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Further restrictions announced for Kenai, Kasilof river kings

Emergency orders close Kenai river for king fishing, prohibit bait during late run

Posted: June 19, 2012 - 12:31pm  |  Updated: June 20, 2012 - 12:37pm
  Photo by M. Scott Moon
Photo by M. Scott Moon

 

The Kenai River, from its mouth upstream to Skilak Lake, will be closed to king salmon fishing beginning Friday through the end of the early run on June 30 as the Alaska Department of Fish and game tries to meet its minimum escapement goal.

According to Fish and Game, preliminary indicators of the run show that it may be the lowest on record for the department.

When the king salmon late run begins July 1, bait and scent will be prohibited.

According to a media release, the department cannot justify "additional mortality associated with catch-and-release fishing" given the low abundance of kings.

The emergency order also prohibits all targeted sport fishing for king salmon, including catch-and-release fishing, in the waters of the Kenai River from the Fish and Game marker about 300 yards downstream of the mouth of Slikok creek, upstream to the outlet of Skilak Lake, and in the Moose River from its confluence with the Kenai River upstream to the northernmost edge of the Sterling Highway Bridge beginning July 1 through July 14. King salmon may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately.

The use of bait is prohibited during the late run, beginning July 1 from the mouth of the Kenai River to the Fish and Game marker located at the outlet of Skilak Lake and in the Moose River from its junction with the Kenai River upstream to the northernmost edge of the Sterling Highway Bridge. Only one, unbaited single-hook, artificial lure may be used.

These restrictions supercede the emergency orders issued last week which restricted the Kenai River to catch-and-release and trophy king salmon fishing.

In addition, the Kasilof River fishery is still restricted to the hatchery-reared king harvest only and an additional ban on the use of bait and multiple hooks will go into effect on Friday through June 30.

According to the media release the restriction is "to minimize effects of conservation actions for the Kenai River on the department's ability to achieve adequate escapement into Crooked Creek."

 

Editors Note: This article was corrected to add the entire geographic area on the Kenai river that are prohibited to king salmon fishing.

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northernlights
220
Points
northernlights 06/19/12 - 02:00 pm
1
0
close it all down

Two kings returned to slykok river last year!! Thats right just two. The kenai river is fished out, when you have hundreds of guides and locals, and all of those from anchorage fishing the holes over and over, the river gets depleted. Its common sense, you dont need biologists and engineers to come up with that idea. the only reason theres a big fight is money. to bad, get another job, leave the rivers alone and let the fish stock become healthy again. Why in the world wait until they are gone to do something about it. Slykok used to have a lot of natural kings return, however the mouth of it is right by college hole a famous place to fish, and they are now depleted. Try to stop the guides from fishing and you get hell thrown at you. We are not volunteers to watch the rivers, take care and educate people on preserving the riverbanks, taking out garbage and line left, disposing of fish carcasses correctly. The brown bears in Cooperlanding have been tamed by people giving them thier fish. Changes have to be made. Education and then those who care and are not motivated by money.

just_john
6
Points
just_john 06/19/12 - 02:35 pm
0
1
I agree somewhat.....

So the first thing the state should do is revoke all out of state guide Licenses, then limit the commercial guys by catch, all rivers are hurting in south central, and I think it from too many guides, overfishing, Killing trophy fish, and Commercial catch....ohh well maybe the tourist will leave!!!

jbohren
8
Points
jbohren 06/19/12 - 06:17 pm
0
1
Who needs them

Lets not stop there. Dipnetting allowed for Peninsula residents only. Close Fred Meyer, Trustworthy Hardware, and any other business that depend on tourists from Los Anchorage.

CFFL
83
Points
CFFL 06/19/12 - 09:17 pm
2
0
TOO Many

Why are there not enough kings in the Kenai river?? Where do we even start?

Well lets think right now there is no limit to the number of guides which can operate on the kenai river. Have we already forgot what has happened in Homer with the halibut fishery when there was no limit to the amouint of guides operating down there?? Catching a descent size halibut which was fairly commonplace 10 years ago is now nearly impossible. If we just sit back and allow the in river user groups to continue growing at the rate that they are now there will be no kings left at all.The guide fishery needs to go limited entry only.

