Sustainability is written into the Alaska State Constitution.

To us, sustainability is more than a trend—it’s an investment in our
future. The fishing families of south-central Alaska are independent, small business owners dedicated to the long-term sustainability of salmon stocks, the environment and their way of life. Our passion not only preserves our livelihood but also ensures abundance for future generations.


Given the vastness of the state of Alaska, Alaska Department of Fish and
Game biologists use several methods to assess salmon populations. Biologists collect and analyze age, sex, weight and length data from salmon to create models that help forecast runs in coming seasons. They monitor harvest trends closely, comparing number of fish caught to historical trends. They also use aerial surveys and other tools to monitor salmon runs. In the Copper River district, the most critical tool is the Miles Lake sonar.

The Copper River drainage system extends about 300 miles from its mountain
headwaters to the vast Gulf of Alaska. The ecosystem is rugged and the waters are cold, rapid and steep. Due to the large drainage area and turbid conditions, the Copper River carries the highest silt load of any river in Alaska. All of these conditions make the Miles Lake sonar, four sophisticated devices that use sound waves to locate fish traveling underwater, essential to management of the Copper River salmon fishery.

Throughout the season, biologists compare daily sonar counts to the count
needed to achieve the in-river escapement goal. If counts are near expected and other indicators suggest the salmon run is strong, ADF&G announces a commercial fishery opener within the coming days. If counts are below expected and other indicators are unfavorable, the commercial fishery remains closed until more salmon make it upriver.

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