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Kenai releases prelim 2013 dipnet report

Highlights trials and tribulations documented for late July fishery

Posted: November 28, 2013 - 6:39pm  |  Updated: November 29, 2013 - 9:44am

As revenues for the City of Kenai’s dipnet fishery approach the $500,000 mark, city employees reported positive and negative changes in the prosecution of a fishery that continues to grow in popularity.

The short, high volume sockeye run eased overtime hour pressure on city employees and new requirements for the disposal of fish waste, a new fee processing system and higher fees resulted in a cleaner, more efficiently prosecuted personal-use fishery that generated higher fee revenue for the city.

However, increased four-wheeler traffic, confusion over the new fee structure and a high volume of boats in the mouth of the river left the city searching for logistical solutions in the increasingly popular fishery.

The city has proposed to leave the fee structure in place but proposed clarifications to regulations that will be discussed by the Kenai City Council during a Jan. 6, 2014 work session on the report.

While the city budgeted for revenues and expenditures of $483,152, the actual revenues and expenditures came in at about $40,000 less according to the preliminary dipnet report. Non-grant revenues increased by $78,000, or more than 20 percent of the previous year primarily as the result of the city’s increase in fees.

A change in the method for city departments to report their dipnet related expenditures allowed finance director Terry Eubanks to account for this year’s expenditures much more efficiently than in previous years, he said in an interview prior to the release of the draft report.

More than $109,000 of personal-use fishery funds were used to pay salaries and benefits, significantly less than the $188,978 for which the city originally budgeted, according to the report.

One issue city administration hopes to address, said City Manager Rick Koch, was a 2013 change in the Alaska Court System’s interpretation of code which requires the city to deliver citations in-person.

“If somebody is parked in a no-parking area our cops can’t give them a ticket unless they stand there and hand it to them,” Koch said.

It’s something he hopes will be addressed during the upcoming legislative session, however if it isn’t the city administration recommends a change in city code to allow for an internal process — including a city appointed “hearing officer” to eliminate the city’s need to use the Alaska Court System to process certain types of citations.

Koch said he would recommend to city council that the change be made before the 2014 dipnet season.

Another growing issue with the fishery, Koch said, is the increasing number of boats that congregate near the mouth of the river and out into the inlet.

“I think people have really got their arms around, the way to do this is out of a boat,” Koch said. “It’s much more efficient to do it in a boat than it is to stand out there in water up to your armpits.”

But, the increasing boat traffic, both from the city docks and launches farther upstream is causing a dangerous situation at the mouth of the river, Koch said.

“There were so many boats and people not driving their boats in a safe manner and there was more than one boat that sunk down there this year,” Koch said. “They managed to save themselves and we didn’t have involvement other than hearing about it.”

The city made some effort during the season to determine who had authority to regulate the area.

“The Coast Guard said ‘not us’ which I can’t believe, because if you’re on water — based on my knowledge — the Coast Guard has authority,” Koch said.

According to the Coast Guard’s 2012 operations manual and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, it does hold jurisdiction over the entire Cook Inlet and at least a portion of the Kenai River.

Still, in the absence of any agency volunteering to regulate the increasingly congested boat situation, Koch said the city attorney was researching authorities and responsibilities.

“Who has authority? Does public safety? The troopers? Does the city because we own the underlying land under the river, does that mean that we have authority and that’s inside the city limits? So we’re going to figure that out for next year,” Koch said.

A three-night closure of city access points to the fishery in 2013 was also addressed in the report after city employees had to monitor the safety of overnight campers due to high tides during the season.

Going forward, city administration may choose to close public access to the fishery to allow heavy equipment onto the beach to remove fish waste in both the Dumpsters and along the shore, according to the report.

Koch said the distinction between access to the fishery and a fishery closure was an important one.

“We could not close the fishery. We don’t have the authority to close the fishery,” he said. “We would close access to the beach. Boats could be out there. There are other parts of the bank that people could be on ... the places that we would close it would be for the safety of the public so we could operate heavy equipment and rake the beach and empty the garbage and service the toilets and it would just be our property. We own the beach.”

 

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19581958
77
Points
19581958 11/30/13 - 09:37 am
2
0
Another Fishery Heading for Failure

The State is having a tough time managing the Kenai River King Salmon fishery. Now we have another problem with who's in charge of making sure no one either hurts themselfs, or someone else. I guess the feds, city, or state will wait to take charge untill some kid drowns either from a boat or on shore while thousands of people watch from each side of the mouth of Kenai. This is another fishery close to home that by far is running out of control. Lets make this fishery safe and clean to our environment before talking about how much profit the city made.

