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Kenai City Council discusses dipnet fishery report

Dipnet woes

Posted: January 8, 2013 - 10:52pm  |  Updated: January 10, 2013 - 4:03pm
Members of ROC the Kenai, a group dedicated to cleaning up the Kenai River, visited the North beach near the mouth of the river to clean up trash left by dipnetters Wednesday July 25, 2012 in Kenai, Alaska. Photo by Rashah McChesney
Members of ROC the Kenai, a group dedicated to cleaning up the Kenai River, visited the North beach near the mouth of the river to clean up trash left by dipnetters Wednesday July 25, 2012 in Kenai, Alaska. Photo by Rashah McChesney

Kenai residents agreed that the city during dipnet season has morphed into a destination or party spot for all Alaskans. And it’s a trend the Kenai River cannot support, they said.

“It’s become a time of year for people from the Valley to come down and trash the beach,” said Megan Every, a Kenai resident. “The city needs to start putting limits on it.”

The Kenai City Council held its first work session Monday regarding the 2012 Dipnet Fishery Report. City officials highlighted last year’s pros and cons then council members and concerned residents discussed the future of the fishery.

The report highlights revenues and expenditures to the city as well as problems associated with more users accessing the river. To mitigate the influx of dipnetters, City Manager Rick Koch proposed increasing efforts to move fish waste to the beaches’ shores during low tides and collect other solid waste in new Dumpsters.

The Kenai Peninsula experienced its busiest dipnet season to date in 2012. Last year’s non-grant revenues exceeded the previous year’s revenues by 19.7 percent, totaling $473,161.03. The increase in revenues was attributed to a $5 camping fee increase and a larger number of participants.

Expenditures totaled $482,070.26, and the city experienced a net loss of $8,909.23.

A persistent fish waste problem accompanies those increases in use. The city intends to pursue an “aggressive” program to mitigate waste on the north and south beaches.

Koch laid out his plan for 2013 in the latter half of the work session. He outlined six possible methods to deal with increasing waste. In the end, he suggested the second alternative: additional Dumpsters on the north and south beaches and raking the fish waste during low tides.

The alternative would require the purchase of a second tractor for raking the north beach. The tractor, signage and other additional capital costs are estimated at $99,000, and additional operating costs are estimated at $73,350.

This alternative would result in the lowest increase in users fees and would expand current operations rather than creating costly new systems, Koch said. It is a measured approached to the growing fish waste problem and would not completely fix the beaches, he said.

“This year, it’d be worth trying number two, and through better education improve clean-up, and see what happens from there,” Koch said.

Residents commenting at the work session adamantly opposed the measured approach. Instead, they pushed for alternative four, the prohibition of any fish waste disposal on the beaches or in the waters of the river. Users would be required to take whole fish home. According to Koch, six additional officers would be needed for enforcement.

“The only viable option is four,” Every said. “It will take enforcement in the beginning, but with word of some $500 citations going around it will work.”

Megan Smith, a VIP subdivision resident, echoed Every’s choice, as did other attendees.

“It’s not the city’s responsibility to clean up everyone else’s trash,” Smith said. “If it ends up strewn from here to wherever, it becomes a state problem, and this is a state fishery.”

The council members responded positively to the residents’ suggestions. Robert Molloy and Kenai City Mayor Pat Porter, who was absent from the session but had her decisions relayed by another member, chose alternative four as the optimal route.

Residents also spoke in favor of putting more pressure on the state and its agencies to alleviate the burgeoning “Woodstock of Alaska,” as one attendee described the three-week dipnet season. Council member Tim Navarre said the city should take a stronger stance with the state.

“(That is to say), we should make sure there’s legislation … but we can’t just pass on the problem; it makes us no better than the state agencies,” he said.

The comments about the lack of state government support of the fishery put Koch on the defensive. The purpose of the dipnet report, he said, was how to deal with waste, and if there is a larger goal the council needs to identify it.

