Thursday is the opening of the purse seine season at Amalga Harbor in Juneau. Commercial fishermen will be able to catch chum, released from the DIPAC hatchery.
The fleet is allowed to fish for profit because DIPAC has already made back the cost to hatch the salmon. Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist Dave Harris says he’s expecting a good turnout for the opening.
“My understanding is there’s about 30 boats anchored on the set right now,” he says. “And so I assume they’ll be at least that many. We’ve had 100 boats participate in these fisheries in the past.”
The opening is only six hours and starts at 9 a.m. Typically, in fisheries like this, seiners have about 15 hours to get their catch.
But Harris says it’s a high-use area for Juneau residents; hence, the short time frame.
“This will allow the commercial fleet the opportunity to take these fish and hopefully the impacts on other people’s enjoyment and whatnot will be minimized,” he says.
Hidden Falls Hatchery on Baranof Island isn’t allowing commercial fishing because of low returns.
Captain Sig Mathisen came all the way to Juneau from Petersburg on the Marathon to fish for Icicle Seafoods.
“Well, it would be lovely to go home with a load of fish. That’s for sure,” Mathisen says. “But we’re tempering our expectations because of what we’re seeing in the waters here.”
It’s estimated that the commercial fleets could earn anywhere from 45 to 55 cents a pound for the chum.