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Large sockeye run triggers drift net fleet area expansion

Posted: July 25, 2012 - 5:18pm  |  Updated: July 26, 2012 - 8:05am

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced that the final run of sockeye on the Kenai River is expected to exceed 4.6 million fish triggering changes in the way the drift fleet is fished for the last part of the season. 

Normally, when the run exceeds what Fish and Game biologists believe to be needed for optimum escapement the drift fleet can fish inlet-, or district-wide. However, Pat Shields, area management biologist in the commercial division, said managers wanted to provide some protection for coho and sockeye headed north.

Commercial management now increases the in-river goal on the Kenai River to 1.1 million to 1.35 million sockeye according to the central district drift gillnet fishery management plan.

Shields said Fish and Game wanted drifters to fish in the newly opened area two, which opens up an area just east of Kalgin Island and will bring the fleet closer to the mouth of the Kasilof and Kenai Rivers. That area is where the department believes the bulk of the late run sockeye are, Shields said.

A test boat which runs from the Kasilof north of the Kalgin Island to the west side of the inlet has been seeing more fish while the southern test boat has seen its catch going down, Shields said.

Area two was not opened last year when the projected run triggered changes in the management plan.

Rather drifters were fished district-wide.

However, Shields said there were concerns with northern-bound stocks that his division had to consider when determining where the fleet should go this year.

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kenai123
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kenai123 07/30/12 - 09:12 am
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Keep the sockeye's off the beaches and out of the set gillnets.

Those drift gill nets should be able to fish continuously until most of the Kenai Rivers sockeyes are cleaned up. The last thing we want to do is let those sockeye's get to the beaches where they cannot be separated from king salmon in a year which is showing fewer kings than ever before. Where did all of our Cook Inlet kings go? This story should be about how the drift fleet is being used to keep the sockeye's off the beaches and out of set gillnets.

Many Alaskan's are wondering what can or should be done to resolve the decline in king salmon within the Cook Inlet area. If you ask the Alaska Department of Fish & Game they will point to a snowstorm of data and grafts, which in the end leaves the viewer even more confused about our commercial by-catch problems. I have been reviewing our king loss data since 2002 and have come to a single conclusion. That conclusion is that many things may need to change within our commercial fisheries but key within those changes is that statewide we must stop all commercial fisheries from profiting "in any way" when they kill non-targeted specie as by-catch. This means that commercial fisheries should be legally required to retain and process ALL BY-CATCH and then DONATE it to a charity. That means that if you "by-catch kill" a beluga whale calf; you are forced to retain, process and donate it. If you by-catch kill a king salmon: you must retain, process and donate it. By charity I mean some kind of Food Bank. This would prevent commercial fisheries from donating by-catch to their favorite "commercial fisheries non-profit".
This change alone, over time would eventually resolve most of Alaska's current by-catch problems. With this change commercial fisheries would eventually be forced to at least begin thinking about avoiding non-targeted by-catch. The king salmon by-catch issue is 100% about money; if you can make by-catch non-profitable, commercial fisheries will eventually find a way to prevent the financial drain. If we leave things the way they are we will be permanently losing many marine specie and fisheries in the very near future.
As long as commercial fisheries are allowed to profit "in any way" from by-catch, the by-catch issue will never go away and therefore all our Alaskan natural resources
and fisheries will go on suffering FOREVER. The Alaskan public must organize on this commercial fisheries by-catch issue and tightly focus on this single goal.
That goal must be to " REMOVE ALL THE PROFIT" from all commercial fisheries by-catch. The new reality in our fisheries future must be that commercial by-catch is going to cost you BIG. It really does not matter if it is a large fine or the charity donation, the Alaskan [filtered word] needs to organize and do whatever it takes to begin the process of eventually holding commercial fisheries accountable for the marine destruction it is causing within our ocean. The wholesale slaughter of non-targeted species is no longer just acceptable losses. This mean that the Alaskan public must rise up and compel the Alaska Board of Fish and the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council to take action and make SUBSTANTIAL changes in the way ALL by-catch is processed by ALL of our commercial fisheries. This is a very reasonable goal for the Alaskan public to pursue in resolving this very unreasonable waste of our common Alaskan natural resource heritage.

If you are concerned about the king run, by-catch, closures, the pollock trawlers STILL FISHING and KILLING KINGS & HALIBUT sign & forward this petition to all your friends http://signon.org/sign/end-salmon-halibut-bycatch

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