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Board to tackle thorny Cook Inlet issues

Posted: March 16, 2013 - 9:14pm

What to do when the Kenai River late-run king salmon may not meet escapement is up for discussion in Anchorage, in hopes that users and managers can find a solution before the start of the 2013 fishery.

The Board of Fisheries will take up the Cook Inlet issue at its statewide finfish meeting March 19 to 24, with discussion on the late-run management plan scheduled to come up March 20.

A task force comprised of fisheries users, and co-chaired by board members Vince Webster and Tom Kluberton, has made several recommendations that will be considered during discussion of a placeholder proposal to address the management plan.

The task force did not come to consensus on most issues, but did agree to recommend a July 21 trigger date for management measures and to manage the East Side setnet fishery by emergency order for harvesting sockeye salmon when there is a possible shortfall of kings.

The task force also discussed, but did not agree on, an optimal escapement goal of 13,000 to 30,000 fish, and various paired restrictions for in-river and ocean users. Those include restricting to no bait, a cap on fishing time for setnetters, going to catch-and-release at a certain point for sport fishermen, and restrictions for the marine sport fishery.

The board could adopt the management measures discussed by the task force, come up with its own ideas, or wait until the Cook Inlet board meeting in 2014 to take any action.

Kenai River king management is just one of 29 proposals up for the board’s consideration at the statewide meeting.

The Kenai River Sportfishing Association submitted another, which will be considered as part of a batch of statewide proposals.

The Kenai River proposal would have fisheries managers turn first to its management plan and exhaust those tools before looking for other ways to manage a fishery, but would still have emergency order authority to fall back on to ensure that various management goals are met, particularly in mixed-stock fisheries.

That proposal developed out of what is already in regulation for Cook Inlet, but not other parts of the state, according to the KRSA proposal.

Another statewide proposal would mandate that chinook salmon are managed as a priority.

Two proposals address allocation issues. One would assert that no user group can receive 100 percent of the rights to harvest fish in a certain area, while another would create a weighted system, with each user group receiving certain points, and a decision made based on that point system. Alaskans would benefit from that because there would be more clarity in how allocation decisions are made.

Another proposal intended to aid in the public’s understanding of fisheries management would create a dictionary of management terminology.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has also asked for some management clarity in a proposal to amend the closed waters associated with salmon streams. Currently, some commercial fishing violations are based on incorrect interpretations of closed waters, and the proposal would address that.

The Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association has submitted a proposal that, if the board adopts, would require sustained escapement threshold for all stocks that are listed as a yield or management concern. That would better enable managers to determine if a stock was a conservation concern, according to the proposal.

Later in the meeting, the board will tackle certain sport fishing practices and terminology.

Among the changes up for consideration would authorize the department to restrict sport proxy fishing by emergency order, prohibit high grading, allow an increased bag and possession limit for the spiny dogfish shark, allow disabled or handicapped fishermen to use footgear with felt soles, ban the use of lead weights when sport fishing, and clarify the use of sport-caught bait. License and reporting proposals would create a mandatory reporting system for sport fishing, specify harvest record reporting requirements, and address situations where duplicate licenses are issued.

There are also proposals in to define the term ‘compensation.’ That was proposed by ADFG, and would clarify what sport fishing guiding is. According to the proposal, it would make it more difficult to avoid guiding regulations because there would be less ambiguity.

On the commercial side, the board will look at allowing groundfish registration by additional methods, allowing additional means of notification for emergency order announcements, and requiring a Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission permit holder to have proof of identification at certain times. Another proposal would also create a policy for how the board addresses permit stacking.

The board will also consider several area-specific proposals at the statewide meeting.

Those include a change to the Chignik District tanner crab weather delay criteria, changes to the Aleutian Islands red king crab regulations, and a change in the closed water at the Tsiu River for the Yakutat Salmon fishery.

Molly Dischner can be reached at molly.dischner@alaskajournal.com.

