The Copper River personal use fishery is managed under direction of the Copper River Personal Use Dip Net Salmon Fishery Management Plan (5 AAC 77.591). The plan establishes the season from June 7 through September 30, and directs the department to establish weekly periods based on Miles Lake sonar counts.
The 2018 sockeye salmon run to the Copper River appears to be much weaker than expected and is the 8th lowest count for this date since 1978. As of June 12, a total of 178,693 salmon were counted past the Miles Lake sonar. The preseason projection for this date was 276,899 salmon, which is 98,206 salmon or 35% fewer than expected. Daily sonar counts continue to lag behind projected passage and it is unlikely that the lower bound Copper River sockeye salmon escapement goal would be achieved without closing the personal use fishery. As a result, the Chitina Subdistrict personal use dip net salmon fishery will be closed until further notice.
The department will continue to monitor the run closely, and if sonar passage improves, may reopen the fishery if the escapement goal will be achieved and surplus salmon are available for harvest. Regardless of sonar passage, the Chitina Subdistrict personal use fishery will reopen by regulation beginning September 1.
The Glennallen Subdistrict subsistence fishery is not restricted at this time. Please be advised that households may acquire either a Chitina Subdistrict personal use dip net permit or a Glennallen Subdistrict subsistence permit, but may not have both in a single year. Residents who have already purchased a Chitina Subdistrict personal use permit and have not fished it, may exchange the permit for a Glennallen Subdistrict subsistence permit only within 3 calendar days of the original permit purchase. Since the Chitina Subdistrict personal use fishery is open by regulation beginning September 1 and the fishery may still be reopened if sonar passage improves, those permits do not qualify for a refund .
Information regarding the fishery can be found at the ADF&G web site: http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=PersonalUsebyAreaInteriorChitina.main. This site provides information regarding the Upper Copper River fisheries including: fishery descriptions and summaries, maps of the subdistricts, a listing of vendors that carry the permits, and links to the sonar numbers and fishing schedule emergency orders.
Any changes on the status of this fishery will be announced on the Chitina Fishery information line at 822-5224 (Glennallen), 459-7382 (Fairbanks), and 267-2511 (Anchorage). Please contact an information phone line prior to planning your trip to Chitina to ensure that the fishery will be open when you arrive. If you have any questions regarding the Chitina Subdistrict personal use fishery, please contact the ADF&G office in Glennallen at (907) 822-3309.
Mark Sommerville, UCUS Area Management Biologist