The proposed project monitors Chinook and sockeye escapement to important Alsek River sub-drainages. It permits estimation of Chinook salmon escapement drainage-wide, and when coupled with GSI permits estimation of sockeye salmon escapement drainage-wide. It is the primary tool for identifying whether or not Klukshu and Alsek river escapement goals and fishery management targets have been achieved under Chapter 1 Paragraph 4 of the Pacific Salmon Treaty. Aspects of the project being developed in recent years have added significant diversity and strength to our understanding and management of Alsek River salmon stocks.
DIPAC took over raising Chinook salmon for the Juneau Area Recreational Chinook program from ADF&G in 1994 when Snettisham Salmon Hatchery was being converted to a sockeye facility, and a cooperative agreement has been in place ever since for production of Chinook around Gastineau Channel in District 111. Prior to this cooperative agreement, the State operated this recreational fisheries program since 1986. Maintaining Chinook production is an important aspect of DIPAC and ADF&G’s relationship with the Juneau fishing community by providing harvest opportunity. Although this program is intended primarily for sportfish enhancement, it provides direct and tangible benefits to local sport and commercial groups alike. The harvest of hatchery fish throughout Juneau, or specifically in Terminal Harvest Areas, at times provides the only fishing access for Chinook when there are other more restrictive management actions to protect wild stocks as has been the case in recent years with conservative management measures in place to protect the transboundary Taku River stock and the Chilkat River stock. These funds will go directly into rearing and releasing healthy Chinook smolt into Juneau waters.
Chinook salmon produced at Crystal Lake Hatchery support commercial and marine sport fisheries in District 108 and 103, along with terminal sport fisheries near the communities of Petersburg, Wrangell and Craig. Hatchery production from this facility has become increasing important in recent years as Southeast Alaska and Transboundary River stocks have experienced a persistent period of poor productivity resulting in the designation of several Stocks of Concern and subsequent harvest restrictions. These harvest restrictions were put in place to achieve escapement goals per State of Alaska policy and per Treaty obligations specified in Chapter 1 and Chapter 3 of the 2019 Treaty Agreement and have resulted in significant impacts on the coastal communities reliant on Chinook salmon. There is no doubt that this is a critically needed facility, the loss of which would be catastrophic for Southeast chinook fishers. The requested funds will support the production of 1,700,000 Chinook, maintaining releases from Crystal Lake (600,000), City Creek in Petersburg (100,000), Anita Bay (500,000), and Port Saint Nicholas (500,000).
This project will assure the efficiency of an operation that contributes pink, chum, coho and chinook salmon to commercial fishermen in the waters of Southeast Alaska. This enhancement project will put salmon into the common property fisheries of Sitka Sound. Salmon that have originated from the Sitka Sound Science Center Sheldon Jackson (SJ)Salmon Hatchery have demonstrated in recent years to be financially beneficial to the commercial fleet of Southeast Alaska. The Sitka Sound Science Center’s Spawning and Incubation Facility (SpIFy) will co-locate incubation and spawning in one area which will not only increase efficiency by utilizing existing technology to produce salmon that will return to Sitka Sound and caught by fishermen from the region, but it will also create a stronger research facility for examination of these stocks in the future.
Juvenile sockeye salmon rearing capacity for the following nursery lakes would be determined through detailed limnology sampling and the measuring of physical features at: King Salmon lake, Kuthai Lake, Little Trapper lake, Nakina Lake, Tatsamenie Lake, Trapper Lake, and Victoria Lake. By collecting these data sets, each lake can be evaluated to model juvenile rearing potential. In addition to establishing current conditions these data would also allow for a direct comparison at each lake to previous assessment results. The previous assessment results would be used to ensure repeatable sampling was conducted and that any changes to habitat are recorded.
We propose to assess mark-rates of Sockeye (and tag loss) at the Kwinageese weir and include these data in the mark-recapture while simultaneously assessing spaghetti tag loss, observer efficiency, and potential selective removal of spaghetti tagged fish. This will be achieved through implementing Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) technology alongside our traditional spaghetti tagging program.
We propose radio tagging 200 large Chinook salmon during the annual stock assessment project on the Stikine River in 2022 with the primary objective to estimate the proportion of large Chinook salmon (≥ 660 mm mid eye to fork of tail (MEF)) tagged below the border that migrate past the U.S./Canada border. Additional objectives include addressing existing questions about migration, behavior and landslide passage. To implement a telemetry project in 2022, tags and other gear must be purchased in advance, beginning in 2021.
The accurate identification of population of origin of mixed-stock samples, and clear delimitations of stock structure, e.g., to the Conservation Unit level, are key components of fisheries management, including for Fraser River sockeye. Currently, genetic stock identification for sockeye salmon is conducted both in-season and post-season using a microsatellite panel. The Molecular Genetics Lab (MGL) at PBS is transitioning all salmonid genetic baselines from traditional microsatellite panels to medium density amplicon panels (i.e., ~500 SNP markers), although legacy microsatellite panels will also remain in operation for most species. The 500-marker SNP panels in operation at MGL have thus far yielded superior resolution to the microsatellite panels for stock identification work. Chinook, coho, and chum salmon all have SNP panels within MGL, and plans are in place to develop such panels for both sockeye and pink salmon as well.
Historical data indicate that upper Fraser River pink salmon stocks return to the Fraser River earlier than lower Fraser River pink stocks. Given the differential migration timing between upper and lower Fraser River pink salmon, stock proportion estimates could provide in-season indications of timing for the total pink salmon run. This would improve the in-season assessment of pink salmon run size early in the season, when it is notoriously difficult to differentiate between a run that is early and small or late and large.
Current pink salmon genetic stock identification (GSI) has focused on estimating the proportion of Fraser River versus non-Fraser pink salmon. Further differentiation between early/upper and late/lower Fraser River pink salmon stocks will require additional baseline samples from the spawning grounds. To obtain these data, we intend to hire temporary staff
to visit spawning sites for pink salmon in the Fraser River and collect new tissues for DNA analysis, targeting particular spawning areas that are represented poorly in the current DNA baseline by old samples of questionable quality. DNA will be extracted from these tissues and genotypes will be collected at 16 microsatellite loci to augment and/or replace (as appropriate) the current baseline.
The indicator stock for Fraser River summer run age-0.3 stock group of Chinook Salmon is the Lower Shuswap population in the interior of BC. However, Maria Slough is the only population in this stock group in the Lower Fraser River and its population is at a much higher conservation concern than the rest of the summer run age-0.3 stock. The CDFO Salmon Enhancement Program has re-initiated hatchery production as a conservation measure for supplementing Maria Slough Chinook since abundance has declined to less than 20% of its historic average. Additionally, the escapement estimate has low precision and moderate accuracy. This project will implement an innovative application of passive integrated transponder (PIT) technology to increase the accuracy and precision of the escapement, and pair it with applying coded wire tags (CWT) to Maria Slough Chinook to collect fisheries and other biological data.