If action isn't taken now, the future of king salmon fishing is in a dire situation.
Those are the words of Travis Ellison, Kuskokwim Area Management Biologist for Alaska State Fish and Game. Three out of the past four years have set records for the lowest runs seen since 1976.
"If we don't cut back on subsistence and we don't make our escapement goals, it will get pretty dire," he said. "The one thing for sure is if we don't meet our goals this problem can just get worse and worse."
Preliminary plans recommended this month by the Kuskokwim Salmon Management Working Group are focused on conservation. Group members voted on closing king salmon sport fishing, closing tributary subsistence fishing from June 1 to July 25, managing or delaying the commercial fishery to ensure there is no significant impact on the salmon run as a result of incidental harvest, restricting fishers to six-inch or less mesh-sized nets once chum and sockeye are abundant and providing more fishing opportunity for the upper river. The group also voted to give a short period of opportunity to allow people to have the "first taste of the season."