The report also contains details of the 2012 dipnet season from the Kenai Police Department, the Public Works Department and the Finance Department, among others. The full report is accessible on the city’s website at http://www.ci.kenai.ak.us/.

Police experienced their heaviest workload from July 17 to July 22, as they assisted the city’s dock crews with vehicle traffic, Police Chief Gus Sandahl wrote in the report.

Sandahl shared his department’s fishery findings during the first half of the work session.

Among the findings, dipnet-related calls to the Police Department increased from 121 in 2011 to 142 in 2012. The number of dipnet-related citations nearly doubled, from 59 in 2011 to 106 in 2012.

“Citations are going up. Part of this may be that (the Kenai Police Department) was less tolerant of violations,” Sandahl said. “We were far too lenient in 2010.”

In 2010, the police issued a total of six dipnet-related citations.

Jerzy Shedlock can be reached at jerzy.shedlock@peninsulaclarion.com.

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northernlights
216
Points
northernlights 01/09/13 - 10:12 am
2
1
Its about time to do something

Its a disgrace that people flood this area and abuse it. Some have respect for others the kenai becomes thier playground and they could care less that our river banks are being destroyed, they leave thier garbage for us to pick up. We need grants to hire part time troopers to help over look and enforce, thier presence makes a difference. Most people have no idea how much garbage we pick up at Russian River. In the early run, less than a week we picked up over 50lbs of garbage from the wilderness! fishing line, paper, they crap in the woods and leave toilet paper and garbage. I hate it that is why I volunteer to watch over our banks etc. There is very few law enforcers and people get away with all kinds of stuff. We cant wait until its destroyed and then do something. I dont want to hear how people need 50 fish in thier freezer to survive, thats a lie. Natives and locals who were born and raised here and lived off the fish is a different story. People flock up here to collect a PFD, then whine how they need to feed thier families. Our Peninsula is not and should not be thier party playground and we pick up thier mess. Its awful, I dont go to Anchorage and leave my garbage in thier parking lots or thier back yard. They trample and destroy. Look at the dunes during the summer, it will make you sick. WE need more volunteers and enforcement. It has come to that, they brought it upon themselves.

kenairesident
68
Points
kenairesident 01/09/13 - 10:41 am
0
0
Its not all Anchorage people

I see plenty of garbage along our roads and beaches all year long.. its not just during dipnetting season. I agree something should be done about the fish waste, but to put all the blame on Anchorage and "Valley" residents is just wrong.

bigtalkahh
184
Points
bigtalkahh 01/09/13 - 10:49 am
0
1
Pollution Dilution

Kill the beach fishery if it causes you that much trouble. Send the Alaskan masses to Soldotna and Sterling to fish and spend time and money. Spread the fish waste to all the roadside fresh water streams. Kenai does not have to spend that kind of money to maintain the dip net fishery. The waste is concentrated at the mouth which is flushed and cleaned by Mother Nature twice a day. Common sense!

Watchman on the Wall
2893
Points
Watchman on the Wall 01/09/13 - 11:33 am
1
1
Chain Gangs on beach patrol

Wildwood convicts working for their living cleaning the beach and road ways could be a two fold use of TIME & MONEY SPENT.
Also have the convicts out at the dump collecting usable materials that can be recycled or sold for profit rather than buried. What a waste of free labor that we pay for so they can have free living and ALL THEIR HEARTS DESIRE while in jail.
As for the fish carcasses, throw them in the ocean and feed other sea life.
If only we had a law is not the answer, we already have laws that are not inforced or observed due to NO FEAR OF LAW OR PUNISHMENT FOR VIOLATIONS OF WHILE REALIZING THERE IS NO INFORCEMENTS.

CFFL
83
Points
CFFL 01/09/13 - 12:26 pm
2
0
trash on the beaches

I understand that it is not ALL Anchorage and Valley residents. However if you look at the personal use fishery report approx. 90% of the personal use permits issued were issued to Anchorage and Valley residents.

spwright
1376
Points
spwright 01/09/13 - 05:46 pm
0
1
A Picture is Worth a 1000 Words

Simple solution : Take a photo of the People that are abusing
this Dip Net Fishery then share those photos with the Police.

