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Rashah McChesney
A group of more than 100 protested in front of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Monday July 23, 2012 in Soldotna, Alaska. Most of the fishermen are East Side Setnetters and their families who have been shut down as a fishery for the bulk of their season.

Setnetters continue to protest in-season closure

Group rallies at ADF&G on Monday

Posted: July 24, 2012 - 1:29pm

Three generations of the Clucas family gathered in front of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game offices on Monday to protest the continued closure and season restrictions on local fishermen. 

More than 100 people, mostly setnetters from parts of the East Side setnet fishery, gathered to rally against the continued closure of their fishery, a restriction several fishermen said would have a devastating impact on the local economy. 

Jon Clucas stood with his mother, Janet Clucas, and 10 other members of their immediate family talking about their nets and homes in the Ninilchik area. 

“What do you do if you can’t fish? I don’t know,” Janet said. “I’m 70. What else am I going to do?”

Several people held up a large banner for the setnetters and another group parked a truck and skiff along the side of the road, extolling passersby to honk in support. Protests of varying size were held Friday when about 200 people gathered in the Kenai park strip and over the weekend as passage estimates for king salmon continue to remain low while sockeye salmon passage estimates are increasing. 

The sport fish division’s DIDSON sonar king salmon passage estimate on the Kenai River is still below the previous two years. The latest estimate is 7,409 late run kings according to the department. 

Meanwhile, the Kenai River sockeye salmon estimate for Sunday was more than 110,000, bringing the season total to 806,262. 

To help cope with a sockeye run the department projects will exceed 2.3 million fish, the sport fishing division issued an emergency order Friday that expanded dipnetting hours at the mouth of the Kenai River to 24 hours per day. 

Another order delivered the same day increased the bag and possession limit for salmon 16 inches or longer, other than king and coho salmon, from three per day, three in possession to six per day, 12 in possession. No more than two of the fish meeting those guidelines can be coho salmon. 

Rita Clucas, Jon’s wife, said she hoped people understood that the motive behind the protests. 

“People see signs that say ‘let us fish’ and they don’t understand that we are very conservation minded,” she said. “We want this industry to be here forever.”

She referenced Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell’s recent statement that the Cook Inlet region could potentially qualify for an economic disaster declaration after the season ends. 

“There’s no one here that wants to be a charity case, we want to work,” she said. 

 

Rashah McChesney can be reached at rashah.mcchesney@peninsulaclarion.com

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potomac
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potomac 07/26/12 - 09:22 am
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set netters out of the water

Are all the commercial guides out of the water too, I doubt it.
Pretty sad days ahead until the F&G folks are given full control over the bottom scraping fleets out in the sound, Kodiak, etc.. these huge ships from all over the world crossing into our waters constantly in some cases throw away the Cook Inlet Kings while they are bottom fishing for fish sticks, pretty sad. How would you like to be living on the Yukon if you think it is bad here at least we have reds to eat. These problems take studies since without them no action can be taken, congress rules without studies, mean while even if you shut all fishing down it will take years to recover if it ever does, just look around you a little farther south, that is where Alaska is now and will most likely remain there for years to come without some great sacrifices from all fishermen so mean while find a different way to make a living as this is the future

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