Chinook Salmon Management and Research


The Alaska State Constitution establishes, as state policy, the development and use of replenishable resources, in accordance with the principle of sustained yield, for the maximum benefit of the people of the state. In order to implement this policy for the fisheries resources of the state, the Alaska Legislature created the Alaska Board of Fisheries (BOF) and the ADF&G.

The BOF was given the responsibility to establish regulations guiding the conservation and development of the state’s fisheries resources, including the distribution of benefits among subsistence, commercial, recreational, and personal uses. The ADF&G was given the responsibility to implement the BOF’s regulations and management plans through the scientific management of the state’s fisheries resources. Scientific and technical advice is also provided by the ADF&G to the BOF during its rule-making process. The separation of rule-making and inseason management responsibilities between these two entities is generally regarded as contributing to the success of Alaska’s fisheries management system.

The division’s fishery management activities fall into two categories: inseason management and applied science. For inseason management, the division deploys a cadre of fishery managers near the fisheries. These individuals have broad authority to open and close fisheries based on their professional judgment, the most current biological data from field projects, and fishery performance. Research biologists and other specialists conduct applied research in close cooperation with the fishery managers. The purpose of the division’s research shop is to ensure that the management of Alaska’s fisheries resources is conducted in accordance with the sustained yield principle and that managers have the technical support they need to ensure that fisheries are managed according to sound scientific principles and utilizing the best available biological data. The division works closely with the Division of Sport Fisheries in the conduct of both management and research activities.

The Pacific Salmon Treaty provides harvest sharing arrangements that guide fisheries. In 1985 the United States and Canada agreed to cooperate in the management, research and enhancement of Pacific salmon stocks of mutual concern by ratifying the Pacific Salmon Treaty. The Pacific Salmon Commission is an international decision-making organization, composed of four Commissioners (and four alternates) from the United States and Canada. This body handles ongoing administration of the Pacific Salmon Treaty through advice from four regional Panels of fisheries experts. Scientific advice on salmon populations and appropriate fishery controls comes from several joint technical committees of salmon scientists from each country.


Research plays an important role in promoting an understanding of wildlife populations, and this knowledge is essential for the establishment of effective management strategies. A variety of research is conducted each year throughout the state that explores a variety of topics such has population dynamics, genetics, life histories, species interactions, wildlife monitoring technologies, and stock structure. Such projects are often conducted in collaboration with university, federal and international institutions. The results of these works are peer-reviewed and presented as written articles as well as presented at scientific conferences and meetings throughout the world.

"NAPA North to Alaska" feature - smolt study on the Unalakleet River LRV"

Unalakleet smolt research. A general overview about the smolt study on the Unalakleet River in 2011. We briefly talk about the use of the screw trap, how the smolt are analyzed, and why the study is important. About 6 minutes. Produced by Dan Foster - ZONK! Productions Inc. and segment used with permission.