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Council outlines dipnet options, residents ask for change

Posted: February 7, 2013 - 9:26pm

A Cannery Road resident said she has put her home on the market, partially, because the mess left each year at the Kenai River personal-use dipnet fishery and the crowds that gather have become too much.

“It’s pretty much made our lives hell,” Kenai resident Carolyn Snowder said at the Kenai City Council work session Wednesday.

Cannery Road runs about a mile along the south beach, and during the month the fishery is open fish waste and trash — diapers, human waste, beer cans — make the area so toxic she cannot let her dog outside without having to give it a bath afterwards, she said.

“And we are not able to use the beach past June when the fishery opens because the waste is just so bad,” she said.

Of the more than 20 concerned Kenai residents, most who spoke said they wanted the city to require dipnet users remove their fish whole from the beach. Others said they wanted better enforcement. Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Mike Navarre said the Borough is considering installing traffic cameras along Cannery Road to crack down on speeding and other traffic violations during July.

Nikiski resident Richard McGahan said he was fed up.

“We have laws in this country in the state of Alaska and I think it’s time to enforce it,” McGahan said. “We need to stop pussy-footing around.”

The Wednesday work session was the second held to discuss alternatives to correct the city’s dipnet fishery problems.

At a Jan. 7 meeting, City Manager Rick Koch outlined the following six alternatives for action:

■ Alternative one, the city will take no action and will manage the fishery waste as it did in 2012;

■ Alternative two, the city will increase its efforts to move fish waste to the tide line during low tides and to collect solid waste in trash bins;

■ Alternative three, the city will allow “gut and gill” fish cleaning on the beaches and in the river, increase its efforts to move fish waste to the tide line during low tides and to collect solid waste in trash bins, and ramp up enforcement;

■ Alternative four, the city will require dipnet users to remove the whole fish from the beach, collect solid waste in trash bins and increase enforcement;

■ Alternative five, the city will place multiple containers on the north and south beaches and at the Kenai Municipal Boat Launch to collect fish waste, ban fish waste from the beach and the river, increase its efforts to collect solid waste in trash bins, and ramp up enforcement; and

■ Alternative six, the city will place multiple fish cleaning stations along the north and south beach and the boat launch equipped with fish waste containers, ban all fish waste from the beaches or water, increase its efforts to collect solid waste in trash bins, and ramp up enforcement.

Koch said he recommends alternative two as short-term action.

That alternative would cost the city about $99,000 for another tractor, a rake for the tractor, more signs and four-wheelers and an additional $73,350 in operating costs, according to a Jan. 7 work session handout prepared by Koch.

While many residents supported the fourth alternative — removal of the fish whole — Koch said he thinks that alternative will only encourage users to throw their fish waste in campsites and on the side of the roads between Kenai and Anchorage.

“I don’t think it’s very Alaskan of us to create a solution that will cause problems downstream,” he said.

He said that alternative would also be difficult to enforce. Kenai Police Chief Gus Sandahl said, for the most part, an officer has to see a dipnet user litter to write them a ticket. Currently there are not enough officers to enforce existing rules, Kenai Mayor Pat Porter said.

Council Member Mike Boyle said he supports alternative three, the “gut and gill” option.

He said it is the “least offensive,” easiest to enforce and it brings a change.

But Koch said alternative three would increase fisher fees by $10 if the city is to break even, and if it were a bad year, the city would lose money. Alternative two would only raise fees by $5, he said.

Koch said alternative two would serve as a short term fix, paving the way for alternative five.

Alternative five would create a system to collect and remove fish waste from the beach, he said.

The alternative would cost the city about $124,000 for four-wheelers, more signage and fish waste containers and about $360,150 in operating costs, according to Koch’s handout.

He said he hopes the city can implement the option in the next two to five years.

Currently the council is split between alternative two and three. Council Members Bob Molloy and Mike Boyle said they support three. Porter and council members Tim Navarre and Terry Bookey support two.

Council member Ryan Marquis said he is tied between two and four, and Brian Gabriel Sr. said he is tied between two and three.

The council has not yet set a date to vote on the alternatives.

After the work session, city council met briefly to pass several ordinances. Council members unanimously passed ordinance 2674-2013 to reflect the current process for city employees to opt-out of the State Public Employees Retirement System.

City council will meet again Feb. 20, 7 p.m., at city hall, 210 Fidalgo Ave.

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

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ManInBlack
182
Points
ManInBlack 02/08/13 - 11:59 am
3
1
Alternative 4 is the only way....

As for mr. kochs statement that "he thinks that alternative will only encourage users to throw their fish waste in campsites and on the side of the roads between Kenai and Anchorage.", just where are they going to clean their fish in that number that no one is going to take notice? If they are cleaning them in a campground, they can throw their waste into the river (as most local campgrounds are located on the river). That would actually IMPROVE the efficiency of the disposal of carcasses. As for doing it (cleaning fish) on the side of the road, that would be a VERY CONSPICUOUS activity that any passerby could phone into the troopers. Allowing people to clean their fish on the beach is unsanitary on both a personal AND environmental scale. Disallowing that single action would save $$$ in that NO tractors would be needed (let alone MORE), and the KPD would make money writing tickets to violators until the word got around.

