Commercial Fishing in the Yukon River Drainage
There have been examples of commercial fishing in the drainage that might resemble what most persons outside of the fishery would call commercial fishing. These have existed for limited amounts of times in specific sections of the river. Some lower Yukon fishermen experienced this years ago for a fair stretch of time. Some commercial roe fishermen in the middle Yukon got a piece of this action also. Upper Yukon fishers had a taste of it before quotas were watched closely and the subsistence egg fishing ban was instituted and years later enforced. Presently there is no commercial fishing in the drainage that I would say supports itself. Were it not for the fact these same fishers had fish to put up for their extended families or dogs to feed, keeping them on the river, it would be hard for anyone to justify the effort and costs of today’s commercial fishing. We see this every day with the dramatic reduction, in such a short period of years, of active fish camps, particularly in the middle and upper Yukon River. Even with the runs coming back, conservative management fishing (needed till we insure runs are consistently strong), and the loss of markets during the past run failure years have held back a strong commercial in the lower river. This last year the average lower river fisherman made just over $3000 before expenses were figured in.
The recent interpretations and enforcement of the State of Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation regulations regarding roe fishing and State sponsoring of southeast Alaska hatcheries (using millions of dollars of taxpayer money and the constant relaxation of the wanton waste laws) has eliminated much of the potential commercial benefit middle and upper Yukon fishers might otherwise see from the latest strong chum runs.
What commercial there is left however does help immensely with people’s life on the river. That few hundred or few thousand dollars is what makes the difference for many fish camps on the river. On the river you hear people say commercial is subsistence and this is why.
Commercial Fishing Photos from this area
click on to enlarge