Special Action





This emergency special action opens a 72-hour opportunity for Federally  qualified  subsistence users to harvest  Chinook  and Chum salmon on Federal  public waters of the Kuskokwim  River  and tributaries, except those tributaries previously closed including the Eek, Kwethluk, Kasigluk, Kisaralik,  Tuluksak, and Aniak  Rivers  (3-KS-03-16).   During this opportunity,  Federally qualified  subsistence users may fish from  12:0lp.m. (noon) June 21, 2016, until  11:59 a.m.   (noon) June 24, 2016 using set and drift gillnets with 6-inch or less stretched mesh and not exceeding 45 meshes in depth.  From the Yukon  Delta National  Wildlife Refuge (Refuge)  boundary at Kuskokwim River mouth upstream to Johnson River mouth, nets must be no longer  than 300 feet (50 fathoms) in length.  From Johnson River mouth  upstream  to a line downstream  of Kalskag  at the south edge of Uknavik  slough and then due east to the edge of the bluff line,    nets must be no longer than  150 feet (25 fathoms)  in  length.

Last edited 06/23/2016

Federal public waters remain closed to harvest of Chinook and Chum salmon except by Federally qualified subsistence users identified under an ANILCA Section 804 analysis, including residents of the Kuskokwim River drainage and the villages of Chefornak, Kipnuk Kwigillingok,  and Kongiganek.

During this opportunity, all fish caught in all legal gear types may be retained. Legal gear types include gill nets, hook and line, fish wheels, dip nets, beach seines and all other legal gear types identified  in Federal  subsistence regulations.

This action was made after consultation with the Kuskokwim River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission  (KRITFC)  and the Alaska Department  of Fish and Game  (ADF&G).

Once this special action expires on June 24, 2016 at noon, Federal public waters of the    Kuskokwim River will remain closed to the harvest of Chinook and Chum salmon by Federally qualified subsistence users using all gear types based on Federal Special Action 3-KS-O la-16, which was issued on June  1, 2016.  Subsequent fishing openings, closings, and fishing methods   for Federally qualified subsistence users will be announced by Federal emergency special action, after consultation and coordination  with the KRITFC  and the  ADF&G.


50 CFR  100.27(i)(4) is amended to  add:

Unless re-opened by the Yukon Delta National Refuge Manager, Federal public waters in that portion of the Kuskokwim River drainage within and adjacent to the exterior boundaries of the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge are closed to the harvest a/ Chinook and Chum salmon by Federally qualified subsistence users. Based on observed run strength and in consideration of conservation concerns and escapement goals, the Federal In Season Manager may open Federal public waters of the Kuskokwim River to the harvest of Chinook and Chum salmon by Federally qualified subsistence users identified under a ANILCA Section 804 analysis: residents of the Kuskokwim River drainage and the villages a/ Chefornak, Kipnuk, Kwigillingok, and  Kongiganek .

Federally qualified subsistence users can use drift and set gillnets to 1,arvest Cl,inook and Cl,um salmon  in Federal public  waters of tl,e Kuskokwim  Riverfrom  June 21, 2016 at   12:01

p.m. (noon) until June 24, 2016 at 11:59 a.m.  (noon) below a line downstream  of Kalskag  at  tl,e soutl, edge of Uknavik slougl, and tl,en due east to tl,e edge of tl,e bluff line. Gil/nets are restricted to be 6-incl, or less stretcl,ed mes/, and may not exceed 45 mesl,es in dept!, and 300-  feet in lengtl,  (50fatl,oms)  below tl,e Jol,nson  river and 150feet  in lengtl,  (25fatl,oms)  above  tl,e Jol,nson River.  All jis/1  caugl,t  using legal gear types during tl,is opening  are legal and  may  be retained.



The Kuskokwim River has experienced several consecutive  years of low Chinook  Salmon returns and escapement goals were not met at two of three weir projects in 2014. While escapement was met at the three weir projects in 2015, conservation measures are warranted in 2016 to aid in the recovery of the population. The 2015 Chinook Salmon drainage-wide return was estimated at 172,000 fish, well below the annual average of 243,000 fish over the last 25 years.