Lifer
40
Points
Lifer 02/08/13 - 12:39 pm
1
0
Four is the only way to go

Alternative four does not require the purchase of an additional tractor and cleans up the waste problem by eliminating it. It also encourages more responsible use of the resource by demanding users keep their fish intact until they leave. Maybe we'll see fewer of those guys that fish everyday for a month but somehow don't fill their quota.

shadowmt
78
Points
shadowmt 02/09/13 - 11:17 am
1
1
no tractor and four wheelers

Take the fish home whole. The city does not need a new tractor and four wheelers to play around with on the beach. Koch just wants to spend some money that is not his.

JOAT
487
Points
JOAT 02/10/13 - 02:31 am
1
1
# 4

Yep, alt #4 is the only one that will work. No fish cleaning in the dipnet zone of the beach.

The idea that this will cause people to stop and dump fish on the side of the road is preposterious. And doing so would be in violation of existing littering laws, thus it is already an illegal activity. Not something that Kenai needs to worry about.

JOAT
487
Points
JOAT 02/10/13 - 02:31 am
0
0
# 4

Yep, alt #4 is the only one that will work. No fish cleaning in the dipnet zone of the beach.

The idea that this will cause people to stop and dump fish on the side of the road is preposterious. And doing so would be in violation of existing littering laws, thus it is already an illegal activity. Not something that Kenai needs to worry about.

steelhorse
48
Points
steelhorse 02/10/13 - 03:23 pm
1
1
#4

I understand the rationale behind #3 but we're not the residents who live in the area and I just don't see the dipnetters stopping at just the gills and guts once they get going.

Ain't gonna happen.

#4, is much easier to monitor and detect and enforce.

Seafarer
1147
Points
Seafarer 02/10/13 - 03:44 pm
1
0
I Vote #4 with the rest

The people in the article danced all around it, but #4 is the ONLY way to go. I see everyone on here says #4, also. Sooo, wuzzupwidat? Is this intentional?

(I hate being manipulated, but the odds are pretty good on this one.) NUMBER FOUR!

Alaskalad
55
Points
Alaskalad 02/10/13 - 04:55 pm
2
1
Charge a buck a fish

Charge everybody a dollar American to bring a fish out ($100 for a King). If it is their winter sustenance it is a cheap price. If it is for fun then maybe less fish will be taken. Also it would be a chance for us to check if the fish were taken by Alaskan residents or somebody's cousin from elsewhere.
Thanks Carolyn for getting up and saying it

BigRedDog
659
Points
BigRedDog 02/11/13 - 05:44 am
2
1
Avoid the fines

What a touchy subject, we just want our visitors to catch all the fish they need and not leave a dirty stinking mess. #4 has another reason that it's really the only viable choice. Any fish waste discharged at the beach should be held to the same standard as canneries disposing of fish waste. Grind it up or it will create the same environmental and public health risk that the canneries pay fines for when caught. So the Council is in the envious position of correcting a problem after finding out what doesn't work.
But all the fish waste carcasses guts and feathers laying around on the beach must stop. How it has gone unadressed by the F&G this long is a mystery to me. As nearly every year we hear of some cannery getting a fine for illegal discharge of fish waste. This is different you say? You might have a problem explaining how it differs to a Judge. Yes on #4

bigtalkahh
184
Points
bigtalkahh 02/13/13 - 10:45 am
1
1
Pollution Dilution

I am so glad the commenters on this page are not in charge. You all seem to be blind to both state regs and human nature. Perposterous??? Are you kidding? The beach is the best place to dispose of fish waste. Mother nature cleans the beaches at the mouth of the river twice each day. It will be a huge mistake to force people to take their fish out whole. I always do but I compost mine and end up with a very fine soil ammendment. Be assured, a large percentage will cut and leave fish waste all over the place. It happens now. Obviously, that would become a major problem. Flies, maggots, stink... all kinds of wildlife, birds and pets will be affected. DEC does not have a waste specialist at the Soldotna office anymore. You will not see much enforcement or input from the agency tasked with dealing with this problem. Alternative #2 is the best choice for city officials. The others are too expensive and totally unnecessary.

BigRedDog
659
Points
BigRedDog 02/18/13 - 07:03 am
0
0
Big Talk don't know Jack

Jack is the guy that writes the tickets for polluting when a cannery discharges improperly ground fish waste. This proceedure of grinding those carcasses up is needed to avoid a huge BALL of slime health problem. That you all seem to be blind statement is a little myopic on your part and your statement shows you DON'T understand the problem. Even with Mother Nature washing the tide in and out every 12 hours the mass amount of carcasses present have proven to result in public health problems. Canneries discharge from a pipeline near the bottum of the river on an out going tide.
Tossing the carcasses whole or even chopped a little only leaves them to wash back and forth until they settle in and decompose.
So now your telling me that Jack doesn't work here anymore so it's cool to go ahead and just trash the Beach? Gee I'm SO glad people like you aren't running things, or maybe that is the problem we got somebody that thinks like bigtalk and they are running something? Help US

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