This proposal involves the enumeration of escapement of Chinook and sockeye salmon to three locations on Alsek River in Canada in collaboration with the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations (CAFN). The core of the project is the continuation of the long-standing Klukshu River enumeration project. Since 1976 Klukshu River enumeration has served as the tool by which Alsek River Canadian harvest opportunities are regulated and a critical tool for determining whether both Klukshu River, and since 2005, drainage-wide Alsek River Chinook and sockeye salmon escapement goals are achieved. Since 2016 video technology has been successfully used to enumerate returning salmon at Klukshu River.
Based on successes in 2019, we are again requesting funds in this project to support CAFN in providing technical assistance on all aspects of the project, as well as funding for continuation of two collaborative pilot projects in the Alsek River drainage. The first pilot project is to determine if sonar technology can be implemented in the Blanchard River to enumerate important Alsek River Chinook and sockeye stocks. Project scoping and preliminary trials began in 2018, and in 2019, with the support of NEF funding, we were able to deliver a successful season of sonar enumeration covering the Chinook migration period. The lessons learned and successes of the 2019 season indicate that ongoing sonar monitoring of this important stock may be annually feasible. The second pilot project is to build on past Takhanne River Chinook salmon enumeration projects by implementing non-invasive snorkel surveys to enumerate salmon. This project was very successful in 2018 and 2019 in allowing a complete census of the Takhanne River Chinook salmon stock, as well as providing valuable information on sockeye salmon in the Takhanne River. This project is adding valuable new data points to the historic time series of Takhanne salmon survey work and is now established as ongoing annual monitoring of an important Alsek River Chinook salmon stock.