Yukon River salmon update: Thursday, July 13th, 2017

Download a PDF version of this Salmon Update

Note: This update is intended to inform fish harvesters. Information provided in this update is preliminary and subject to change. For more information please refer to the contacts identified at the end of this update.

Chinook salmon fisheries management

Management of Chinook salmon in Canada is guided by the 2017 Integrated Fisheries Management Plan for Yukon River Chinook, Fall Chum, and Coho salmon (the IFMP). The IFMP was developed based on the management and allocation recommendations provided by the Yukon Salmon SubCommittee and considered (among other things) that the pre-season forecast was for weak run (70,000 to 97,000).

The management plan also recognizes that Yukon River Chinook salmon productivity has been consistently low for the past 9 years, the minimum spawning escapement target was not achieved in 5 of the past 10 years, and a conservative approach is required to provide for the long-term recovery and sustainability of the population.

Fishery management decisions are based on projections of run size of Chinook salmon returning to the upper Yukon River in Canada in accordance to the In-season management decision matrix for Yukon River mainstem Chinook salmon. It is important to note that some First Nation Governments have developed management plans that may contain specific conservation measures that differ from the general approach outlined in the matrix below:

Zone Border Passage Projection Summary of Management Actions
Red < 42,500 High conservation risk. Removal of Chinook salmon harvest allocations in all fisheries
Yellow 42,500 – 48,750* Limited First Nation subsistence harvest – Allocation objective varies in accordance with projected run abundance. Commercial, domestic and recreational fisheries closed.
48,750* – 55,000
*48,750 Spawning escapement (Management Target)
Moderate First Nation subsistence harvest – Allocation objective varies in accordance with project run abundance. Commercial, domestic and recreational fisheries closed.
Green > 55,000 Opportunity for normal (full) First Nation subsistence harvest.
Harvest opportunities for recreational, commercial, and domestic fisheries provided on a priority basis in accordance with projected to run abundance.

Please see the IFMP for further details on the in-season matrix for Chinook salmon.

Chinook salmon in-season assessment

Information from the Pilot Station sonar in the lower Yukon River in Alaska provides an early-season indication of run strength of Canadian-origin Chinook salmon. There is uncertainty associated with the Pilot Station estimate due to two principal challenges: 1) co-migration of Chinook salmon with several other fish species of similar size (species apportionment uncertainty), and 2) distinction of Canadian-origin Chinook salmon from U.S-origin Chinook Salmon (stock distinction uncertainty based on genetic analysis).

In the upper Yukon River, a robust estimate of the number of Chinook salmon returning to Canada is obtained from the sonar assessment that is located immediately downstream of the international border at Eagle, Alaska. The increased certainty in abundance estimates based on the Eagle sonar are attributable to the fact that Chinook salmon are the only upstream migrating species of salmon present at the site in July through mid-August, and all Chinook salmon migrating past the site are Canadian origin. Canadian fishery management decisions are largely based on border passage projections as assessed at the Eagle sonar.

In-season preliminary chinook salmon abundance estimate - Pilot station sonar (mouth)

Date % Passage complete Cumulative Passage Estimate Run Size Projection
July 12th 97% Total (U.S. & Canadian-origin) Canadian-origin Above Preseason range
253,250 98,686 (Range 51,810-160,365)

In-season preliminary chinook salmon abundance estimate - Eagle sonar (mainstem US/Canada border)

Date % Passage complete Cumulative Passage Estimate Run Size Projection
July 12th Too Early* 9,459 Too early*

*based on preliminary in-season genetic analysis

In-season preliminary chinook salmon abundance estimate - Porcupine sonar (old crow)

Date % Passage complete Cumulative Passage Estimate Run Size Projection
July 11th Too Early* 362 Too early*

Chinook salmon run summary and associated management actions

The 2017 pre-season forecast was for a run of 70,000 to 97,000 Canadian-origin Chinook salmon. Information from the Pilot Station sonar indicates the total run is likely above the pre-season forecast range. The Eagle sonar project began operations on July 1st and it is too early to use this information run strength.

Chinook salmon management zone and fishery status

Date Current Management Zone Fishery
First Nation Recreational Commercial Domestic
July 13th YELLOW Harvest opportunities at discretion of First Nation Governments. Conservative harvest approach No retention permitted Closed Closed

Notifications about fishery management actions

Canadian First Nation Subsistence Fisheries – Fisheries and Oceans Canada communicates directly with Yukon River First Nation Governments by way of recommendations and issuance of an Aboriginal Communal Salmon Fishing Licence issued to interested First Nations.

Canadian Recreational, Domestic, and Commercial Fisheries – Information is available via the Fishery Notification System.
Fishers are encouraged to subscribe to receive automatic notifications on fisheries of interest via email here.

U.S. Fisheries – Information on fisheries in U.S. portion of the Yukon River is available here.


For further information please contact:

Mary Ellen Jarvis
Fishery Manager, Yukon River
867-393-6815 or 867-393-6726

Nathan Millar
Manager, Treaties and Fisheries, Yukon River

Please direct all media requests to:

Lara Sloan
Communications Officer