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northernlights
216
Points
northernlights 03/16/13 - 10:08 pm
2
0
Kings

Put the pressures of money off to the side and close the kenai river down. No one needs a king salmon, not for survival or for the wall. Shut the river down and let it heal, and let the kings heal.

pengy
250
Points
pengy 03/17/13 - 06:43 am
1
0
not just the Kenai

I'd be in favor of shutting down the Kenai to king fishing if only the Kenai was having problems with the return. Years ago that worked great on the Deshka because only the Deshka was having a king problem and the stock rebounded nicely. The problem now is almost every river in the state is having problems with king returns. This is an ocean problem and not a freshwater problem. Yes, sportfish should see restrictions but the focus needs to be out in the ocean.

kenai123
1312
Points
kenai123 03/17/13 - 10:04 pm
1
1
northernlights , pengy,

Deciding on who to shut-down in and around Cook Inlet is meaningless. You are correct pengy, the king problem is in the ocean and directly west and south of Kodiak.

Cook Inlet's fisheries have been pushed to the max. but that is not what has finished off our king salmon. Our focus needs to be on the systematic commercial fisheries abuse out in our ocean. That commercial abuse has reached into what king salmon need to feed on. If you are really interested in where all our king salmon have gone, you are going to have to do some reading. The King Salmon Task Force People are not going to tell you the problem or solution because they are primarily motivated by $$$. The reasons for our missing kings are simpler than most would believe. Juvenal king salmon exclusively feed on crab larvae until they are able to begin feeding on larger prey. Unfortunately sockeye salmon and pollock are consuming most of these crab larvae, thus many of our juvenal kings are starving to death. If you would like to read the details they are located at http://www.voy.com/177140/152.html?z=1

robert white
378
Points
robert white 03/18/13 - 10:03 am
0
0
kings

We need to do what ever it takes to give the kings a chance to recover. Once their gone everyones going to point fingers. no bait june and july and while your at it, curb that mess on the lower kenai(dipping)

kenai123
1312
Points
kenai123 03/18/13 - 12:03 pm
1
2
robert white, what ever it takes?

What is your definition of "once they are gone"? Our commercial fisheries have been tearing up our ocean for about 30 years now and that abuse has finally been felt by those who have not been watching. The fact that you instantly begin pointing fingers locally shows that you are one of those who "has not been watching" and now wants to blame someone else locally for what is clearly happening out in the ocean. You need to start listening, if you do not want to believe me call the ADF&G, maybe you will believe them. The king problem is statewide, not in only the Kenai River, not with your latest complain or dipping, it is and always has been in the ocean. Our kings are being killed within commercial by-catch everywhere and most stupidly within the diet of juvenal kings in the ocean as their crab larvae feed has gone totally missing.as it has been no doubt been wiped out by billions of pollock and sockeye's.

I will tell you what it will take to fix our king problem! It will take all of Cook Inlet being closed to gill netting because they wiped out the kings. That is what it has to come to because we all know that our gill netters will not lift a single finger to help our kings usless that finger is forced. So in your own words, WHAT EVER IT TAKES.

Sargjoefriday
4
Points
Sargjoefriday 03/18/13 - 07:58 pm
1
0
no kings no fishing

talk, talk, talk!!! no fish no fishing, everyone agrees what's the problem.

RUKidding2
12
Points
RUKidding2 03/18/13 - 09:55 pm
1
0
All finger-pointing + no action = NO KINGS

I am sick and tired of all the user groups pointing the fingers at each other and claiming a single blame on the Kenai king decline. Its been a group effort, we're all partially to blame, we've all contributed to the issue.

Mother Nature
Deep sea commercial fishing
Cook Inlet commercial fishing
Guided fishing
Private sport-fishing
Dipnetting
Its a classic case of "tragedy of the commons", and until we all own up and accept our share of the blame, especially those exploiting the resource for $$$, the kings will continue to decline. Im tired of the whining & finger-pointing, so how about we all own up so we can save our Kenai kings.

