Kenai council continues dipnet talks

The Kenai River personal-use dipnet fishery discussion will continue in a work session at Kenai City Hall today at 5:30 p.m.

 

“(Dipnetters are) not just going to be able to go outside their tents anymore and fillet their fish and leave it. They will be cited for that,” Kenai Mayor Pat Porter said. “We’ll have a little bit more enforcement on the beach and more cleanup.”

Porter’s statement stems from the Jan. 7 dipnet work session. At the meeting concerned city residents said that the 2012 dipnet season was the worst in the 20-plus years the fishery has been operating. They said they wanted the city to take a stance.

At the work session City Manager Rick Koch will present to the city council two options for managing the yearly mess left at the fishery, he said. One option will serve as a short-term solution; the other a long-term fix, he said.

The first option would add more Dumpsters to the north and south beaches and buy a second tractor to rake fish waste during low tides. The tractor and various capital and operating costs are estimated at $172,350.

This option would soften the blow from rising user fees and expand current operations on the beaches, Koch said at the Jan. 7 meeting.

Koch said he will present the first option as a temporary fix for next dipnet season; it is not a long-term solution.

“At some point in the not so very distant future, we’re actively working towards a program (where) fish waste is collected and removed from the beach,” he said.

That is the second option, he said, and he will ask for direction from the council to move forward with it. He said he hopes to have the program implemented in the next two to five years.

But progress is staggered, Koch said. “We have to do a lot to catch-up with the year that we just had ... and get ahead of what’s going to happen the next year,” he said.

Each year the numbers of fish and dipnet users rise, leaving behind greater amounts of fish waste and trash, he said.

“If we can get the state on board with helping us with trying to mitigate some of these issues, fish waste specifically, I think we can get ahead of it,” Koch said.

The council will meet in the council chambers in City Hall, 210 Fidalgo Ave.

Dan Schwartz can be reached at daniel.schwartz@peninsulaclarion.com.

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