Cussin' & Discussing, Rant & Rave, Scream & Holler accomplish nothing cuz it's Your Word vs the People that abuse the system . He said, She said situation.

Cell phones & smart phones are literately everywhere now.
All of which have digital cameras.

Take a photo of the Fish, the guy's face & license plate number & there is your hard evidence of a crime.
Factual PROOF that can be used in court.

A Picture is Worth a 1000 Words

SPW "Airborne"

Unglued
228
Points
Unglued 01/10/13 - 10:30 am
1
0
Learn to like it

Buck up, Kenai residents. Get used to the three weeks of visitors in July. Figure out a way to control them (which the city has done for you). Make some money by providing them with a service. You'll be happier for it. Those of us who live along the river upstream have been living among summertime visitors for years. You either barricade yourself indoors and wear ear plugs, or you go out and mingle among them. These people aren't aliens, send down to pollute your little corner of the earth and make you miserable. They're simply taking advantage of one of the wonderful things about living in Alaska, a place where you can take part in gathering part of your family's food, one of life's most useful and pleasant endeavors. That this food happens to be one of the most healthful foods on earth is irresistible to them—as it probably is to you. Get over the idea that you can have it all to yourself.

Hidden between your words is scorn for "outsiders," anyone who doesn't live in Kenai. I've heard some of you make derogatory remarks about Asians and non-residents. I suspect that much of the rancor comes from disgruntled commercial fishermen, who at least have some reason to be a little miffed. The rest of you need to try acting like reasonable, intelligent adults and welcome these visitors to your town. For three weeks, you ought to be able to do that.

Beach Boss
124
Points
Beach Boss 01/10/13 - 11:02 am
0
0
Apples to Apples

Unglued I think we need some clarification here. I believe that Kenai residents don't have a problem with the "outsiders" coming down to partake in the dipnet fishery. What most Kenai residents have a problem with is the waste and garbage that is left on the beach. Listen to a local 16 year olds venture on what she encounters on those beaches while she is cleaning up down there. People leave underwear, homemade outhouses, ironing boards, tents, sleeping bags, and hundreds of thousands pounds of fish carcasses spread along the beach. I am sure if you saw this waste and trash upstream you would be just as upset as most local residents are. It is not the people partaking in the event it is the waste. Just wanted to make sure we are comparing apples to apples Unglued.

Unglued
228
Points
Unglued 01/10/13 - 12:25 pm
0
0
Heaps of trash

I know the volume is terrific, Beach Boss, but volunteers and paid employees can handle it. A couple of years from now, the trash problem will have been solved, I'm sure. Other places have handled fish waste and trash, and Kenai can, too.

Watchman on the Wall
2893
Points
Watchman on the Wall 01/10/13 - 12:45 pm
1
0
Yepper!

I agree in a couple of years the trash problem will be solved and we will all move on due to the CLOSURE of this fishery, due in part to UNCARING GREEDY ALASKA RESIDENTS, AS WELL AS FORIEGNERS OR OUT OF STATERS WHO FISH IT ILLEGALLY. Not yelling here just expounding on those that are the problem, locally or not.
It's gonna come to a scretching halt very soon, how can it continue on as it has for the last 10 yrs with this massive raping of the resource. Just as the kings vanished, so shall the reds, then what? There will be a mad scramble to point blame even further and i still maintain that it is illegal or out of state people being allowed to destroy our fishery just as they did in the places they came from, with the help of many locals as well. What part of Fundamentally challenged mankinds only trait is to destroy all things, with a fained desire to control for protection don't we seem to understand?

