Volume data of 88,449 metric tons is the annual average catch from 2002 – 2011 for Southeast Alaska according to NPAFC, minus the catches for Yakutat and Annette Islands.
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 Southeast Alaska salmon fishery is located along the Alaska panhandle. It is bordered by Canada to the south and east and by the Yakutat fishery to the north. All five species of Pacific salmon are targeted by drift gillnet, purse seine and troll fisheries. A number of hatcheries operate in the region, producing all five salmon species. Chum is the dominant hatchery species, providing 84% of the commercial chum catch in 2012. Hatchery Chinook and coho provide 21% and 27% of the species catch, respectively, followed by sockeye (12%) and pinks (1%). Hatchery chum salmon are marked, and recent studies show high rates of straying into streams within 50 km of the release location, leading to concerns about hatchery contributions to the escapement as well as effects of hatchery chum on wild chum fitness.
The fishery is managed to achieve escapement goals of local stocks. Overall there are 9 goals for Chinook, 10 for coho, 3 for pink, 9 for sockeye, and 8 for chum salmon. During the past 9 years, escapement goals were mostly met or exceeded for all species. A notable exception is chum streams in the Northern Southeast Inside (NSI) area, which have been below the lower escapement goal in several recent years. Additionally, the NSI escapement counts include substantial numbers of strays. As of 2013, there were no local stocks of concern designated in SEAK. SEAK fisheries also harvest salmon migrating to British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest. Catches and escapements for these transboundary fisheries are regulated by the Pacific Salmon Treaty (PST). For example, under the PST an annual catch quota is set for total Chinook salmon harvest (all gear types), based on abundance estimates calculated before the start of the fishing season. Harvests of Nass and Skeena sockeye salmon in the southern Southeast fishery near the Canadian border are also managed under PST agreements, where the United States and Canada can each catch a proportion of a total harvest allowance that takes escapement goals into consideration.
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 Alaska salmon fisheries were re-certified for a second time in November 2013, and the first surveillance audit will take place in 2014.
The 2013 Public Certification Report for the Alaska salmon fisheries was released on November 12, 2013. The report identified three conditions to improve the fishery: