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Kenai Council joins list of organizations opposing potential setnet ban

Posted: December 19, 2013 - 9:54pm
Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion  (left) Kenai Peninsula Fishermen's Association setnetter Todd Smith walks back to his seat after testifying in support of a resolution while Snug Harbor Seafoods owner Paul Dale (right) looks on Wednesday Dec. 18, 2013 at the Kenai City Council meeting in Kenai, Alaska.
Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion (left) Kenai Peninsula Fishermen's Association setnetter Todd Smith walks back to his seat after testifying in support of a resolution while Snug Harbor Seafoods owner Paul Dale (right) looks on Wednesday Dec. 18, 2013 at the Kenai City Council meeting in Kenai, Alaska.

Joining the growing list of organizations vocalizing opposition to a proposed statewide initiative that would ban setnetting in certain parts of the state, the Kenai City Council Wednesday unanimously passed a resolution cementing its opposition to the initiative.

At least 15 people sat in on the council meeting and several testified in support of the Cook Inlet’s setnet fishery — the largest group of setnetters in the state that would be affected were the proposed ballot initiative were to pass.

The Kenai Area Fisherman’s Coalition, Kenai Peninsula Fisherman’s Association, Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly, United Fishermen of Alaska and the Alaska Salmon Alliance have all voiced opposition to the proposed initiative through media releases, resolutions and legal opinions sent to Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell’s office.

The proposed ballot initiative, sponsored by the Alaska Fisheries Conservation Alliance, is currently undergoing legal review through Treadwell’s office. If the initiative passes muster, AFCA organizers have said they aim to have it on the ballot by 2016.

AFCA spokesperson Charles Fedullo responded to questions sent to the organization’s president Joe Connors calling opposition to the proposal an opportunity.

“...(AFCA) is interested in working with people across Alaska and discussing the initiative with organizations like the Kenai Peninsula Borough and the City of Kenai,” Fedullo wrote in an email. “Our goal in putting this initiative on the ballot in 2016 is to have a public debate on this issue throughout our state.”

Kenai Council members Terry Bookey and Ryan Marquis, speaking in support of the city’s resolution, said they were concerned that people who were not familiar with commercial setnetting could be making decisions about the gear type despite ignorance of its capabilities.

“The one thing that I just kind of intuitively believe is that we should not be setting management practices based on ballot box measures because then you have people like me, who are ignorant in that process, that are making decisions that affect resource allotment and things of that nature. If something like this had to happen this isn’t the venue or the methodology,” Bookey said.

Marquis and other council members received several written comments from local communities members in support of the city’s resolution which was originally proposed by council member and commercial setnetter Brian Gabriel and council member Bob Molloy.

“I’ve not heard a single communication in support of this ballot initiative and especially not anyone local even though I believe there are people that do support it,” Marquis said. “They’re not coming forward and they’re not speaking about. I think that this action is deceiving and that (it) smacks of cowardice.”

Fedullo disagreed with the idea that the initiative was primarily focused on Kenai.

Rather, he wrote in an email, it is geared toward protecting all fish in “urban areas” of Alaska.

“As Alaska’s population continue to grow, urban areas will naturally become larger, creating even more pressure on Alaska’s fisheries’ resources. Under this initiative, all urban areas of Alaska, those today and those in the future, will be protected from the waste that is caused by commercial setnets,” Fedullo wrote.

Treadwell’s office is required to issue a decision on the legality of the initiative by Jan. 6 and the lone dissenting voice on the city council, Tim Navarre, said he was uncomfortable supporting a resolution until then.

“I have a problem with this council, whether it’s this issue or some other issue, starting to take a position on an initiative that hasn’t even gone through the legal process,” he said. “The Lieutenant Governor hasn’t even ruled on it and we’re reacting to it.”

Though he eventually voted in favor of the city’s resolution, Navarre said he thought the city should wait to take a position.

“Sometimes reactive things get you into trouble,” he said.

Reach Rashah McChesney at

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Seafarer 12/20/13 - 11:03 am
What Evil Would Wipe Out Entire Families?

This initiative wants to wipe out entire families who have been here for generations. They own land, farms, homes, and LIFE here. WHY would we want to just tell them: Sorry, your way of life is gone. Move along. Get another job to pay your bills.

