A young boy reaches towards one of three Chinook salmon at the Whitehorse fish ladder on Aug. 12, 2019. The Pilot Station sonar, located near the mouth of the Yukon River in Alaska and the first point of data-collection on migrating salmon, will be operating this year after all. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Pilot Station salmon sonar to go ahead this season

The Pilot Station sonar, located near the mouth of the Yukon River in Alaska and the first point of data-collection on migrating salmon, will be operating this year after all.

Holly Carroll, the summer season Yukon area manager for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, confirmed in an email May 26 that the Pilot Station and St. Mary’s communities had given the department permission to run the project.

The fates of a number of salmon-monitoring projects were up the air earlier this year due to COVID-19 and concerns over whether it would be safe for researchers and other crew members to travel to remote communities in order to operate the projects.

The Pilot Station sonar is particularly important as it’s the first one to count salmon entering the Yukon River, giving officials the first indication of how big the season’s runs are going to be. That, in turn, influences decisions on how much harvest to allow, particularly on the Alaskan side of the border.

Carroll said the sonar crew is expected to arrive in Pilot Station on June 1, with number estimates “hopefully” becoming available between June 5 to 7.

Seven other projects in Alaska will not operate this season, including the Anvik River sonar and Gisasa River weir, but Carroll noted that most of them estimate escapement and “so should not affect the active inseason management of fishing.”

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

Salmon

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