KenaiKardinal88
472
Points
KenaiKardinal88 01/11/13 - 06:43 am
1
1
The Real Problem

The real problem is that the greedy commercial fishers get too much, and real Alaskans are forced to scramble for the scraps.

kenai-king
232
Points
kenai-king 01/11/13 - 09:20 am
1
1
The Real Problem

Is that this cannot continue and needs to stop but they have created a monster. This fishery is so wrong and abused, every time I see freezer burned fish for dog team I wonder why Fish and Game is not at their door writing them a ticket for want and waste. Not only that I don't think the peninsula can handle to much more, it wasn't that bad last year because of no King fishing. But it gets worse every year. And then there is the accidents on death road between here and Anchorage this is a joke and needs to stop.

Watchman on the Wall
2893
Points
Watchman on the Wall 01/11/13 - 03:20 pm
1
0
Speaking of scraps

Take a GOOD look at the picture(only one of many that could be duplicated & shown all along the Kenai river) and see who wastes food and explain to me how it's commercial fishers & not public who are the wasters. I think i see a whole lot of food that would not be wasted if commercial fishers sold these fish to the processors. I even see whole salmon in that pile of wasted food. I'm not a commercial fisher, but, i think this one picture really shows a MASSIVE WASTE and the eventual end to this fishery ment to help feed people. We people will usher in the END of this subsistance fishery, and it's not far off either i fear. What a waste which demands, screams out for control, control that will hurt, not help any. Then what and who will be blamed for our greed and waste?

Keen-eye
36
Points
Keen-eye 01/11/13 - 05:04 pm
0
0
Kenaikardinal88

Your post is an indication of the overall problem with fisheries allocation in Cook Inlet. Instead of asking yourself if you are provided the opportunity to harvest the fish that you need for yourself and family, all you look at is what Commercial Fisherman harvest. If a Commercial Fisherman harvests 1,000 sockeyes, does that mean that you should be able to also harvest 1000 sockeyes just to make things "fair". What would you do with 1000 sockeyes?
If you cannot harvest your annual consumptive needs under the current management that allows over 1,000,000 sockeyes to enter just the Kenai River, I do not believe sending another couple of million up the river would help.
I suggest trying a different fly, like one with a hook on it or maybe a different dipnet. Just saying........

Unglued
228
Points
Unglued 01/11/13 - 06:04 pm
0
0
Good point, Keen-eye

I'm not a commercial fisherman, but I see Keen-eye's point. There is no way sport and personal-use fishermen can harvest all the sockeyes that enter the Kenai that are in excess of the spawning escapement goal. For the foreseeable future, at least, a commercial fishery is a good thing for several reasons, not the least of which is that it diversifies the economy. However, I expect some changes in the future of commercial fishing in Cook Inlet. Fishing on mixed stocks is risky, and will always be a conundrum for managers.

Keen-eye
36
Points
Keen-eye 01/11/13 - 08:50 pm
1
0
Unglued

Glad you caught my point that there have been enough fish to go around for all user groups. I think that there is something built into our DNA that makes us want to catch more fish than the "other guy" regardless of how many we need.
I think a better process for the dipnet fishery would be for a requirement that we think about how many fish we need and actually consume during the year and use that number as our harvest limit instead of 25 per head of household and 10 per dependent. "Take some and save some" as my Dad says.

twodux
4
Points
twodux 01/11/13 - 09:01 pm
0
0
Waste Disposal

No cannery would be allowed to dispose of their fish waste in this manner. DEC would be on them in a heartbeat with fines and orders to clean up their mess. So why is this allowed?

And as for the rest of the garbage, again, no business or even private citizen would be allowed to leave a mess like this on private or public property. Why is it allowed?

If the State wants to continue this zoo, the State should come in hard with rules and enforcement. There is no excuse for this mess.

If the State doesn't want to police and clean the mess it created, then a lawsuit may be needed to get their attention.

Unglued
228
Points
Unglued 01/11/13 - 09:34 pm
2
0
About the "waste" ...