KMarx
177
Points
KMarx 11/30/13 - 05:06 pm
1
1
Re-Read the article

The article says that revenues and expenditures were roughly equal. That would translate to no profit, no loss.

19581958
77
Points
19581958 11/30/13 - 05:55 pm
2
0
Tax Income from Dip Netters (KMarx)

How much money did the city make in additional sales tax revenue from the thousands of people buying goods, eating, and lodgeing while staying in Kenai for the Dip Net Fishery? I'm sure there was some money made. I did read the article again and didn't see any mention of this. All that was mentioned was user fee's, does this include city tax income? The bottom line is this fishery is in line for failure at some point. Just like the King fishery. Mother Nature can only handle so much pressure, and then she will snap back with a vengeance.

KMarx
177
Points
KMarx 12/01/13 - 12:01 am
2
0
Tax income

I don't know how much additional sales tax income the City sees during the three weeks of the fishery, but if I guessed I don't think it's a huge amount. Most people are from Anchorage and except for buying gas to go home probably get all their groceries in Anchorage before coming to the Peninsula It's a good question though. I agree the dip net fishery was never well thought out and simply thrust upon the City of Kenai by the State.

Raoulduke
2889
Points
Raoulduke 12/01/13 - 03:54 am
0
0
FEES-TAXES

User FEES are not the same as SALES TAX revenues.So! I am not surprised.These were not mentioned.

19581958
77
Points
19581958 12/01/13 - 01:47 pm
2
0
Check Point Needed

I have only been on the beach once during the Dip Net fishery, this was like two or three years ago. My son was working as a summer worker for the city down on the beach during this mad rush of dip netting. When I drove down the hill to the beach (North Side) I was surprised that we were not asked for an ID to verify that we were residents. I know this must sound extreme. I did take notice while I was walking the beach with my son that no officials either from the state or city were checking permits or fish in possession. Maybe we should think about having a full time check point for entering and exiting. Is there a check point in place already?

kenai123
1312
Points
kenai123 12/07/13 - 06:30 pm
1
1
Anchorage dip net preparation

Anchorage dip net preparation before going down to the mouth of the Kenai River. First I went down and purchased a new dip net for $145, then I went to Fred Meyers and purchased $155 worth of food for our weekend fishing trip, two $30 ice chests and dip net permits for all of us. Then I purchase $125 worth of fuel for my truck and $57 dollars of fuel for my boat. Then we all piled in and took off for the Kenai River. Had lunch at Gwen's Lodge $102 and arrived in Soldotna and had dinner at the Soldotna Inn $137 and paid $149 of lodging that night. The next day we had breakfast at McDonald $48 and headed for the mouth of the Kenai River. Hit a monster half-a-mile long line at the boat launch and then paid $20 to the city of Kenai to launch our boat. We dip netted seventeen sockeye salmon, had a really great time and headed for home. Stopped at a local espresso booth for enough coffee to keep from falling asleep on the drive back $17 and drove straight through.

We spent $1,016 for 17 sockeye salmon, that's about $60 - $70 per salmon but we had a really great time and figure it was worth it. At 10 pounds of meat per fish I figure that 170 pounds of fish would have cost $1,700 at $10 per pound at Fred's. I paid $1,016 for it so I saved around $700. This is just one families dip netting experience, where does what I paid out figure into the above article? "$500,000 worth of actual revenues"? Are you completely mad? It would only take 500 families to match this "annual actual revenues figure" and I saw about 500 people out there just the one day I was there. I therefore would estimate that the State of Alaska is receiving at least $500,000 worth of actual revenues each day the public can go dip netting at the mouth of the Kenai River. Since the fishery is open most of July that would hit around the $15 - $20 million dollar annual revenues figure.

I find this article to be very misleading with regard to the actual value this fishery is to the residents of Alaska. How could anyone point to a half a million dollar operational price tag and completely ignore the fact that this fishery is generating millions of dollars for the State of Alaska, very very poor reporting.

joeray
13
Points
joeray 12/08/13 - 03:40 am
1
1
Actual value to local businesses in Kenai of DipNet Fishery.

I believe the DipNet fishery has been very beneficial to the businesses located near the lower Kenai River. My law office had six new clients who were cited for violations of the rules and regulations; mostly new residents of Alaska who have not lived in Alaska a full year to qualify for a residential license or they received a residential fishing license in some other state. Either of these two situations will act as a bar to an Alaskan being qualified to participate in the Dip Net Fishery. Those six new clients paid my legal assistants salary for several months, paid my law office rent and my law office's phone bill. Did the City of Kenai take this income into consideration in determining the true value to the City of Kenai (and it's local businesses) of the Dip Net fishery? I doubt it...

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