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    Salmon Chinook Runs Likely to be Smaller This Year Along Yukon River

    Chinook salmon runs have been lower in the Yukon River in recent years (Photo courtesy of Just Fun Facts)

    First Nations expressed their frustration at the annual Yukon River Panel this week in Whitehorse about the likelihood of small Chinook salmon runs in the Yukon River this year.

    First Nations  expressed their frustration at the annual Yukon River Panel this week in Whitehorse about the likelihood of small Chinook salmon runs in the Yukon River this year.

    Trondek Hwechin First Nation Citizen Simon Nagano says the harvesting restrictions on the fish in an attempt to replenish stocks haven't been working, saying numbers this year are similar if not smaller than last year.

    Teslin Tlingit Council Member and Panel Representative Duane Gastant Aucoin says there are multiple factors for the fishes decline.

    "Environmental factors in the Pacific Ocean, environmental factors in Alaska and the Yukon, years and years of overfishing... everything has come together for a perfect storm. That affects the Chinooks numbers and the Chinook run. It's not just the numbers, the fish are more unhealthy as well. The fish are smaller, there's more males than females and the production has gone down as well."

    Yukon Chinook salmon numbers have been on a sharp decline historically, with stocks plummeting from almost 160,000 Chinook runs in the 1990's to around 70,000 runs now. 

    Aucoin says the panel should be in Anchorage next time around so it will be easier for more First Nations to travel to the event and participate in the discussions.

    "The next time the Yukon River Panel is in Alaska, it really should be in Fairbanks because that's part of the Yukon River Watershed. That'll give the First Nations a lot more opportunity and make it easier for them to travel to the panel. That'll give us an opportunity to meet them and give us the opportunity to work together."

    Aucoin says having an independent salmon management plan for every First Nation as one way to restore the salmon stocks, although he says everyone has to work together and think in the long-term to get salmon stocks back at historic levels.

    The Yukon River Panel is a international regulator on salmon management in Canada and the United States, with the panel meeting twice annual to review salmon stocks and harvest numbers.

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