Kapco
148
Points
Kapco 03/19/13 - 10:05 am
1
0
We need answers...

Shutting down sport fishing for kings and, even coupling that with set net closures will not solve the king issue. Yes, there are those that "exploit" the king resource for money as RUKidding2 puts it. We can and have had king runs that could withstand harvest and still flourish and at the same time allow for small businesses to operate and contribute to our locally economy. Now that the runs are down we are faced with coming up with solutions and no matter how you slice it, nothing can truly be accomplished unless we tackle the man made "ocean conditions" that we can do something about. There may be higher competition for food between species out there along with any number of other natural issues the fish may encounter. Nature seeks equilibrium and seems to do a good job if left alone to keep things going. If you interject the removal of 200,000 plus adult and sub-adult kings out of the various gene pools of king runs state wide by way of by catch, it is pretty clear that this will have the most impact on declining runs--state wide. I am not saying that all participants don't need to make concessions--especially in times of low abundance (which is what the task of this force was about) but until we can reduce or ideally, remove the impact of human made by catch, we are on an uphill climb with no real light at the end of the tunnel.

Raoulduke
3055
Points
Raoulduke 03/19/13 - 10:47 am
0
0
answer

Over 600,000 opinions on telling people what,and how.The Alaskan independent spirit comes in to play.When everyone stands around saying" Don't tell me what to do.No one truly cares as long as They get theirs.A good example is the health hazard left on the beach during dip net season.Go figure. Everyone receives the political practice of "I don't want to hurt my chances for a reelection attitude,or lose my chance for advancement.Then there isn't anything done.I figure No political intestinal fortitude as the main problem.

Roger104
137
Points
Roger104 03/20/13 - 07:01 am
2
1
What the scientists say:

ADF&G's best available information and top scientists are telling us that we are experiencing a period of low marine productivity for this stock (something that is normal and that these stocks have experinced and recovered from before) combined with low inriver productivity from multiple past years of record high escapement levels. These two factors combined for low returns the past several years. Sounds like a very logical and scientifically defensible conclusion to me. If so, we should see some recovery soon.

Let's not make this into something it's not. The sky may not be falling.

kenai123
1312
Points
kenai123 03/20/13 - 10:57 am
1
2
Roger104

Right, "THE SKY IS NOT FALLING!" Let's see when was last time someone told me that one? Oh ya, that was from my stock broker just before the crash. Yeah, that's seems to be the one thing folks grab onto just before the sky comes crashing down from where it cannot fall. Why should we mistrust the ADF&G after all they are right in there with the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, National Marine Fisheries Service, and Alaska Board of Fisheries, who have run our herring, crab, pollock, halibut and king salmon into the ground. I don't know if you have been watching but these stocks are not healthy the only thing which is healthy are sockeye, everything else is at different levels of collapse statewide. So I guess the sky must be the sockeye's and they are like you said absolutely not falling.

Raoulduke
3055
Points
Raoulduke 03/20/13 - 12:02 pm
0
1
pay

Just where does the paycheck come from for these scientist's?Are they state employees? Well! Like all other state employees.They want to keep employed for their retirement benefits.They act just like any other state politico.Where no answer will be found.When you run in circles.

borninak
657
Points
borninak 03/20/13 - 02:51 pm
0
0
Stocks Recovered Nicely

Funny Kenai123 mentions the stock market crash, because if he paid attention he would see the market came back to an all time high today again. You see it cycles just like salmon runs do. I've fished Cook Inlet for 40 years and one the one thing that has remained constant is fluctuating run sizes for kings and sockeye. In the 70's Cook Inlet Sockeye runs were small for quite a few years and everyone thought it was all over then. Narrow minded thinkers fall into this trap repeatedly over the decades. The sky is always falling. Good times don't last forever and neither do the bad. I would trust the professional Fish & Game biologists on this one. Like it or not, they are intelligent SCIENTISTS with much more integrity than the posters ragging on them without any of the facts (or conjured up facts) and living in their dream world. I find it shameful that the last 2 posters berated the scientists of ADF&G, NMFS, board of fish and other agencies. Sad really.

