Salmon stocks rise on Yukon River
Salmon numbers have risen on the Yukon River this year, making it a better-than-average summer chinkook run.
More than 50,000 salmon have made it through the Eagle, Alaska border station, meaning there are no restrictions for the First Nation Fishery in the Yukon.
At the Whitehorse fish ladder, the count has already surpassed last year's total, with more than 700 larger "king" salmon making their way through the fishway this month.
A limited recreational fishery has also been opened at Tatchun Creek for the first time in years.
Jesse Trerice, the manager of the Whitehorse Rapids Fishway, was encouraged by the numbers of salmon "in remarkable condition" after travelling nearly 3,000 kilometres on a journey up the Yukon River.
'Coming through steady'
"They've really arrived now. We had our first salmon arrive on Aug. 5, and they've been coming through steady ever since," Trerice said, adding that in one day, 192 salmon came through.
The hydro dam at Whitehorse is a main obstacle in the Yukon River, but a giant fish ladder or fishway offers them a route that takes them around the dam.
So far, longtime fishery monitors like the looks of this year's run.
"Bigger fish, no netmarks, a really excellent run, and male to female composition is excellent," said Laurence Vano, who manages the Whitehorse Fish Hatchery.
Still below historic levels
Denis D'Amours, the area superintendent for Fisheries and Oceans Canada, credited this year's healthy fish stocks to stiffer fishing restrictions in Alaska, such as a requirement to reduce the mesh size of nets. As a result, there have been returns of fish to Canada.
"As of two days ago, counts of fish at Eagle were 50,000 fish, so that certainly points to meeting our escarpment targets," D'Amours said.
Still, D'Amours added that although the numbers are an improvement, they still fall short of what they once were.
"We have to remind ourselves that this is happening on stock levels and still way below, substantially below, historic levels."