The Early-run Kenai River king salmon count for fish larger than 34 inches (big fish) through Friday, June 15 was 2,098. In normal run timing, June 15 marks the two-third date for big fish passage. The minimum escapement goal for KR early-run kings is 3,900 to 6,600 big fish (larger than 34 inches). In normal run timing, the projected total escapement is 3,100 and is more than twenty percent less than the minimum target escapement goal.
The current management plan directs that the sport fishery shall be closed to the taking of king salmon if the inseason inriver run projection is below the lower end of the optimal escapement goal. With more than 67 percent of the run return at this point in a normal run timing (and one or two days late in run timing not being statistically meaningful at this point), the most probable final run projection for early Kenai River kings is now BELOW the minimum escapement goal of 3,900 fish larger than 34 inches.
We can expect in the near future that the KR early-run king salmon fishery for 2018 to see closure in the next week.
Early-run Kenai River king salmon counts are tracking below the minimum requirements for meeting the minimum escapement goal of 3,900 fish larger than 34 inches, at the 67 percent mark of the return at normal run timing. At this point in the run, whether the run is one or two days late does not alter the projection of not meeting the minimum escapement goal.
As this graph shows, the red line of the projected end of season final escapement of KR early-run kings is now at 3,000, close to 25 percent less than the minimum escapement goal for fish larger than 34 inches.
We can expect that at this point in the run that the Alaska Department of Fish and Game will declare additional emergency orders in the next week, most likely closure of the KR early-run king salmon fishery through June 30.