JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) – The state Department of Fish and Game has released the lowest forecasts for Southeast Alaska king salmon since records began in the 1970s.

KTOO Public Media in Juneau reported Tuesday that king numbers have been dwindling for years, but researchers don’t have a lot of answers as to why.

Federal fisheries biologist Jim Murphy says there is concern that the 2013 “blob” of warm water played a part because it wreaked havoc on salmon feeding in the open ocean. But Murphy says king numbers had begun decreasing long before 2013.

Other theories point to more predators in the ocean, but Murphy says he hasn’t seen any kings in predator stomachs in his 15 years sampling the ocean.

Officials are recommending listing kings as a stock of concern, which could trigger stronger restrictions.

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