The King Fishery should be CLOSED period.
Dear "Stop the Madness". You simply have no idea what you are talking about. You hear someone mumble that kings are in trouble and you go into "auto rant & rave mode". Your knee jerk reaction of just totally closing the Kenai River to resolve our statewide king problems would have zero results in helping our kings. Our king problem is much larger than any kind of Kenai River only "Band-Aid solution". In other words you could close the Kenai River for ten years and ten years from now we would still have the same king problem we have today. The reason you do not see this is because you do not understand the king problem you are attempting to address.
Our statewide king problem began back in the late 1990's as the size of our kings began to reduce. This reduction wasn't much so nobody noticed it. By 2000 some began to notice the king escapement reductions but most still could not believe it was being actually caused by SOMETHING. By 2002 the Alaska Board of Fish and the public was aware of the growing problem but like you they assumed that it was a local single river or stream problem that could be corrected with public freshwater restrictions. Few knew at that time that our Alaska Commercial Crabber Fleet had basically wiped out our crab and was now refitting their boats to wipe out our pollock. This Commercial Pollock Fleet then began catching 1 - 2 million tons of pollock per year. Along with the pollock these trawlers by-catch killed and dumped about 4 adult kings per ton. That comes down to around 4 million adult kings killed and dumped ANNUALLY from about 1990 to 2007. For about 20 years these commercial fisheries operated with the ability to killed and dumped MILLIONS of adult kings, (20 years of destruction takes about 20 years to recover) This kind of industrial king destruction could not go on for long without some finally noticing. By 2007 many did notice and some restrictions were finally placed on the commercial pollock fleet and many down-line users began to be closed down as our kings began visibly disappearing statewide in mass.
Commercial King By-Catch Death
From the 1950 - 1960 Commercial Pollock Fishing was non-existent because pollock populations had been commercially wiped out prior to that but that changed as pollock
populations again swelled by 1965. As soon as Commercial Pollock Fisheries again spotted this they immediately greatly expanded their fishing efforts from 1965 to 1970 and caught about 2,000,000 metric tons of pollock annually until they again killed off the fishery causing that harvest to crash again back down to around 1,000,000 metric tons annually. Commercial harvest levels remained around 1,000,000 metric tons annually until around 1998 when our pollock populations again blossomed thus causing our commercial pollock fishermen to again take notice. Pollock catches then went up to 1,400,000 metric tons annually until about 2008 when commercial fisheries again wiped out these pollock populations back down to the previous 1,000,000 metric tons annually again. After this decade of over fishing, by 2008 pollock production then began a general downward nose dive because of the heavy commercial over-fishing. At the same time the whole sale price of pollock then shot through the roof as our Pacific Pollock production did not rebound and continues to crash to this day. How doe's this all affect king salmon in the Cook Inlet area? Our Commercial Fisheries research has proved that there are approximately four king salmon by-catch killed and thrown over-board within each metric ton of pollock harvest. At current pollock harvest levels this would result in a king salmon by-catch of about 4,000,000 adult king salmon annually. Our North Pacific Fisheries Management Council, NPFMC has set annual trawler by-catch kill caps on king salmon at 25,000 in the Gulf of Alaska and 60,000 in the Bering Sea. This has resulted in an annual 85,000 king by-catch cap on a possible 4,000,000 king salmon by-catch killing rate. We are forced to use our imagination as to where the other 3,915,000 possible dead adult kings are at each year. The point here is that it is not currently possible to allow a 1 - 2 million ton annual pollock harvest without dramatically affecting the ocean marine environment surrounding those pollock.
We have adult kings feeding on herring and sardines but juvenile kings (less than 20 inches) mainly feed on crab larvae that are a quarter inch and longer. With most of our crab resource currently destroyed by our commercial crabber fleet there is currently a greatly reduced amount of crab larvae available for our juvenile kings.
We have an ADF&G that spends millions of taxpayer dollars collecting BILLIONS of sockeye eggs: hatches them out and then releases them for commercial salmon fisheries to later catch and sell. These billions of EXTRA sockeye feed mainly on crab larvae which are less than a quarter inch in length, which means they are consumed BEFORE juvenile kings can even see them. So this means that taxpayer dollars are funding Juvenal king starvation along with hundreds of thousands of extra hours of commercial gill net fishing thus resulting in millions of extra adult kings being intercepted before reaching their home rivers and streams.
We have a commercial pollock fleet destroying about 4,000.000 of our adult kings annually while under an 85,000 maximum king by-catch quota. This all comes down to our commercial fisheries destroying our crab resource thereby destroying our juvenile kings. Then our ADF&G comes in and funds hatchery programs that work to remove juvenile king feed from the ocean while at the same time providing many extra hours of commercial fishing time which helps intercept millions more returning adult kings that somehow survive the commercial pollock and crab resource destruction.
Along with the above destruction we have a small Kenai River sport fishery that catches maybe 5 - 10 % of Kenai River kings that have escaped the above impacts and destruction's. A fully functional fishery allows around 90 - 95% of them to spawn. So out of all these king impacts you select only the removal of a single hook and release king fishery on only the Kenai River? Even a fully functional Kenai River king fishery would only impact the resource by maybe 10% but you are selecting only the hook and release fishery? This H & R fishery can only account for at the most a half percent of the total possible 10% impact therefore you are actually suggesting that after all the above commercial king destruction, you then select only the removal of the barb-less hook and release fishery on one river to solve a statewide king problem?
