Annette Islands Reserve Coho
Volume data of 1,360 metric tons is the average from 2000-2012 for coho salmon according to ADF&G data. Catches were reported in numbers of fish and converted to volumes by assuming an average fish weight for each species within the Southeast Alaska region (weights calculated using ADF&G data from 2004-2012).
The Annette Islands Reserve (AIR), located in southeast Alaska southwest of Ketchikan, is home to the Metlakatla Indian Community (MIC), which manages commercial salmon fisheries in conjunction with the Bureau of Indian Affairs in marine waters within 3,000 feet of the islands. The AIR fishery targets all five species of Pacific salmon (pink, chum, coho, Chinook, sockeye) and is the only fishery managed by indigenous peoples in Alaska. There were originally fifteen units of certification, delineated by species and by gear (gillnet, seine, and troll). The fishery entered the MSC assessment process in November 2009 and received certification in June 2011 for all species excluding sockeye. The first surveillance audit took place in May 2012. In March 2013, a request to separate AIR sockeye salmon into two units was granted. The Tain Creek/Trout Lake sockeye unit will seek MSC certification under an expedited assessment, whereas the Tamgas Creek unit will continue to be evaluated as a non-target species in the regular surveillance audits.
Harvest takes place from May through October and is primarily conducted by purse seine and drift gillnets, with occasional harvest by power and hand trollers. The fishery takes about 1.1 million fish per year on average, and the catch is dominated by pink salmon, followed by chum, coho, sockeye and Chinook salmon. Commercial harvest is sold to the Annette Island Packing Company, which produces fillets and headed/gutted salmon for European markets. Catches refused by the packing company due to capacity issues are sold to processors off the island.
Compliance with fishery regulations is high, but there are concerns about fishery and hatchery impacts on wild salmon populations. One major issue is that local sockeye populations are depleted from past harvest and current habitat loss due to a hatchery weir that prevents access to upstream spawning and rearing grounds. The proportion of hatchery-origin fish spawning in wild areas should be estimated to evaluate genetic impacts on wild salmon populations, and catch estimates for specific stock components (local, non-local, hatchery, wild) are needed to improve harvest strategies. To address these concerns, sockeye recovery plans and fish marking studies are currently under development.
Metlakatla Indian Community (MIC; fishery client), MIC Fish and Wildlife, MIC Tribal Council, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Tamgas Creek Hatchery, Annette Island Packing Company, Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G)
The Public Comment Draft Report for the expedited assessment of Tain Creek/Trout Lake sockeye is scheduled for publication on or before October 31, 2013. A peer reviewer was proposed on September 18, 2013, indicating that the sockeye fishery has been recommended for certification, and that the Client has developed an Action Plan for that fishery.
The third annual audit site visit is scheduled for spring 2014. The purpose of the audit is to evaluate progress in meeting conditions identified in the assessment report.
The audit team conducted the second annual audit site visit on Annette Island in April 29-30, 2013 and concluded that the AIR salmon fisheries were still in general compliance with the MSC standard. At the close of the audit, 10 conditions had been closed (completed), 9 remained open and on schedule, and 3 remained open but behind schedule (with minor and major non-conformances raised).
The audit team conducted the first annual audit site visit on Annette Island May 10-11, 2012. One procedural change was that sockeye salmon were evaluated as a retained species rather than a target species. At the close of the audit, 4 conditions had been closed (completed), 3 remained open and ahead of schedule, 14 remained open and on schedule, and 1 remained open but behind schedule (with a minor non-conformance raised).