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Yukon First Nations want Alaska salmon fishing closed

CBC News

Yukon First Nations have repeated their call for Alaskans to stop fishing Chinook salmon until stocks can recover in the Yukon River.

Teslin Tlingit Chief Carl Sidney made the plea this week at salmon management talks in Whitehorse. The international Yukon River Salmon panel will wrap up a week of meetings this afternoon with a closed door planning session to determine a management plan for the 2014 Chinook salmon run.

Alaskan officials say they have enforced harvest cutbacks on their side of the border. Sidney, a former board member, commends recent cutbacks imposed in some Alaskan communities, but says a complete shutdown is required for the fishery to recover.

"There have been families and communities taking drastic measures but not everybody,” Sidney says. "When 106,000 salmon come into the mouth of the Yukon River and only 30,000 fish come across the Yukon border, where are the other 60,000-70,000? I know there are other tributaries where they go but where are the others?”

Alaskan delegates like Andy Bassich say they understand Sidney's concern.

"It's not like there isn't an effort, there's a lot of effort and a lot of concern," Bassich says.

But Sidney maintains the Chinook fishery needs to be shut down completely, until numbers recover.

"These measures that are in place now are not enough, never mind gearing down or using fish wheels or dip nets,” Sidney says. “We haven't fished period."

The 2013 Chinook run was among the worst on record, failing again to meet treaty mandated quotas into Canada.

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