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Yukon River salmon update: Thursday, August 23, 2018

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 2018 Integrated Fisheries Management Plan for Yukon River Chinook and fall chum salmon (the IFMP). The IFMP was developed based on the management and allocation recommendations provided by the Yukon Salmon Sub-Committee and considered (among other things) that the pre-season forecast was for weak run (71,000 to 103,000).

The management plan also recognizes that Yukon River Chinook salmon productivity has been consistently low for the past 11 years, the minimum spawning escapement target was not achieved in 5 of the past 11 years. 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. The basis for fishery management actions considers the spawning escapement target as the primary objective, followed by the availability of harvest share allocation in accordance with the Yukon River Salmon Agreement and finally in order of Canadian Yukon River salmon fishery priority (1. First Nation, 2. Public Angling, 3. Domestic and Commercial). Specific allocations to fisheries are contingent on the overall abundance of salmon. It is important to note that some First Nation Governments have developed and implemented local management plans that define specific First Nation fishery management actions.

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, the principle estimate of the number of Chinook salmon returning to Canada is obtained from the Eagle Sonar Assessment Program that is located immediately downstream of the international border at Eagle, Alaska. In addition, the number of Chinook salmon returning to the Porcupine River are estimated using the Porcupine Sonar Assessment Program located near Old Crow. There is a high degree of confidence in the estimated number of Chinook salmon migrating past the Eagle and Porcupine River Assessment Programs as Chinook salmon are the only upstream migrating species of salmon present at the sites in June and July and all Chinook salmon are Canadian origin. Canadian fishery management decisions are largely based on border passage estimates determined by the Eagle Sonar Program.

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

Date % Passage complete Cumulative passage estimate Run size projection
August 23 100% Total (U.S. & Canadian-origin) Canadian-origin Lower end of pre-season range
161,899 71,924*

* based on preliminary in-season genetic analysis

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

Date % Passage complete Cumulative passage estimate Run size projection
August 22 ~99% 58,092 Near average

In-season chinook salmon abundance estimate - Porcupine sonar (Porcupine River upstream of US/Canada Border near Old Crow)

Date % Passage complete Cumulative passage estimate Run size projection
August 15 N/A 3,385 Below Average

In-Season Chinook Salmon Abundance Estimate – various projects

Project Date Cumulative passage estimate Compared to average (for this date)
Pelly Sonar Aug 21 9,447 Above average
Blind Creek Aug 18 612 Near average
Big Salmon Sonar Aug 21 5,053 Near average
Takhini Sonar August 21 1,091 NA
Whitehorse Fishway August 22 523 Below Average

Chinook salmon run summary and associated management actions

The 2018 pre-season forecast was for a run of 71,000 to 103,000 Canadian-origin Chinook salmon. Information from the Pilot Station Sonar indicates the run is likely slightly below the pre-season forecast range. The Eagle Sonar project began operations on July 4th and requires at least of two weeks of assessment information to begin to confirm if the number of Chinook salmon migrating into Canada is tracking within the preseason forecast or the Pilot Station in-season estimate. The first in-season abundance estimate based on Eagle Sonar data will be generated on July 18.

Chinook salmon management zone and fishery status

Date Current Management Zone Fishery
First Nation Recreational Commercial Domestic
August 23 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.

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


For further information:

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

Nathan Millar
Manager, Treaties and Fisheries, Yukon River

Please direct all media requests to:

Lara Sloan
Communications Officer

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