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Short term solution for dipnet fishery: more raking and trash collection, says Kenai council

Posted: February 21, 2013 - 10:11pm

In an effort to reduce the stress for Kenai residents and the mess that comes with the dipnet fishery season, the City of Kenai will ban public parking or camping on Old Cannery Road and move forward with an alternative for managing the fishery’s waste next year, Kenai City Council voted Wednesday night.

Because the Kenai Peninsula Borough owns half of Old Cannery Road, the city is currently negotiating with the borough for Kenai to manage the entire road, Kenai Mayor Pat Porter said.

The decision — which will usher in more signs and enforcement to the area — came after council debated for nearly an hour which management option to implement for next year’s dipnet season.

Alternative two, one of six that Kenai City Manager Rick Koch outlined for the council, will increase the city’s efforts to rake fish waste to the tide line during low tides and in collecting solid waste in trash bins. It will cost the city $172,350 in signs, four-wheelers, a tractor and rake, and operating expenses.

At the meeting, council members were faced with a resolution to accept alternative three — the “gut and gill” method — for managing the fishery next year. Council voted 6-2 to kill the resolution, permitting administration to move forward with alternative two. Council Members Mike Boyle and Bob Molloy voted in favor of the resolution.

“I don’t think there’s a single one of us that hasn’t thought about the different options and wrestled with them,” Vice Mayor Ryan Marquis said, but option two is the best choice, he said.

Had alternative three been accepted, dipnetters would be permitted to gut and gill their fish on the beach but required to take the rest home whole.

While Boyle supported alternative three because it would make the beach more acceptable for foot traffic and it is a step in the right direction for Molloy, Marquis said it would be a deterrent for dipnetters who were planning to stay in Kenai for the night. He said they would probably have to go home to set their catch on ice. It would be a loss of revenue for the city, he said.

Other council members supported alternative four, removal of the whole fish from the fishery.

“If we’re going to spend the money on enforcement, we might as well spend the money to get them off the beach,” Council Member Brian Gabriel Sr. said.

Council Member Terry Bookey said he wanted the city to move forward with that alternative, too. He said the city could re-evaluate after it had used the alternative to manage for a season.

But in a Feb. 6 council meeting Koch said alternative four would encourage dipnetters to dump fish carcasses off the roads on their way home.

The alternative would also be difficult to enforce, he said, as there is a limited number of officers that patrol the fishery and they would need to see the users dumping the fish carcasses to actually enforce the management strategy.

Koch said alternative two is a staged approach to the dipnet fishery’s final solution, alternative five.

That alternative would create a system to collect and remove fish waste from the beach.

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 a document prepared by Koch.

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

Council will meet next at 7 p.m., March 6 at City Hall, 210 Fidalgo Ave.

Dan Schwartz can be reached at

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Roger104 02/23/13 - 07:54 am

While Mr. koch's concern for the rest of the state having to deal with littered salmon carcasses as a result of option #4 is commendable, his obligation should be to the citizens of Kenai, most of whom are tired of the mess left by this virtually unregulated STATE fishery that the STATE created, and tired of our city facilitating its uncontrolled expansion. As our City and many of its residents have depended on this resource for generations, it's a slap in the face that council members would be more worried about the chance of (minimal) revenue lost by sensible restrictions such as pack out or gut and gill than about the cleanliness of our beaches, the sustainability of our fisheries, or the sentiment of our residents.

bigtalkahh 02/23/13 - 01:51 pm

Thank you, Kenai for making the sensible choice.

KenaiKardinal88 02/25/13 - 03:23 pm
City Council Watch Out

The correct solution would have made it more difficult for the Woodstock crowd to litter our beaches, while allowing local residents the "advantage" of being able to process the catch at home afterwards.

The real issue is that the resident non-commercial fishers don't get to share in the state's salmon. Meanwhile, comm fishers, many of whom do not live here year round, take the bounty and leave little but trash behind.

BigRedDog 02/26/13 - 10:20 am
Where did Jack Go?

You know Jack, the guy that writes tickets for improper disposal of fish waste to Canneries all over Alaska, for years? Sure hope no active Citizen group files a lawsuit to stop this unlawful discharge of industrial porportions. For the City Council to get this envovled with City employees earning wages and benifets is wrong. The whole thing should be a concession much like all the services in Our National Parks. Someone bids the price to operate this project. The City Council gets the check.

They get parking fees and provide cleaning stations with carcass collection for rendering to catfood or fish meal! No option they collect and process all the fish waste into a product and sell it. This will employ more local seasonal workers and benifit the local private economy without bulging our City employee roles. Only then will you get the politics out of managing what could be a simple and profitable fishery we will have around hopefully a long time.

robert white
robert white 02/27/13 - 03:23 pm
dipnet fishery

What a can of worms, When I hear about people who get 30,40,50 or 100 fish using a $30,000 boat, somethings wrong! This fishery needs to be shut down!! just my opinion

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