Upper Cook Inlet
Volume data of 11,077 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 Upper Cook Inlet (UCI) management area is located in Cook Inlet immediately south of Anchorage and north of the smaller Lower Cook Inlet management area. All five species of Pacific salmon are harvested, but the key species is sockeye salmon. Drift gillnet fishermen take approximately 50% of sockeye, pink, and coho, nearly 90% of chum, and approximately 7% of Chinook salmon. Stocking of hatchery salmon has occurred in UCI since the early 1970s. Most hatchery production involves sockeye salmon, with approximately 1 million marked fry released into Hidden Lake (Kenai watershed) in 2011. In 2011, approximately 112,000 hatchery adult sockeye, or 1.3% of the run, were harvested. Hatchery production of Chinook and coho is largely for sport fish harvests. ADF&G conducted a review of the UCI hatchery program in 2012 and found that hatchery operations met most regulations. There are no long-term plans for major expansion of hatchery production, and hatchery sockeye production has declined significantly in recent years. For example, stocking of sockeye salmon into Big Lake (northern UCI) was discontinued in 2009.
The Upper Cook Inlet fishery is managed to meet escapement goals for each species. There are 21 goals for Chinook, 3 for coho, 10 for sockeye, and 1 for chum salmon. During 2004-2012, the lower bound escapement goal was typically met for sockeye, Chinook, coho, and chum. The large number of escapement goals for Chinook salmon is a response to bycatch in the commercial fishery and keen interest by sport fishermen. Of these Chinook stocks, four were listed as stocks of management concern, and two were listed as stocks of yield concern. One of eleven sockeye salmon stocks (Suisitna River) is listed as a stock of yield concern. Action plans, as required for all listed stocks of concern in Alaska, have been prepared as a means to recover the UCI stocks. Stock composition of sockeye and Chinook salmon in the commercial fishery is estimated using genetic methods.
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 Public Certification Report for the Alaska salmon fisheries was released on November 12, 2013. No conditions (fishery improvement targets) were placed on the Upper Cook Inlet salmon fishery.
An Action Plan outlining timelines and activities that would be taken to address conditions was written by the Client, approved by the assessment team, and included in the assessment report. As no conditions were placed on the Upper Cook Inlet UoC, it was not included in the Action Plan.