Volume data of 5,670 metric tons is the annual average catch from 2002 – 2011 according to NPAFC.
The Alaska salmon fisheries were some of the earliest fisheries to receive MSC certification, being first certified in December 2000. Since then, the fisheries were re-certified in October 2007 and again in November 2013. Four conservation groups filed an objection to the most recent certification effort, citing insufficient evaluation of harvest rates on depleted, non-Alaskan salmon stocks intercepted in Southeast Alaska fisheries. However, an independent adjudicator dismissed the objection. The Units of Certification (UoCs; sub-components of the fishery that are individually evaluated) have varied among assessments, with the most recent assessment defining 14 units based on geographic area. Thirteen of the units were scored to pass certification, but the Prince William Sound (PWS) UoC is still under assessment, likely due to issues regarding hatchery production and the potential impacts on local wild stocks. Indeed, one of the most important fishery concerns is the accelerating release of hatchery pink and chum in Kodiak, PWS and Southeast Alaska (SEAK). Another issue is that some fisheries may affect stocks with low abundances that are designated as ‘stocks of concern,’ which are specified as ‘yield concern’ (escapement goals met but expected yields not met) or ‘management concern’ (escapement goals not met). Although the Alaska salmon fisheries benefit from the availability of high quality spawning habitat and a management system that closely monitors catches and escapements, there are still improvements to be made.
The Chignik Management Area (CMA) is in the Westward Management Region and is located on the south side of the Alaska Peninsula, approximately 250 miles southwest of Kodiak. The Chignik salmon fishery mostly catches sockeye salmon, largely from Chignik Lagoon. Fishing also occurs in districts along the south side of the Alaska Peninsula when they are opened by ADF&G. Most chum and pink salmon are harvested in these coastal districts. Catch of Chinook salmon is largely incidental to the sockeye fishery in the lagoon. Coho returning to the Chignik lake system can support modest harvests when fishermen fish into late September, but effort is often low. Purse seine is the only commercial gear. Although Black Lake has naturally become warmer and shallower in recent decades, the salmon stocks remain relatively robust.
The fishery is managed to achieve spawning escapement goals. There is 1 goal for Chinook, 2 for pink, 2 for sockeye, and 1 for chum salmon. Escapement goals for sockeye, Chinook, pink, and chum salmon have been met each year from 2003-2011. Due to the late return timing of coho salmon and the limited fishing effort on the species, coho escapement goals have not been established in the CMA. The Chignik fishery has a long history of management and research, including studies conducted by the University of Washington. The Chignik Regional Aquaculture Association (CRAA) supports research for improving management of wild salmon and evaluating the natural changes in Black Lake rearing habitat. There is no hatchery production of salmon in the area.
Purse Seine Vessels Owners Association (PSVOA; fishery client), Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G), Wild Salmon Center, Raincoast Conservation Foundation, Watershed Watch Salmon Society, David Suzuki Foundation, SkeenaWild Conservation Trust, Wild Fish Conservancy, American Bird Conservancy, Sustainable Fisheries Partnerships, Pacific Salmon Foundation, World Wildlife Fund, Ecotrust, University of Alaska Fairbanks
Native Corporations involved in Alaska salmon fisheries:
Arctic Slope Native Association, Bering Straits Association, Northwest Alaska Native Association, Association of Village Council Presidents, Tanana Chiefs’ Conference, Cook Inlet Association, Bristol Bay Native Association, Aleut League, Chugach Native Association, Tlingit-Haida Central Council, Kodiak Area Native Association, Copper River Native Association
The 2013 MSC Public Certification Report identified one issue in the Chignik fishery that required special attention:
- Fishery reference points – Limit and target reference points need to be set for the wild coho stock, to improve harvest guidelines and assessment of stock status.
An Action Plan and timeline to address this issue was developed by PSVOA with assistance from ADF&G. The plan was approved by the assessment team prior to release of the Public Certification Report.