Walrus prompt Ugashik boundary change for Bristol Bay fishery

Jun 10, 2016

Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game, and US Fish and Wildlife Service, believe moving north line one mile south will offer buffer zone for walrus hauled out at Cape Greig.

Walrus hauled out at Cape Greig, north of Ugashik Bay. Photo taken May 19th by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Credit Brett Nigus

KDLG:  The Dept. of Fish and Game said Friday that it will be moving the north boundary of the Ugashik commercial fishing district approximately one mile south on account of the walrus hauled out at Cape Greig.

"Well the reasoning is that the animals are there, and there are lots of federal regulations that require certain distances be kept from endangering threatened species. That's the short story," said area management biologist Paul Salomone Friday morning. "We have to maintain some distance between us and them."

Credit Courtesy WL

The walrus showed up at Cape Greig, 8 miles north of Ugashik Bay, this spring. Bristol Bay has several other main haulouts used by male Pacific walrus during the summer, including the iconic spot at Round Island. Residents and pilots flying the Peninsula coast this spring noticed the walrus, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service staff at the nearby refuge office in King Salmon documented them by aerial survey.

Their location is about a half mile north of the Ugashik district boundary's north line, which quickly prompted concern about the proximity to the fishery and its many vessels and nets.

Credit ADF&G

According to an ADF&G release Friday, on Monday at 9:00 a.m. the new northern line of the Ugashik District will be defined by the following points:

  • The northeastern (onshore) corner will be located at 57o 42.69’ N by 157o 42.30’ W.
  • The northwestern (offshore) corner will be located at 57o 42.69’ N by 157o 44.47’ W.

"All vessels transiting the area are asked to maintain one nautical- mile of distance from the haul out when traveling to or from the Ugashik District," the Department wrote.

Salomone said he expects to hear from the Ugashik and Egegik fleet this weekend, which is why the Department put the announcement out Friday ahead the change going into effect Monday.

Reach the author at dave@kdlg.org or 907-842-5281.

Credit courtesy WL

Cape Greig walrus, May 19.
Credit Brett Nigus, USFWS