The dipnet fishery is also puttin a big strain on the King runs. Last year alone there were 30,000 + dip permits turned in, not to mention the people that dip without ever getting or turning in a permit. Everyone knows there are significant amounts of kings being dipped but not reported because there is absolutely zero enforcement or check stations to keep people honest. The dip fishery should be returned to what it was intended for in 1996, an overflow fishery to be opened once escapement goal have been met.

Just because the population of the state along with the number of in river users continues to grow does not mean that the river automatically produces more fish.

It is pretty simple when there are not enough fish to reach minimum escapement goal you restrict the fishery.

kenai-king
255
Points
kenai-king 06/20/12 - 07:32 am
0
0
Kenaikings

It's too bad they didn't shut the whole river down. They are still going to them fish in the lower river gauntlet where all the guides will be and now everybody else. This is a half heartedly thing to do it needs to be completely shut down.
Oh wait a minute let them keep fishing kill all the Kings and then we will be happy :)

kenai-king
255
Points
kenai-king 06/20/12 - 07:45 am
0
0
Jbohren

Grow up

msjinxie
140
Points
msjinxie 06/20/12 - 05:59 pm
0
0
Something to add

Everyone needs to remember the massive tsunami that happened last year in Japan. That MOVED them 12 feet closer to the Hawaiian Islands according to the USGS people after the earthquake. I can't even imagine what underwater changes have happened. I would expect it redirected or confused runs.whales I'm sure got really messed up too...lost young ones...and adults....who knows. Add that to the already dwindling numbers on the Kenai River, well, its kinda not surprising. Just something to think about is all. The proof in it is the way things are washing on our shores.....

crawford
7
Points
crawford 06/20/12 - 08:01 pm
1
2
It is the whole management plan

Do not forget that the east side set nets catch as many kings as the in river fishery. There should be major restrictions on all users to bring the number of kings in line. The management of the river should not just before the commercial value of the sockeye run. We should put bycatch limits in place on the set nets.

Citizen17
21
Points
Citizen17 06/21/12 - 03:06 am
1
0
Further Restrictions

I was in the Soldotna Trustworthy Hardware store this week and I overheard a conversation between a commercial fishing guide and a potential client. The guide was explaining the restrictions on the king fishery and I thought he explained it very well. The potential client then remarked that the commercial fleet in Cook Inlet is taking too many kings and must be shut down. I think the guide didn't know what to say and still save face, since the drifters' nets are not in the water yet and the east side setnetters don't fish until after July 4th. The only ones over-fishing the early run kings are the Kenai River commercial guides and the recreational king fishermen. Nobody else, except for the Kenaitzes, have their gear in the water. BTW, dipnetting opens on July 10, so they have no affect on the early run kings either. Perhaps the Kenaitze subsistence net needs to be pulled also. Find out how many belugas..I mean kings they have caught. They are allowed up to 300 kings. In order to protect the resource, drastic actions may need to be implemented. If the River needs to be closed, then close the River and save the species.

crawford
7
Points
crawford 06/21/12 - 10:47 am
0
0
The commercial salmon fishing will start on June 25th.

The commercial salmon fishery will start on june 25th. In many years it opens as early as the 20th. Subsistence fishery has been closed also. AT this point there are no closures or restrictions on the commercial season because of the forecasted week run of late run kings. The river is opening with no bait on July 1.

kenai123
1322
Points
kenai123 06/28/12 - 01:32 pm
0
0
Where Have All The Kings Gone?

