Fish board rejects Taku River fishery changes

The braided channels of the lower Taku River, east of Juneau. Photo courtesy AK Department of Fish and Game.

Sport anglers will not get to fish for king salmon in the Taku River. And personal-use fishermen won’t be able to use dipnets or have a longer sockeye season.

The state Board of Fisheries rejected several requests to change Taku River fishing during its meeting in Ketchikan. The salmon-rich waterway, east of Juneau, runs from British Columbia to Taku Inlet.

The sport Chinook fishery was proposed by the Taku Users Group, representing riverbank cabin-owners. Fish and Game Department staff warned it could violate an international agreement governing fisheries from Oregon to Alaska.

Juneau board member Bill Brown spoke in opposition.

“It flies in the face of the history we have about fresh water salmon fishing,” Brown said. “Also, we have a problem with treaty fish. That’s an ugly nightmare we don’t want to open yet again.”

Some of the same objections came up with other proposals from the Taku Users Group.

One would have extended the personal-use fishery from mid-June through August to coincide with a gillnet opening. Another would have increased the household bag limit based on the number of family members.

Yet another would have allowed personal-use dip nets in the river, which Juneau residents access by boat.

Talkeetna board member Tom Kluberton said it would be popular.

“I think we would unleash a tremendous dip net fishery from boats down that way. That would offer much more opportunity to go and try for this harvest,” Kluberton said.

But other concerns, including salmon treaty implications, led the board to vote the proposal down.

It also rejected an Alaska Trollers Association plan to increase access to Taku River kings. Trollers proposed lengthening openings and changing how they are determined. Now, they’re tied to the gillnet fishery, which has a larger harvest.

Kodiak Board member Sue Jeffrey said she understands trollers want an equitable share. But she said the plan would create more conflicts.

“This is an area where we should just back off for now and let the rebuilding continue. So I’m leaning away from supporting this,” Jeffrey said.

Like other Taku River proposals, it failed on a unanimous vote.

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