Regulatory proposals, volumes for Cook Inlet fish

Bow hunting and northern pike fishery among the 394 pages

Dave Lyon, of Homer, wants to catch fish using a bow and arrow in Cook Inlet saltwater.


Brent Johnson, a setnetter who fishes South of Clam Gulch, wants setnetters to be able to use Selective Harvest Modules — essentially a seine and lead designed to release king salmon alive — in lieu of their typical gillnet gear.

The Kenai River Sportfishing Association submitted several proposals including one that would abolish the in-river goal for sockeye salmon on the Kenai River and another that would prohibit permit stacking in the commercial set and drift gillnet fisheries in the Upper Cook Inlet.

Each proposal was summarized and released by the Alaska Board of Fisheries in advance of its 2013-2014 board cycle, during which board members will consider a mammoth selection of proposals pertaining to the Cook Inlet.

While the proposal book statewide pacific cod, Chignik finfish, Kodiak finfish and statewide king and tanner crab issues, the vast majority of the 394-page document contains proposals directly relating to Upper and Lower Cook Inlet fisheries.

John McCombs, a drift fisherman from Ninilchik, was among the more prolific proposal writers.

McCombs, who said he has been fishing in the Cook Inlet since 1981 and participating in the board process for almost as long, submitted nine proposals this year.

Among his proposals was one that would put a limit on the amount of sport-caught fish that can be exported from the state; another that would allow commercial fishing in the central district of the Cook Inlet to remain open until closed by emergency order; one that would change the sockeye salmon escapement goal on the Kenai River; another that would mandate closures in the in-river and personal use fishing on the Kenai River when commercial setnet fishermen are restricted and one that would establish a commercial fishery for Northern Pike in the Upper Cook Inlet.

Some ideas, like the proposal to limit fish that could be exported, have already been considered by board during one of its three-year cycles to address Cook Inlet issues.

“I put out a lot of proposals,” McCombs said. “One year, I wrote 31 proposals and every one of them got voted down.”

McCombs said six of the proposals he submitted — including one that would require the Board of Fish to meet in the area affected by regulatory decisions it is considering — were rejected.

He said a lot of his proposals were designed to promote discussion among board members about how fisheries in the Upper Cook Inlet were being managed.

“It doesn’t take me that long to write those proposals,” he said. “It took me a couple of hours, but what’s a couple of hours in the course of a year or in the course of trying to preserve your livelihood.”

The Kenai River Sportfishing Association, a prominent sportfishing advocacy organization, submitted several proposals as well.

Among them are ones that would maintain the optimum escapement goal of early run Kenai River king salmon, revise management plans on the Kenai and Kasilof River early run kings to restrict fishing during low runs and increase angler opportunity on large-run years, another would pair restrictions between sport, personal use and commercial fishermen to meet a king salmon escapement goal on the Kenai River and one that would restrict commercial setnet gear types.

Another proposal would change the upper end of the in-river goal range for sockeye on the Kenai River, to be more consistent with the other sockeye goals on the river.

Currently there are three sockeye salmon goals for the Kenai River: an in-river goal, a sustainable escapement goal and an optimum escapement goal. Two of the goals — the in-river and optimum escapement goals — are in regulation.

According to the KRSA proposal, when the in-river goal for sockeye salmon is exceeded it can trigger actions in the commercial fisheries that conflict with the intent of the management plans for other types of fish, including Kenai River King Salmon and “It is unclear which goal should drive management when both cannot be achieved,”

Others among the 12 proposals submitted by the sportfish association included an earlier start to the coho salmon bag limit on the Kenai River and a prohibition on commercial fishing permit stacking in the Cook Inlet.

Proposals for the Lower Cook Inlet will be considered December 8-11 in Anchorage and public comments on those proposals are due to the Board of Fisheries by Nov. 19., for Upper Cook Inlet finfish board members will meet Jan. 31 to Feb. 13, 2014 and comments are due by Jan. 17, 2014.

Anyone, individuals and organizations, can submit proposals to the board and comments on the proposals can be mailed, faxed or submitted online to the Board of Fisheries.


Rashah McChesney can be reached at


Sun, 05/20/2018 - 21:51

The joy of the fight