Ideally, the fish would be filleted or otherwise processed on the beach where they are caught, and the carcasses sent to a processor for turning into fish meal or some other useful product. If there's a cost to doing this, the users should bear it, as they have so far.

Remember, a lot of fish are caught by dipnetters in boats. Those carcasses present other problems, if they aren't disposed of properly. A lot of them end up in the Borough dumpsters. Many are taken to Anchorage and the Mat-Su, where people fillet them at home.

As far as who runs the show, the city and commercial fishing interests went to great pains to keep Kenai out of the Kenai River Special Management Area. If Kenai has now had a change of heart, I'm fairly sure Alaska State Parks would be overjoyed to include the city beach in the KRSMA, which is in effect a state park. Personally, I think Kenai is doing a good job, so far. There's a learning curve, so existing situations will improve with time. BTW, the state is giving the city of Kenai funding this year for waste disposal. Read the Kenai annual dipnet report. It's on the city's web site.

kenai-king
232
Points
kenai-king 01/12/13 - 07:13 am
1
0
A Fix

I think they should just put in a big fish wheel and then people could bring in their credentials to show they are an Alaska resident and take their share.

JOAT
490
Points
JOAT 01/12/13 - 09:00 am
2
0
Restrict the fishing zone to fishing only

The beach is the worst possible place to clean fish. The instant you stick a knife into the meat in that environment, you are contaminating your food with harmful bacteria as well as covering it with sand. Then you dump the 'waste' right on the ground without worry about everyone else trying to use the area. So, prohibit cleaning the fish between the markers. If they want to go further down the beach and do it, so be it. It's their ruined fish, but it will keep the fish waste at the outer end of the zone rather than spread over the length of the fishing area.

The true solution is simple; fish cleaning stations away from the fishing area with running water and a waste collection site. There is a whole bunch of $ to be made for the guy who offers to take the fish waste and turn it into fish meal for fertilizer. The $ that can be made from the waste will pay a handsome profit long after the equipment is paid off.

Next step... no camping on the beach within the fishing zone. There are 100,000 residents who want to go fishing. Having a bunch of inconsiderate folks dropping tents right in the middle of the fishing zone is extremely rude. No camping on the beach between the fishing markers. Push the campers out to local campgrounds. Most of the general trash is generated by the campers, not the fishers. The beach isn't setup to facilitate so many campers.

Unglued
228
Points
Unglued 01/12/13 - 09:07 am
1
0
Restricting the fishing zone

Good points, JOAT. I should've added that I meant for the fish to be cleaned at the cleaning stations proposed by the city. These shouldn't be located where they interfere with fishing, but should be nearby. You're right about the camping.

Keen-eye
36
Points
Keen-eye 01/12/13 - 11:09 am
0
0
Fish cleaning stations

Fish cleaning have been considered by the City Manager and the City Council. The biggest drawback is that the water generated by the stations would have to be treated as waste water and treated before discharge, very expensive considering the amount that would be generated. Another issue is that it would take a large number of stations to accommodate all of the dipnetters. The thought is that if a cleaning station is not available, then the people will just return to cleaning on the beach. As far as grinding the carcaass, this is problematic because of all of the sand that is intermingled with the carcasses.

Watchman on the Wall
2893
Points
Watchman on the Wall 01/12/13 - 11:34 am
0
1
surtax

Add a surtax of $100 dollars per permit to be used to clean up the beach and provide more inforcement of the laws maybe.
All i know is the way it's going we are gonna loose it, or pay out the nose for allowing this mess to continue on.
People are not gonna stop and use cleaning stations with the massive number of fish they have, they would be there still waiting to clean their fish unless there are thousands of cleaning stations provided, but, who in their right minds would support such a massive expence and who would provide the funds for it?
The other thing that can be done is to require more info and have say students checking the many areas of verification of each applicant on line to insure legality of each paid for by the surtax collected. With the computers ability to know anything about anyone at a seconds time after pushing the enter button, there is no excuse for lacked inforcement against illegals. NONE!

twodux
4
Points
twodux 01/12/13 - 02:41 pm
0
0
Grinding

Grinding carcasses isn't the way to go. The ground fish just sinks faster and ends up in a toxic pile on the bottom. Just ask the canneries who have been fined for this even tho it was required by DEC.