The average anglers fishing Cook Inlets rivers and streams today will pack up their gear and head out with high hopes of landing a bunch of giant king salmon.
That angler will then return home with the sobering reality that it is much more difficult to catch a king today than it used to be. If they do the research they will eventually come across the records of how king fishing used to be. The story may take many twists and turns but it comes down to a tale of who got the fish. We had a lot of kings in Alaska waters just after World War 2. During this period there was a low point in both commercial and sport fishing thus allowing our salmon resources to blossom. Once those runs reached great abundance they caught the attention of both local and foreign fisheries. Back then the U.S. had a three-mile territorial limit which allowed foreign fisheries to basically come in and curtain off our nursery rivers and streams with trawlers and gillnets. All the commercial effort basically wiped out our salmon so we stopped our own commercial fishing effort prior to 1976 and ended the foreign fishing rip-off with the Magnuson Steven Fisheries Act of 1976. The Act effectively expanded the three-mile limit into a 200 mile U.S. Economic Zone which greatly reduced foreign commercial fishermen from accessing our returning salmon stocks.
The local and foreign shut-down was very successful and from around 1979 to 1995 we again began to allow our commercial fisheries to start fishing again as we experienced huge returns of king and silver salmon on the Kenai River and Cook Inlet. We did not know it at the time but the removal of the foreign and local commercial fishing fleets resulted in our Cook Inlet salmon actually being allowed to somewhat freely migrate back to their home rivers and streams. We could go out fishing on the Kenai River for kings at this time and see ten to twenty kings swirl to the surface when making a single drifting pass on a hole. It was not unusual to go out king fishing in July and have four to five persons in a boat limited out
within a couple hours and most of that time was spent landing giant kings, which fought for at least twenty to thirty minutes each. The fishing was fantastic, runs came in early, peaked and remained strong until the end of the month or were closed by regulation.
As the commercial gillnets increased in and around Cook Inlet, we began to notice run slippage. At first it was just a slight delay of only a few days, which was quickly made up for later when the main body of the runs arrived. Each year from 1995 - 2005 resulted in these runs arriving a few day later.
By 2002 commercial trawlers, seiners and gillnets had increased so much in and around Cook Inlet that many people began noticing a reduction in the size of giant Kenai kings along with their late arrival. The first reaction was shock as the ADF&G began reading off the record of what was happening to the first run of Kenai kings. The Board of Fish and the public scrambled and arrived at their solution, which was to severely restrict freshwater fisheries in an attempt to make up for the losses. At this time I personally began researching the bycatch figures of Kodiak commercial fisheries guarding the entrances to Cook Inlet, which by the way begin commercial fishing June 5th each year. I was astounded as to the dramatic increase in Kodiak area commercial fisheries bycatch of king salmon. Kodiak commercial seine and gillnet fisheries which had previously reported only a bycatch of a few thousand kings annually in 1980 suddenly soared to a bycatch of 20,000 - 30,000 kings annually by 2002. At the same time the Bering Sea commercial fishermen were bycatching 30,000 - 40,000 kings annually and then those bycatch figures rocketed to 100,000 - 120,000 kings annually. These are kings which are illegal to keep so they are just thrown overboard DEAD. At the same time king bycatch figures within the Gulf of Alaska also began soaring from 20,000 kings annually to 50,000 kings and most of this was kings being dumped over the side DEAD because they were either targeting other stocks or illegal to keep. During this time just twenty commercial boats from King Cove and Sand Point near the tip of the Alaska Peninsula averaged a bycatch of 3.4 king salmon per metric ton of Pollock. These guys estimated that they obtained this bycatch of about 24,878 kings in just twelve days of fishing. 20,000 kings is enough salmon to fuel Cook Inlets entire annual sportfishery and would result in 30 - 40 times more revenue to the state than if those fish had actually been delivered to commercial markets. Unfortunately most of those kings never even made it to any markets because they were dumped over the side DEAD. A smaller amount of commercially gillnetted king bycatch makes it to commercial fisherires markets but the vast majority of Alaska's king bycatch is dumped DEAD. Some may think this waste of fish is so offensive that someone would have noticed these changes, well some of us did notice and we tried to generate the attention the situation deserved but many people would not look at what was right before their eyes. It was not until Gulf of Alaska king bycatch figures began soaring to over 40,000 - 60,000 kings annually, when that happened it caught the attention of Lower 48 fisheries managers. These managers had endangered king stocks from the Upper Willamette and lower Columbia rivers which are known to swim the waters of the Gulf of Alaska. When they caught wind of these huge king bycatch numbers they also began to ask questions like we have been asking since 2002.
So what has resulted from all of the bycatch questions and revelations?
In 2009 the North Pacific Council finally attempted to do something about the uncontrolled king bycatch spiral, they voted to stop the Pollock fishing when they hit a bycatch of 60,000 kings in the Bering Sea. In 2011 the North Council voted for a 25,000-king cap on the Gulf of Alaska king bycatch. So theoretically if the Pollock fleet in the Gulf of Alaska passes the 25,000-king bycatch limit, the fishery will be shut down. The Gulf of Alaska 2010 fleet killed more than 51,000 king salmon as bycatch, an all-time high. You can use your imagination as to what has been happening out there since.
These are only caps on the commercial king bycatch, they cannot even hope to repair the long term damage which has been done to our king stocks. Even if this king bycatch problem were totally eliminated today it would take a minimum of 10 - 20 years to recover from this kind of wholesale slaughter.
But to answer the question of "Where have all the kings gone?" Commercial bycatch figures on king salmon have gone from next to nothing to monstrous numbers, while the State of Alaska has been assuming that it's a natural statewide lack of abundance of king salmon resulting from excessive freshwater angling. This incorrect assumption fueled extensive freshwater fisheries restrictions and forced those fisheries to give up fish allocations which they could not afford to give up. The vast majority of these missing king salmon were dumped DEAD over the side by the commercial fishing industry and now blissfully drift among the ocean currents. So the answer is really much more simple than you may have been led to believe. Most of these kings have not gone anywhere, most remain where they were caught, killed and dumped DEAD. This is not a complex naturally low abundance of king salmon issue. It is a simple low abundance of wise fisheries managers WHO ARE ABLE to address fisheries bycatch problems at the saltwater source rather than the freshwater symptoms.

