Unuk River map. (Alaska Department of Fish and Game image)

The subsistence eulachon fishery in the Burroughs Bay/Unuk River area has again been canceled due to expected low returns.

Ketchikan-Misty Fjords District Ranger Susan Howle announced the closure on Wednesday.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game also is closing state-managed eulachon fisheries in that area. Any eulachon caught there must be immediately returned to the water unharmed.

There has been no eulachon fishery in that area since 2005, when the run collapsed. The eulachon life cycle is typically a five-year period. Based on returns in the last three years, the announcement states that all eulachon returning to the area will be needed for spawning to rebuild populations. 

A type of smelt, eulachon are a small, oily fish, and are an important traditional food for Alaska Natives.