A chinook salmon at the fish ladder in Whitehorse on Aug. 12, 2019. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Yukon Salmon Sub-Committee recommends halt on fishing for Chinook

The Yukon Salmon Sub-Committee is recommending the complete cessation of fishing for Chinook salmon this year on the Yukon River.

The recommendation, which the organization made public via a press release on Aug. 11, comes about a week after it recommended Yukon First Nations take “additional measures” to conserve Chinook following poor counts at the sonar station near the Canada-U.S. border.

“The in-season counts from Eagle Sonar, located in Alaska near the Yukon border, indicate that we are not going to meet, and may not approach, the spawning escapement goal minimum of 42,500 Chinook,” the press release states.

“As such, the Yukon Salmon Sub-Committee has recommended that all First Nations on the Yukon River and its tributaries cease fishing for Chinook salmon, in 2020.”

About 161,730 Chinook salmon were counted entering the Yukon River from the Bering Sea this year.

However, as of Aug. 12, only 29,572 fish had been counted at Eagle, the lowest count to date since the sonar began operation in 2005.

Some officials had expressed hope earlier in the summer that the run was simply late and that more fish would show up later in the season. However, that hope appears to have not manifested, and it’s now very unlikely that the desired number of fish will make it to their Canadian spawning grounds.

The spawning escapement goal was not met last season either.

Champagne and Asihihik First Nations announced support for the recommendation in a press release on Aug. 14, closing Chinook fishing on all tributaries of the Yukon River within CAFN traditional territory including the Takhini River.

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