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Yukon River

Last Update: 11/1/2013
For current sustainability information on this fishery visit the Marine Stewardship Council website.
Start Date: 
01/1999
Sustainability ProgressAction Progress
Certification Status: 
Volume: 
< 1k

Volume data of 813 metric tons is an annual average from 2002 – 2011. NPAFC provided catch volumes for the entire Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim (AYK) region, and the catch proportion for each AYK fishery was estimated using catches and fish weights from ADF&G Area Management reports (data from 2008-2012).

For current sustainability information on this fishery visit the Marine Stewardship Council website.

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 Yukon Management Area (YMA) is part of the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim Region, and it includes the Alaska portion of the Yukon River and some marine waters along the Bering Sea coast. The Yukon is the largest river in Alaska, originating in British Columbia and the Yukon Territory and flowing over 2,300 miles (3700 km) to the Bering Sea. Commercial salmon fishing occurs throughout the 1,200 miles (1930 km) of the Alaska mainstem portion of the river, as well as parts of tributaries. The vast majority of harvest occurs in the lower river, where drift gillnet is the predominant gear type. Set gillnets are more common in the coastal district, and fish wheels account for most of the commercial harvest in the middle river districts.

Commercial harvest has traditionally been dominated by Chinook, chum, and coho salmon, but Chinook have been a stock of yield concern since 2000. The last commercial fishery targeting Chinook salmon occurred in 2007.  Subsistence fishing is highly important to people throughout the YMA, especially for chum and Chinook salmon. However, annual subsistence Chinook harvests have been below the lower end of the “Amounts Necessary for Subsistence” (ANS; 45,500-66,704 fish per year) since 2008, due in part to low Chinook abundance, management actions, and informed choice among some subsistence users to increase escapements.

The YMA salmon fisheries are managed to achieve spawning escapement goals in a number of tributaries at the US/Canada border. There are 16 goals in the YMA: 7 for Chinook, 2 for summer chum, 6 for fall chum, and 1 for coho. In addition, there are 3 goals for Canadian stocks: 1 for Chinook and 2 for fall chum. During 2007 to 2011, escapement goals were achieved most years for Chinook, summer and fall chum, and coho. There is no enhancement (hatchery activity or spawning channels) in the Alaskan Yukon, but there is a small Chinook hatchery in Canada.  The Canadian commercial fishery is not part of this MSC assessment.

Stakeholders:

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, Yukon River Drainage Fisheries Association

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

Assessment
November, 2013

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 Yukon salmon fishery.  Although Chinook abundance has been low in recent years resulting in Chinook being identified as a stock of concern, there has been no directed commercial fishery since 2007, and managers have minimized incidental harvests of Chinook in the chum fishery.

Update
November, 2013

The Alaska salmon fisheries were re-certified for a second time in November 2013, and the first surveillance audit will take place in 2014.

2013 Assessment - Log in or register to access this file.
2013 Action Plan - Log in or register to access this file.
Contacts: 
Intertek Moody Marine
Purse Seine Vessel Owners’ Association
Contact us if you have information regarding this fishery improvement project.