When dealing with this kind of volume, it's better to either turn the waste into fish meal or get the waste out into the ocean currents that will disperse it.

JOAT
490
Points
JOAT 01/12/13 - 03:36 pm
1
0
Fish Meal Fertilizer

Forget grinding and dumping. That's a stupid plan on any scale. What we need is a fish meal plant. Between all the commecial, dipnet, and other sport catch, a fish meal plant could run some serious loads of fish fertilizer in July and August. I'm pretty sure the ADF&G wouldn't allow the use of sport caught fish waste for fish meal being sold as animal feed, but I don't see how they could stop an outfit from "recycling" the waste into fertilizer. Must lower quality control requirement for a fertilizer operation and having "aged" carcasses wouldn't be a problem.

Carcass dumpsters could be placed next to all the fish cleaning tables to collect up all this fish waste for processing. It's as simple and sensible as aluminum can and newspaper recycling bins.

Salmonseeds
2
Points
Salmonseeds 01/14/13 - 05:56 am
0
0
Dip net resolutions

It's complicated,but decreasing the catch limit may help, like 15 for each licensed person would be more sensible.
That would help reduce the waste and people to come and fish as well.
Implement a charge for the permits.
I don't know ....either that or just go to line fishing ONLY!
that would certainly solve many of the issues.
It's a shame we have this problem !

Roger104
137
Points
Roger104 01/14/13 - 07:09 am
0
0
The real issue

The real issue here is that we've let this fishery on this river grow without reasonable regulations or limits. The problems we are seeing are a result of that. It is unhealthy and unfair to the resource and the communities that depend on it to expect the Kenai to provide for the whole state. Why not #1, make personal use fishing available on all Alaskan rivers with surplus fish, and #2 create some sort of reasonable limit on each so we are not disproportionally harvesting from one stock. It seems this would protect both the environment, and the existing user groups.

kenairesident
68
Points
kenairesident 01/14/13 - 01:58 pm
0
0
charge for permits

I agree that there should be a charge for the permits. My husband and I get a permit every year, but only dipnetted once in 2011 and got about 6 fish. We didnt dip at all in 2012 and caught all we needed and could handle by fishing with a pole. Its way more fun than dealing with the zoo at the dock and on the river!

Lifer
40
Points
Lifer 01/15/13 - 11:20 pm
0
0
Expand dipnetting to relieve pressure

I like Roger104's idea. Why not allow dipnetting on every river where sportfishing occurs. The Little Sue, the Deshka, Ship Creek, Bird Creek, 20 Mile, The Anchor. If Alaskans want to take fish without a rod, let them dip wherever they want, it will take pressure off of the Kenai and Kasilof and spread the wealth of dipnet money all over Alaska.

Watchman on the Wall
2893
Points
Watchman on the Wall 01/15/13 - 11:49 pm
0
0
I don't really think it will

I wish that were the case of relieving pressure on the Kenai river, but, i actually think that the cheats would actually rape our land and rivers more so than now.
We sure need to come up with something though.
There was a advertisement asking for people to help with this problem along the right side of the clarions forum a couple days ago, i don't know what happened to it, but it said that volunteers were needed in february around the 18th i think for the subsistance fisheries board.
We certainly need to dso something before we totally loose what we have now. I truly believe that we need more LE of some form, even volunteers would help check the fish counts as well as the clipped tails. The thing is there are so many cheats that will never stop fishing as long as the fish run inspite of the laws.
It's kind of like gun laws, the illegals don't give a flip about the rules or laws, their gonna do what they want to do no matter what, which causes us all to suffer more control and lose of rights to protect & provide for ourselves and others legally.

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