August 20, 2009

King salmon undercounted on the Yukon

A sonar station that counts salmon traveling up the Yukon River in Alaska malfunctioned this year, resulting in a smaller allowed catch, officials say.

Russ Holder, federal fisheries manager for the Yukon, said the king salmon season looked like one of the poorest we've ever had, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

In hindsight, it doesn't look as poor as those numbers indicated to us, he said.

Because of the lower catch, enough fish got as far as the Canadian section of the river to fulfill a treaty on the salmon run for the first time in three years, officials said. But it also meant fishermen on the lower river lost income at a time when they are economically battered.

Terrible. Horrible. There's no word that explains my frustration, said Tim Andrew of the Association of Village Council Presidents, an alliance of 56 native villages in the Yukon watershed.

Federal regulators said flooding during this year's ice breakup caused the sonar problem.