Kapco
148
Points
Kapco 03/20/13 - 03:57 pm
0
0
Please direct me to the study...

Roger104 and/or borninak, please, direct me to the studies that show how high escapement levels of kings, not any other species, results in lower numbers in the future. I have looked hard without success to find those studies. Appreciate the help if you can give it.

seariver
17
Points
seariver 03/21/13 - 05:33 pm
1
0
kenai123

"our gill netters will not lift a single finger to help our kings" says kenai123.

This attempt at sensationalism in multiple posts is pathetic. 123's suggestion to others (apparently to afford them the wonderful enlightenment that he enjoys) that they "do some reading" is exactly the suggestion which 123 would do well to heed. 123's claims are without merit, offensive and seemingly designed to inflame but not to offer constructive contribution. I have been a commercial fisherman working from the Columbia River to Bristol Bay since 1974. Per 123's blathering, just what was it that we commercial fisherman started doing in the mid 80's that begat "tearing up our ocean for about 30 years now" ? I get it that 123 is angry. I have to muse some if that isn't in fact 123's natural state. Kenai123's contributions here (I use the word lightly) will contribute to the problem while 123's attempts to accuse, judge, condemn & sensationalize add nothing and will fade as quickly as a mornings dusting of snow on a late March afternoon.

kenai123
1312
Points
kenai123 03/23/13 - 01:57 am
1
1
Endangered Species Designation

"Good morning ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. It looks like we have been cleared by the Alaska Board of Fisheries to begin our decent to our destination. We are currently preparing the aircraft to begin our approach below published minimum safe Kenai king escapement limits. In a few minutes we will start our descent to our Federal King Salmon Endangered Species Designation. I would like to ask everyone to please return to their seats and place their seats and tray tables back into the upright and locked position. Charter boat captains and gill netters, please make sure all carry-on Board of Fish proposal books, broken rods and gill nets are stored under seats or in the over-head bins. Stupidity Airlines would like to welcome you to King Salmon Hell and we thank you all for not fishing with us, as we know that you could have decided to not fish with any airlines."

kenai123
1312
Points
kenai123 03/22/13 - 02:37 am
2
1
seariver, I agree.

seariver, I agree with your 30 - 40 year time range regarding the 1970's and 80's. That is about the right amount of time necessary to fix what ever is wrong in our ocean. Regarding sensationalism, name the point which you term sensational and I will post the references. Regarding pathetic and fading postings; I guarantee that you will never attempt to directly address any of my ocean / commercial fishing points because #1 you will never invest the time to actually research any of these issues and #2 because you suspect that I am correct. On top of it all you are just hoping there is nothing wrong within our saltwater commercial fisheries. Put up or shut-up seariver. I'll say it again, our gill netters will not lift a single finger to help our kings. If this is not accurate please name anything set gill netters have ever done for our kings? I can think of a lot of claims but the reality is self serving statements like I release kings all the time from my nets! Pretty great right? What about the next net up the beach doing the same and the next until it's head is tore off? It's all good, right seariver? Except you wouldn't want to actually contest a specific point because you know what would happen. Instead you just sit back and post general actuations without meaning.

Sensationalism, pathetic, inflame, fading with the snow? All those meaningless words without a single point which could be tested to reveal the truth. I know, truth isn't the issue right? The issue is to have the world chase their tails while you commercially over-harvest a fishery and then move on to Bristol Bay or the Columbia River. Well I'm not moving on, I live here and I am forced to deal with what ever mess you create in our ocean.

