FAIRBANKS (AP) — Despite a below-average overall run, the Yukon River king salmon population had the highest number of chinooks make it across the border toward their Canadian spawning grounds in 10 years.
About 83,000 fish went across the border this year, according to The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.
An international treaty mandates that at least 42,500 chinooks must get to Canada, but Alaska fishery managers have only managed that goal in two of the past four years.
Between 118,000 and 140,000 chinooks were projected to enter the Yukon this year. Alaska Department of Fish and Game officials said it took severe chinook salmon restricts to get most of that run to Canada.
Alaska Department of Fish and Game officials expect this news is good for the fall chum salmon run, which is expected to reach its pre-season Yukon River estimate of more than 700,000 fish.
As a result of the healthy population, many areas in the middle and upper Yukon have seen non-stop subsistence chum fishing openings this month, which are supposed to offset the limits on chinook fishing earlier this summer.
The only area not seeing subsistence fishing is the Porcupine River, where fishing will close Saturday. In three of the past five years, escapement goals to Canada from Porcupine tributaries have not been met.
“The Porcupine is a different thing — it chronically isn’t doing well,” said Fish and Game Fall Season Area Management Biologist Jeff Estensen. “I expect no problems with the fall run.”