CFFL
83
Points
CFFL 06/28/12 - 04:37 am
1
0
King issue

Kenai123 you do make some valid points regaurding the Trawler,and Kodiak fisheries which are not often brought into this equation. However you referenced the fact that ,"As the commercial gillnets increased around cook inlet", This is simply not a factual statement.

In 1974 all commercial gillnet fisheries went limited enrty. Whith 1974 having the highest number ofactive drift and set net permits issued. This translates to the highest possible amount of gear in the water. Here we are 38 years later and there are fewer commercial permits being fished now than there was 38 years ago. Which equal a decline in the amount of commercial nets in the water in cook inlet.

So on a local basis if there are becoming fewer and fewer commercial gillnetters in cook inlet where is the king preassure coming from?? Well lets start with this absurd dip net fishery. The state allowed 30,000 plus people, that is just the number that actually turned in a permit card, to dip from the Kenai River. The amount of fish dipped in this fishery alone,once again the "reported number", was upwards of 380,000 fish. Tell me there were no kings dipped out of that amount of fish. Second how many guides were on the Kenai river even 15 years ago compared to today?? The number of "certified guides" which have went through the KPC guide course has broken the 800 mark. There is no limit to the amount of guide or dip preassure to the kenai river. All we have to do is look to Homer to see what happens when no limit to the number of guides allowed on a fishery.

To start out we need to put a cap on both the number of guides, and probably more importantly, the number of dip net permits which are issued each year. For the last 4 years the kenai river has seen record breaking numbers of in river users.We need to start looking at what has been changing in the last 10-15 years.

kenai123
1322
Points
kenai123 06/28/12 - 03:37 pm
0
0
Well kingissue, it is simply

