Alaska Fish & Wildlife News
February 2005

What are Escapement Goals?

By Amy Carroll
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So many fish crowded the river that many of the Alagnak River sockeye died without even spawning.

Escapement is the number of fish allowed to escape the fishery and spawn. There are several types of escapement goals.

A biological escapement goal is the number of salmon in a particular stock that ADF&G has determined should be allowed to escape the fishery to spawn to achieve the maximum sustained yield (human use). This determination is based on biological information about the fish stock in question. Biological escapement goals are set by ADF&G.

An optimum escapement goal allows for sustainable runs based on biological needs of the stock and ensures healthy returns for commercial, sport, subsistence, cost-recovery, and personal use harvests. Optimum escapement goals are set by the Board of Fisheries.

A sustainable escapement goal is an estimate based on historical performance and other factors known to conserve stock over a five to 10 year period. It is used in situations where a biological escapement goal cannot be estimated due to the absence of a stock-specific catch estimate. The sustainable escapement goal is the primary management objective for the escapement, unless an optimal escapement or inriver run goal has been adopted by the board, and is developed by ADF&G from the best available biological information, taking into account data uncertainty.

Based on the 2005 preliminary forecast for Bristol Bay salmon, in order to meet the biological escapement goals in each of the three rivers that feed into the Naknak–Kvichak district in 2005, fisheries would need to catch 15% of the Kvichak River stock, 96% of the Alagnak River stock, and 70% of the Naknek River stock. However, the commercial harvest takes place in areas where all these streams occur. Because the stocks co-mingle in the fishery area, it is difficult to regulate in order to achieve those percentages.

What is a stock of “Management Concern?”

This is a concern arising from a chronic inability, despite the use of specific management measures, to maintain escapement for a stock within the bounds of the sustainable escapement goals, biological escapement goals, optimum escapement goals, or other specified management objectives for the fishery. “Chronic inability” means the continuing or anticipated inability to meet escapement thresholds over a four to five year period, which is roughly equivalent to the generation time of most salmon species.”

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