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Kenai to ban dipnet fish waste from beaches

Posted: April 23, 2013 - 9:15pm

The City of Kenai will fine individuals dumping fish carcasses and other refuse on its beaches in an effort to keep the North and South beaches clean during the July dipnet fishery season. The city now requires that dipnetters dump fish waste into the water.

City Manager Rick Koch said fish parts collected in piles and rotted on the beach last dipnet season. Area residents testified to the council that seagulls had dumped fish heads in their yards.

Koch described last year’s scene as “unsanitary, unsightly and uncomfortable.”

As part of its dipnet management plan, the Kenai City Council passed an ordinance at its April 17 meeting to prohibit fish waste and trash dumping on beaches, among other places, and reduced the associated fine from $500 to $150.

The city will also place Dumpsters along North Beach and additional Dumpsters along South Beach, hire two more temporary enforcement officers, and rake the fish waste to the low tide line more frequently, Koch said.

The management steps will cost the city about $172,350, according to a document Koch prepared for a Jan. 7 council meeting. The cost includes the purchase of a tractor and rake to comb the fish waste to the shoreline, more signage, additional four-wheelers for enforcement officers, and increased operating costs, according to the document.

“We’re not doing anything different than we did before, just doing more of it,” Koch said.

At the early January council meeting, Koch outlined six options for addressing the annual dipnet fishery issues. The council chose what Koch said is the least expensive option, aside from inaction.

The additional Dumpsters and the increased fine enforcement should deter dumping of fish carcasses and trash on the beach, he said.

“Hopefully folks will walk a hundred feet to throw something away,” he said.

The city reduce the dumping fine to discourage violators from fighting the citation in court, he said.

“It’s not about the money; it’s about trying to get their attention,” he said.

A $150 ticket is still high enough to discourage violating the law, but it is low enough that it will likely not be challenged in court, he said. As some of the temporary enforcement officers are college students and may intermittently be out of state, he said it would be difficult scheduling court appearances.

Raking the fish waste in the water will also reduce the amount of bacteria that builds up in the water, said Tim Stevens, Department of Environmental Conservation environmental program specialist for the division of water.

Stevens said the majority of the bacteria found in the water likely comes from bird guano. He said they feed on the fish parts on the beach and then leave their droppings in the water.

“Getting it back into the water helps us get it back into the tide and the ocean,” Stevens said. Once in the ocean, he said, the birds frequent the beach less.

He said it is also less likely that birds will drop fish heads and other large fish parts on area resident’s lawns if the waste is washed out in the ocean.

Koch said some of the fish waste tends to wash back initially, but after it is raked back several times the tides take it all.

In past dipnet seasons the seagulls have hovered over the beach in clouds, eager for the fish carcasses, he said.

Stevens said DEC would prefer the city eventually compost or turn the fish waste into fish meal, rather than raking it out to sea. But Koch said the city’s steps are only building up to a more permanent solution.

Stevens said DEC will monitor the ocean during the dipnet season to see the effects raking the fish waste out to sea will have on the bacteria levels in the water.

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

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KenaiJames
6
Points
KenaiJames 04/24/13 - 08:21 am
3
0
Fish Grinder ???

They need something like a big grinder/shredder like they use for tree branches and make everyone deposit fish in it. The smaller pieces can be consumed by smaller fish and no big pieces for seagulls to carry away. They could have a temporary pipe far enough out into the water so the current could take it away and not affect the dipnetters on shore. Just a thought.

northernlights
220
Points
northernlights 04/24/13 - 08:24 am
1
0
Getting volunteers educated to teach

If people know that they are being watched they have more of a chance of disposing their fish properly. Having volunteers wearing the same coats and shirts so the public knows who they are really makes an impact. Having our presence on the rivers and educatingthe people about staying off the banks and cutting up the fish carcasses into pieces before throwing into the water made a huge difference! When we volunteered last year for river watch, we told them that by keeping their items off the bank would save them a ticket of up to $175.00, many of them thanked us plus most of them had no idea of the damage they were causing. Having uniformed volunteers with training will make a difference. I used to destroy our banks until I was taught, no one can ever rise above than what they have been taught. So lets teach.

Seafarer
1147
Points
Seafarer 04/24/13 - 08:36 am
1
1
Temporary Employees

Why are the temp. enforcement jobs going to college kids from out of state? People HERE need jobs! That would be a killer job to me. Where is the jobs advertised? Seattle? In this paper? Or, not at all and somebody knows somebody's kid in college and I'll pat yours if you pat mine...

Seafarer
1147
Points
Seafarer 04/24/13 - 08:40 am
0
0
To Kenai James>

That is exactly how they do it at the processors.

kenairesident
68
Points
kenairesident 04/24/13 - 01:10 pm
2
1
out of state college kids

just because kids are going to school out-of-state doesnt mean they are not locals. There are many of our local kids that go to school elsewhere and come home during the summer to make money to go back to school.
I have never dipnetted on the beach, but have seen pictures of the waste.. this is a big step towards cleaning it up and hope it helps!

RAT
14
Points
RAT 04/24/13 - 01:53 pm
1
6
Setnetter dumping

This is great, how about including fines for the East side setnetters.

kenairiverbandit
76
Points
kenairiverbandit 04/24/13 - 04:28 pm
2
0
too cheep

Leave the fine at 500 bucks. Bad behavior should not be rewarded with a small fine. Hit people in their pocketbooks and they will be more likely to change their ways.
KRB

Dennis S
3
Points
Dennis S 04/25/13 - 03:52 am
1
0
Potential Problem

In Kodiak a few years ago an Eagle died when birds were diving into a waste bin. Let's make sure these new bins have a cover to keep birds out.

vickiel
255
Points
vickiel 04/25/13 - 05:31 am
3
1
fish waste

Why would you fine East Side Setnetters??? they do not gut and filet fish on the beach they deliver whole fish. Sounds like you are a in river commercial fisherman.

shadowmt
78
Points
shadowmt 04/25/13 - 06:17 am
3
0
Koch got what HE wanted

A new tractor and 4-wheelers for the city!
Instead of listening to the public he got new toys for the city.
All they had to do was fine people who did not take their fish home whole.

5akman
60
Points
5akman 04/25/13 - 08:36 am
2
1
RAT, setnetter dumping? What

RAT, setnetter dumping? What are you talking about?

RAT
14
Points
RAT 04/25/13 - 10:39 am
1
1
you haven't noticed the sand

you haven't noticed the sand sharks and hundreds of flounder that are dumped in the dipping area along with king heads, cruise the beach south of the access a day or two after an opening

Media Critic
87
Points
Media Critic 04/26/13 - 04:19 am
1
0
Out of state college kids? More like city worker kids.

http://peninsulaclarion.com/news/2011-08-03/beach-clean-up-process-underway

I guess somebody has to clean up all those fish heads. Just count them all, too. The city is raising money to spend money and has been for a long time.

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