Share story

KODIAK, Alaska (AP) — Low escapement levels of Kodiak sockeye salmon could prevent the collection of eggs during the early sockeye run, hatchery officials said.

Nearly 7,000 fish had passed through the Afognak River weir as of Monday. About 15,000 were counted at the same time last year, the Kodiak Daily Mirror reported .

About 23,000 fish were counted at the same time in 2016. The river’s escapement goal is 20,000 to 50,000 fish.

Afognak Lake is the brood source for sockeye raised at Pillar Creek Hatchery, which is operated by the Kodiak Regional Aquaculture Association.

If the escapement goal isn’t reached at Afognak River, then the eggs may need to be taken at Melina Lake, said Trent Dodson, the association’s director of production and operations.

“We have a plan B — we’re allowed to take eggs at Melina Lake,” Dodson said. “Or we can do a combination from both Melina and Afognak.”

Melina Lake could be ruled out as an option because of its low escapement of about 1,000 fish, Dodson said.

The association is planning to conduct survey over the next few weeks to get a better estimate of the returning fish at Melina Lake.

Depending on the results of those surveys, the association may need to revert to a plan C, which could mean halting the release of sockeye salmon for a year, Dodson said.

“If we don’t get any eggs this year from either Melina or Afognak, we’ll miss a year of release,” Dodson said. “With the sockeye program, it’s not necessarily the end of the world because of the overlapping age groups.”


This story has been corrected to show that low escapement levels could prevent the collection of eggs during the early sockeye run, not the entire year.


Information from: Kodiak (Alaska) Daily Mirror,