Because of low king salmon escapement, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game issued closures on the Anchor and Ninilchik Rivers and the Deep Creek drainage. Sport fishing for king salmon is closed on those streams from 12:01 a.m. Saturday, June 2, through 11:59 p.m. Sunday, July 15. Along with this closure, ADF&G closed sport fishing for king salmon (including catch-and-release) in marine waters within 1-mile of shore from Bluff Point to the Ninilchik River.
According to an ADF&G press release on May 31, as of May 29, only 90 king salmon have been counted using a combination of sonar and video weirs on the Anchor River. The sustainable escapement goal for Anchor River king salmon is 3,800-7,600 fish, and based on 2009-2014 average run timing ADF&G projects that goal will not be achieved. By this same date when runs were weak from 2009-2014, escapement averaged 301 king salmon. The final escapement for these years ranged between 2,497 in 2014 to 4,509 in 2012.
“During the weak run years, in river and nearby marine fisheries were managed conservatively using a combination of restrictions and closures,” said Area Management Biologist Carol Kerkvliet. “The Anchor River king salmon escapement failed to achieve the (sustainable escapement goal) from 2009-2011 and 2014 despite restrictions including closures. To minimize the shifting of effort due to conservation actions for the Anchor River, it is warranted to restrict sport fishing on the Ninilchik River and Deep Creek as well.”
Kerkvliet also noted that genetic analysis of the early run king salmon harvest north of Bluff Point shows from 10 to 25 percent of the salmon originated from Cook Inlet streams. North of Bluff Point, more maturing king salmon tend to be harvested near shore that immature or non-local kings.
“From 1996-2002 and 2014-2017, the king salmon harvest north of Bluff Point more than 1 mile from shore was primarily comprised of outside Cook Inlet stocks.,” she said in the release. “Therefore, it is justified to prohibit retention of king salmon in salt waters within 1 mile of shore while these locally spawning king salmon migrate through the area and into fresh water.”