It is simply a factual statement. The total number of nets increased for many reasons.
There are many ways to get more commercial fishing gillnets into the waters of Cook Inlet beyond the creation of a new permit.
If you had 1000 Cook Inlet permits in 1980 and even one of them was not being fished until later in 1990, you could in fact have more nets in the water in 1990 than you had in 1980.
Just because a permit exists does not mean that it is actually fishing. That's one way. Another way is for permit holders who were fishing less productive waters all around Cook Inlet suddenly pulled up stakes and moved to fishing off the mouth of the Kenai River because of the huge returns of salmon the river received during that same time period. Many other factors also came into play as commercial fishermen began pushing the envelope of everything as they used illegal gear types, set nets to close to each other, were fishing closed waters and just plain bandit fishing. I could go on but the bottom line is that the interception of our kings greatly increased as the gillnet effort increased.Attempting to prove a specific number of permits existed at this date and that date only attempts to dodge the reality of the king interception increase. My point mainly points to the ramp-up of commercial effort in Kodiak waters which begin around June 5th each year and severely impacted the Kenai Rivers first run of king salmon.
It is a pure lie to claim there are less nets fishing today than back in 1980. I flew off the mouth of the Kenai River on commercial opens back then and also now and there is absolutely no comparison. I would estimate at least double the commercial effort today.

Pointing to in-river factors, be it guides or dipnets, may have worked in the past to get people running around in circles to disprove the lie but it doesn't work anymore because
ALL of our rivers and streams are experiencing the same problem. It's not a river or a stream, it's a saltwater issue. The sooner you get onto the real issue, the sooner you will be able to spin new fabrications which point to anything other than the commercial fishing industry.

kenai123
1322
Points
kenai123 06/29/12 - 09:57 pm
0
0
They are killing and dumping our kings....

Why are commercial fishermen throwing away our kings DEAD? Why are we purchasing ADF&G king stamps just to have a commercial fisherman kill our kings and dump them?
Our trawl fisheries, our governor and our ADF&G Commissioner are all screaming to be allowed to continue killing our kings and throw them over board DEAD.
Our ADFG Commissioner and governor are both currently advocating for the historic average of kings caught as bycatch to be dumped DEAD thus allowing this unbelievable king by-catch issue to continue. Isn't it about time for a King Salmon Revolt? Alaskans need to hold their governor and ADF&G Commissioner accountable.
We all need to take a stand against throwing away our Alaska King Salmon Resource. Our governor and commissioner are both advocating for us to continue throwing our kings away DEAD. A 25,000 king-cap bycatch in the Gulf of Alaska is unacceptable. A 60,000 king-cap bycatch in the Bering Sea is unacceptable. Does anyone really believe that we can hope to rebuild our decimated kings runs with these commercial fisheries tearing up our ocean like this? The reason these trawl fisheries are forced to throw kings away, is so that they can't sell them and make a profit. The logic here is that if they were able to keep and sell bycatch,
that would incentivize them to "accidentally" catch a bunch of kings. If these trawl fisheries were required to process those fish and donate them to a food bank or something, the incentive would be opposite. We should do the same as we do with big game guides as they are forced to salvage the meat off the bears or anything else.
If you are going to kill something in the ocean, you have a duty to use it. If you want to use the ocean as your private ranch and sell billions of little fish sticks, that's fine but part of the deal is that someone has to eat what you catch and you cannot waste our common fisheries heritage. You either eat it or someone eats what you catch or we stop you from fishing period. It might be old-fashioned but that is the way it should always be.

Contact Alaska Governor Sean Parnell or Cora Campbell the ADF&G Commissioner at the below information.

Governor Sean Parnell
P.O. Box 110001
Juneau, AK 99811-0001
Phone (907) 465-3500
Fax (907) 465-3532
http://gov.alaska.gov/parnell/contact/email-the-governor.html

Anchorage Office
550 West 7th Avenue, Suite 1700
Anchorage, AK 99501
Phone (907) 269-7450
Fax (907) 269-7461

Fairbanks Office
675 7th Avenue, Suite H5
Fairbanks, AK 99701-4596
Phone (907) 451-2920
Fax (907) 451-2858

Washington DC Office
444 North Capitol NW, Suite 336
Washington, DC 20001-1512
Phone (202) 624-5858
Fax (202) 624-5857

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