ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Kenai and Kasilof River king salmon fishing will close Thursday, with closures also affecting parts of Cook Inlet, in the latest and most drastic example of numerous fishing restrictions imposed by state officials this year to protect low salmon runs.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game says the Kenai River closure, which will go into effect with the others at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, was triggered by projections that show fewer than a threshold number of 17,800 kings will escape the fishery this year. About 40 percent of this year’s run of kings was complete as of Monday.
“Anglers are advised this closure prohibits all sport fishing for king salmon, including catch-and-release fishing,” biologists wrote. “King salmon may not be retained or possessed; king salmon caught while fishing for other species may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately.”
The threshold also triggers a closure of sport fishing for kings in salt waters of Cook Inlet north of Bluff Point’s latitude, which is set to last through July 31.
Tuesday’s closures prompted Fish and Game to completely close the Kasilof River to fishing for kings effective Thursday through July 31. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has closed the Kasilof’s federal subsistence fishery for kings from Thursday through Aug. 15.
State biologists say the Kasilof closure is necessary to protect the river from anticipated overfishing in response to the Kenai and Cook Inlet restrictions.