this effort!
The bad news – after the summer chum season comes the fall chum and coho season, and we’re faced with another shortage of both species, fall chum in particular. We had originally hoped that fall fishing could be almost entirely used for liberalized trolling in Neets Bay along with net rotations. But after the summer chum cost recovery failed to materialize, we knew that fishing opportunity would have to yield to replacing (in part) the cost recovery we weren’t able to take in the summer. And now the returns to Neets Bay have been so weak that we’re once again in a struggle to get enough fish back to the Bay to make our broodstock eggtake goal. Fortunately, Burnett Inlet is also a brood site for fall chum and has performed much better than Neets thus far. Although the Burnett staff haven’t started taking eggs at this point, there has been a good showing of fish in saltwater at the bottom of the ladder as well as a fair amount of chum farther out in the inlet.
As a result of the low returns to Neets Bay, we have asked ADF&G to keep the Neets Bay THA closed to all commercial fisheries until further notice. This is a difficult step to take but is absolutely necessary to protect what little broodstock we have coming back to Neets Bay presently.
Although we are holding out hope for the fall run to strengthen, at this time we simply don’t see anything other than a continued struggle for broodstock. Check back for further updates.