It is obvious that you have no idea what you are talking about. Our statewide king problem is huge. You cannot address this issue by placing a single Band-Aid on a single river. You need to address the millions of kings that were slaughtered between 1990 - 2007. You need to address the State of Alaska allowing our commercial fisheries to destroy our crab resource. You need to address the State of Alaska funding our ADF&G stocking billions of EXTRA sockeye salmon that consume the feed that juvenile kings would have fed on. Instead those kings will stave to death at sea. You need to address the State of Alaska allowing commercial fisheries to catch and sell most of our returning king salmon. You need to start seeing the big picture instead of the one that has ZERO chances of actually addressing our statewide king salmon problem.
Our king problem has not been created by some kind of magically global warming head game. This problem is the direct results of state and federal government fisheries mismanagement. Our NPFMC could have required screens on all pollock trawlers to prevent them from by-catching king salmon but they decided that selling more McDonald's fish sandwiches was more important. Our ADF&G could have required all commercial gill nets to screen out king salmon but they decided that would cost to many commercial fisheries and ADF&G jobs. The same happens with our ADF&G funding programs that pump sockeye populations well above their natural ratios. The additional sockeye help create commercial fisheries and ADF&G jobs, thus insuring that the political forces that funded them into power yesterday are around tomorrow. So as you can see our king problem today basically come down to our state and federal government making fisheries management choices that place a higher priority on commercial fisheries related jobs than king salmon returning to their home rivers and streams.
Closing the Kenai River to solve a statewide fisheries management problem is like standing in a rain storm while claiming that you can stop the rain with an umbrella. Your claim is totally faults and only the most uninformed reader will actually believe that a "local Band-Aid solution" can solve a non-local fisheries management problem.
So you see "The Madness" is not in some "in river test net/tagging operation" or a "barb-less hook and release issue" or even a "set net ban initiative". The madness is within our own state and federal government creating a king salmon problem with its right hand and then attempting to fix that problem with its left hand, now that's the real madness.
Totally agree with the above comment. What kind of genius does it take that if the returning run of Kenai River Kings is so low, so in trouble that it requires ADF&G to issue an EO that restricts the fishery to "Catch and Release", then isn't it in such bad shape that it should be closed PERIOD!!! The proof is that all of these EO's have always been followed by another EO to close the fishery. Barbless hooks isn't even relevant. The question is about as ridiculous as the actions of the ADF&G. It's just an excuse to allow the ESSN boys have a chance to kill a few thousand more with an opening. Ridiculous!! Just can't wait for the voters to sound off in 2016 with the Set Net Ban Initiative. And while your at it, quit killing King Salmon with your in river test net/tagging operation. At a 40% kill rate it is totally outrageous and a waste of the taxpayers money. ADF&G has been doing this in river test net operation for over a decade and it has not helped the Kenai River King Salmon one bit, just killed an outrageous number of Kings over the years for no real reason. If the public killed Kings at that rate they would be put in prison. Stop the Madness!
The commercial fishery will close everywhere eventually. The sports industry is all that will be left. The resource will die off anyway. No number or amount of Kings will be enough. What few that are left will become the province of those with enough money to catch them.
There should never be a catch and release season on Kings!
They are much too fragile for this type of fore-play. They fight too hard and sustain too much injury to live and spawn
naturally after being beat-up from guide after guide. If the numbers are too low to allow anything caught to be kept-then they should close the fishery!!! "NO CATCH & RELEASE"
You have no idea what is happening to kings on the Kenai River, what injuries? what fighting to hard? Have you been out on the Kenai River lately? There is NOBODY fishing kings on the Kenai River.
There would normally be 500 boats between the Soldotna bridge and Eagle Rock and you might count one or two. That is NOTHING. Everyone is fishing reds and silvers, so get off the catch and release issue because it is not even happening. So if preventing catch and release is a meaningless maneuver which will accomplish NOTHING, let's do it anyway! RIGHT! so we can make-believe that we are actually doing something about our statewide king problem. This is what people did back in 2002 when we had a chance to address this issue but no, people like ras-bob stood up and shouted from the tree tops that Band-Aid solutions on one river out of hundreds will somehow fix the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea, thus making millions of kings to suddenly appear out of a vacuum. You need to get real rasbob, fixing one or two rivers in Alaska will NOT undo what our federal and state bureaucrat fisheries managers have done to our kings. What are you trying to do make-believe a resource?
Right let's just close down the Kenai, close down the gill nets, close down subsistence fishing, close dip netting, close Soldotna and Kenai along with Anchorage. These are all better alternatives to actually using our brains and thinking. Rather than fix a broken appliance we should just unplug it watch it fix itself. How could anyone be so resource blind?
Your "do nothing shut-down plan" will result in our kings returning twenty to thirty years from now, is that your plan? Our kings back in 2045? Really? That's when our kings will come back with your H&R ban.
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