SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Subsistence Eulachon Fishery Closed in
Federal Waters in Burroughs Bay Area


February 09, 2006

Ketchikan, Alaska - Ketchikan-Misty Fiords District Ranger Lynn Kolund has announced that he is acting immediately to protect eulachon stocks in the Burroughs Bay/Unuk River area north of Ketchikan, Alaska. The ranger, as in-season manager, is closing the Federal subsistence eulachon fishery to all users in Federal public waters in the Burroughs Bay/Unuk River area (Area 1D) due to very low fish numbers in 2004 and 2005. The Federal Subsistence Board has delegated to him this in-season management authority.

jpg Eulachon

(Thaleichthys pacificus)
Photo courtesy Alaska Fisheries Sceience Center
National Marine Fisheries Service - NOAA Fisheries

The closure will be effective 11:59 p.m., Friday, Feb. 25, 2006, and continue until 11:59 p.m., April 25, 2006. Any eulachon caught in this area must be immediately returned to the water unharmed.

Few eulachon have returned to the Burroughs Bay area since 2003. "Eulachon are an important subsistence fish for many residents of Southeast Alaska, so we're acting now to protect these stocks so we can rebuild fish populations for the future," Kolund said.

The strength of the eulachon return is determined by the amount of harvest by federally qualified subsistence fisherman and through observations made by U.S. Forest Service fisheries staff. In 2004, only 1,500 pounds of eulachon were harvested and very low numbers of returning eulachon were seen by either fishermen or Forest Service personnel. In 2005, no fish were harvested and only a few eulachon (fewer than 100) were seen in the area. Monitoring efforts by the Forest Service, Alaska Department of Fish & Game, and fisherman since 2001 have provided baseline information, but still little is known about the eulachon after they leave the river systems for saltwater. Since the projected escapement of eulachon in the Burroughs Bay area is unknown at this time, the area will be closed to all users to provide for spawning escapement needs for any fish that do return in 2006. Subsistence fishermen may contact the Ketchikan-Misty Fiords Ranger District to determine other locations where their subsistence needs may be met.

The Forest Service manages subsistence fisheries in fresh waters of the Tongass National Forest. ADF&G continues to manage subsistence fisheries in marine waters of the State of Alaska. This special action has been coordinated with ADF&G and parallel actions are being taken by ADF&G as they apply to the eulachon fisheries in Burroughs Bay area.

"With this concurrent action by ADF&G and the Forest Service, both Federal subsistence and State subsistence eulachon fishing in fresh and saltwater are closed in Area 1D as of 11:59 p.m. Friday, Feb. 25, 2006," Kolund said. Area 1D includes Burroughs Bay and extends North of Rudyard Bay in East Behm Canal to Chin Point in West Behm Canal. The Ketchikan-Misty Fiords Ranger District will continue to work in cooperation with ADF&G to monitor returns to this system and will provide a further update in the event that a change occurs.


Sources of news:

Federal Subsistence Board
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Alaska Department of Fish & Game
Ketchikan-Misty Fiords District


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