kenai123
1312
Points
kenai123 03/24/13 - 01:47 am
2
1
borninak,

borninak, what is really sad is how you commercial fishermen really love to talk about general issues. Regarding cycles in the stock market and our oceans all being natural and okay. Are you serious? There is rarely anything natural about fluctuations in the stock market. People get greedy and like to try to get away with illegal and just plain dumb actions to make the a dollar. The same happens within our oceans, commercial fisheries get greedy and will do anything to just be able to catch one more fish. Our oceans do have their natural cycles but they are minor when compared to what commercial fisheries cause.
If our oceans and rivers were left to themselves we would always have some level of fisheries, we would not see the feast or famine we have been seeing within all of our fisheries. I predict that if you were living back in 1959, when the commercial fish traps (wiped out) all of our salmon, you would have claim a "fluctuation" in our salmon runs. They were wiped out by only commercial fishing, not a natural cycle..

Alaska used to have thousands of square miles of Southeast waters filled with major herring spawning areas. Now with only Sitka Sound remaining as a major herring spawning area, we in Alaska have come face to face with a tremendous lack of king salmon. Most areas which had swelling populations of herring now host much smaller, severely depleted or even nonexistent populations. Alaska used to have many herring reduction plants going 24 hours per day, year around as our commercial fisheries could not catch all of the herring. Alaska had thousands of people employed as they worked continuous shifts trying to process and ship out our fisheries bounty. Our bays were so over-flowing with herring that docks and harbors were inundated with them as anyone could catch them just about anywhere.
I guess we just got "fluctuated" by commercial fishing again.

In 1980 Bering Sea, (red king crab) commercial harvests peaked at 130 million pounds. That commercial over-harvest then caused a red king crab (crash) from then on until today where we now expect about a 15 million pound harvest. (15 million is 11% of 130 million) I guess we got "fluctuated" by commercial fishing again.

Nobody expects to see your "good times" all the time but they also don't expects to see fisheries bonanza's and famine's which in most cases is cause by human actions.

Regarding your INTELLIGENT SCIENTISTS. Where were these scientists back and 1959 when the feds., driven by commercial special interests, destroyed our statewide salmon fisheries? Doesn't that tell you anything about the nature of the commercial beast? It carries the natural ability to destroy if not strictly controlled.

Regarding "conjured up facts" again state the specific fact or just do not expect to be taken seriously.

Regarding the ADF&G, NMFS, board of fish and other agencies. I admit that in general these agencies do a lot of good work but unfortunately they are specifically controlled by special interests. Because these agencies are ultimately controlled by money, no sane person should fully or blindly trust them like you do. That blind trust is what is truly sad.

kenai123
1312
Points
kenai123 03/22/13 - 03:40 am
1
0
.

.

kenai123
1312
Points
kenai123 03/24/13 - 02:09 am
1
0
Alaska Board of Fish members

Alaska Board of Fish members are appointed by the governor. The governor selects these persons from within special interest groups, which favor the administration and are confirmable by the legislator. Most governor's believe this to be a good way to get experts to manage our fisheries. The state turns a blind eye to the fact that these board members are under constant suspect. How could anyone cast an honest vote with an open mind, if they stand to personally lose millions of dollars as a result of that vote? Would you vote for yourself to lose millions of dollar or for your life long friends to lose their fisheries jobs? The only place you will see this kind of foolishness is in Alaska. Everyone else has basically made it illegal to stack boards like this in the lower 48 states. This is why many of our fisheries problems can go on for decades. A solution may be right in front of our faces but our special interest boards fail to act in many cases just because of their personal special interests. They actually believe that if they just announce "I have a conflict of interest" the conflict goes away and everything is okay again! All we need are intelligent board members with expert ADF&G advisers. We do not need "expert board of fish members". This "special interest board member way of thinking" has caused many of today's non-solvable fisheries problems.
A prime example is our current statewide king salmon problem. If a king solution presented itself today and it involved shutting down a major industry which board members had financial interests in, what do you
think would happen? Do you actually believe a board member would vote to financially ruin themselves or their friends?

"It is not possible to solve a problem using the same way of thinking which created the problem in the first place." Albert Einstein

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