The Federal  in-season manager  supports managing the fishery based  on a risk-adverse  forecast and conservative harvest objective for 2016. Given the uncertainty in the estimated 2015 return, which becomes the 2016 forecast, an alternative is to treat the 2015 drainage-wide return as the average of the midpoints between the run-reconstruction estimate (172,000 fish) and an estimate based on a mark-recapture project (124,000 fish). The average of these two methods is 148,000 Chinook salmon. Given the poor returns in recent years, corresponding  fisheries restrictions,  and  an interest  in facilitating  stock rebuilding,  Kuskokwim  River  stakeholders have expressed an

interest in targeting the top 85% of the drainage-wide escapement goal of 65,000 to 120,000 Chinook Salmon for the Kuskokwim River.  The top 85% of the established goal represents a  target of 102,000 Chinook Salmon. The difference between a risk adverse 2016 forecast and the escapement target suggests a conservative harvestable surplus of approximately 46,000 Chinook Salmon.

The estimated harvestable surplus is well below the long-term average subsistence harvest of approximately  87,000 Chinook  Salmon annually in the Kuskokwim  River drainage.  Thus,  harvest restrictions are necessary for the continued viability of Chinook Salmon and the continuation  of subsistence uses in the future.      In 2015, the subsistence harvest was  estimated to be a historically low harvest of  16,000 Chinook  Salmon and resulted  in a drainage-wide escapement of an estimated 155,000 fish. The Federal in-season manager supports providing limited, controlled  fishing  opportunities  to target approximately  40,000  Chinook  Salmon in 2016.

The Chum Salmon run has been a concern for Federally qualified subsistence users and  conservative harvest management is necessary  to protect the continued viability of the population  an provide continued  subsistence uses.  In 2015, the Chum Salmon run was smaller than   anticipated and was a conservation concern. In 2014, based on the most recent available  information, Federally qualified subsistence users relied more on Chum Salmon than in previous · years, in response to low Chinook  Salmon returns and harvest   restrictions.

During two directed subsistence harvest opportunities, an estimated 11,000 - 16,000 Chinook have been harvested. The initial fishing opportunity on June 12, 2016 consisted of a 12-hour opportunity for Federally qualified subsistence users to target Chinook and Chum salmon using drift and set gillnets on Federal public waters of the Kuskokwim River. During that 12-hour opportunity, an estimated 4,600 -6,500 Chinook Salmon were harvested. The second  opportunity on June 16-17, 2016 consisted of a 24-hour opening opportunity for Federally qualified subsistence users to target Chinook and Chum salmon using drift and set gillnets on Federal public waters of the Kuskokwim River. During that 24-hour opportunity, an estimated 6,300 - 9,300 Chinook Salmon were harvested. Consistent with the subsistence harvest target of 40,000 Chinook Salmon, this emergency special action will provide a longer, 72-hour opening to provide more harvest opportunity for Federally qualified subsistence users within the lower portions of the river. This opportunity will also improve assessment of run strength while furthering stock conservation by limiting the duration of the subsistence fishing opportunity.


Salmon, particularly Chinook, are critical to the cultural and traditional  needs of people  residing  in the Kuskokwim River drainage. Harvest by local residents has been severely restricted or eliminated in recent years in an effort to provide stock conservation. This targeted, but limited, subsistence fishing opportunity will provide local residents with Chinook and Chum salmon that  are critical to cultural and traditional needs. This special action will provide more subsistence harvest  opportunity  in this time  of conservation.

The subsistence harvest of salmon has been restricted for several years with varying success to conserve Chinook  Salmon.  The estimated  harvest  from June  12 and June  16-17 were discussed with KRITFC  In-season  Management  Committee  and options for this opportunity  were discussed with the KRITFC  on June  19, 2016.  The consensus from the meeting with the   KRITFC In-season Management Committee and the Federal in-season manager was to provide different harvest  opportunities  above and below Kalskag.  Below Kalskag, a conservative,  72- hour subsistence harvest opportunity would be provided starting at noon, 12:01 p.m., Tuesday,  June 21 through noon, 11:59 a.m., on Friday, June 24, 2016 below Kalskag. Above Kalskag, the harvest opportunity would start at noon, 12:01 p.m., Tuesday, June 21 and remain open to  Federally qualified  subsistence users until closed.  Discussions with KRITFC  In-Season Committee about the different harvest opportunities above and below Kalskag were to provide harvest opportunity for subsistence users and minimize the risk of overharvesting. The 72-hour opening also allows for fishing on the tides and everyone to have an opportunity to harvest  Chinook  and Chum salmon.

View PDF /sites/doi.gov/files/uploads/3-ks-06a-16_signed_rb.pdf

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