WHO would do that? BOB PENNEY!!! He is the creep behind this whole thing. He doesn't even know how the fishery works! He hates all commercial fishermen. Every single one of them, no matter where they live or who they are.

He will, gleefully, wipe out entire families, with generations that have been setnetting. What kind of evil is that? Having it on the ballot for people who live inland and know nothing about setnetting will be deciding the fate of entire families. This is a cowardly and desperate act by a rich guy who thinks he owns the Kenai River. He has the money to spread the lies across the state. The setnetters are not wealthy people and will have to nearly go broke to fight this terrible idea. Thankfully, other gear fishermen and associations will be there to help, as will I.

Treadwell is not trustworthy to review this. I imagine Bob Penney gave him quite the handsome "donation".

Fight, Good People! Don't let the greed and hate of one man ruin the lives of many, many entire families.

FishForFood 12/20/13 - 12:44 pm
There is no "waste"

Mr. Fedullo, your ignorance of the commercial fishing industry in Cook Inlet is showing. All salmon species caught are sold and utilized as food or some other secondary product. There is NO "...waste that is caused by the commercial setnets."

KenaiKardinal88 12/20/13 - 02:15 pm
No Setnet Ban - No More Sportfishing

Commie fishers are brazenly attacking ALL sportfishing interest via the back-door, sleazy, political process.

They steal the wealth of Alaska and give nothing back but fish waste.

Stop the setnetters now, or give up your sportfishing forever.

cormit 12/20/13 - 09:38 pm

The importance of the set-net community, their families, their history and their future, is much greater than can be expressed in dollars and cents alone. The Kenai Peninsula would not be the same without them and I think most Peninsula residents understand that. I think most Alaskans understand it too.

Many salmon users from the sport and personal use sectors and some Kenai River guides as well .... are not supportive of this initiative, and are beginning to publicly voice their opposition.

AFCA ...... the initiative sponsors, may have counted on a level of support ..... that in the end ..... may not be there. By now, most of us know who you are.

This "all or nothing" effort by AFCA and it's supporters will leave a wall of distrust between them and a community they wish to have a future in. Good luck with that one. I guess you'll reap what you sow.

jlmh 12/20/13 - 11:29 pm
It sure would be nice to have

It sure would be nice to have those lines off the beaches, but it's kind of a key industry to lose.

Paul Dale
Paul Dale 12/21/13 - 12:21 am
Set net ban

Two unanimous resolutions against this poorly worded and divisive initiative. Local government clearly sees this for what it is, an arrogant, greedy, and frankly embarrassing effort by a relatively few thoughtless individuals. These early statements by both the Kenai Borough Assembly and the Kenai City Council speak plainly and powerfully, their judgment simple and complete. Those who bring and support this initiative are bad neighbors.

Raoulduke 12/21/13 - 02:22 am

KK-88 you have stated the term "Commie Fishers". I have asked for your definition of this term.Please define.So! The people not in the know.Will know. Thanks.

leewaytooo 12/21/13 - 05:21 am
if you want to TRY to help

if you want to TRY to help the kenai river.........

then make the river drift boat only.....

of course the COMMERCIAL guides on the river

only bring good and never in any way do they harm

anything... pollution, congestion, bad manners,

erosion, ugly boats, noisy, unstylish clothes, rude

clients, they don't even live here... got some more? add

them to the list.. and lets tell santa what's what...

he will stick it to their kids, which is just what they

want to do to the set netters kids.......

or just do not do any business with those that support

COMMERICIAL guides and their goal of destruction to

the set netters. they suck eggs like a raccoon and not the

cute raccoons, they would be the nasty smelling gang

running raccoons, that are slinking around in the dark

stealing the food from everyone; all the while smiling.

send the raccoons to the dentist in need of a root canal,

"no novacane no novacane" is the cry of the people.

pengy 12/22/13 - 09:55 am
Good for you Tim Navarre.

Good for you Tim Navarre. There's a reason why I voted for you.

beaverlooper 12/23/13 - 06:02 pm
Bad on you Tim Navarre

You've just added to the reasons I didn't vote for you.

kenai123 12/31/13 - 02:45 am
Commercial Gear In Alaska

Back in 1959 lower 48 cannery commercial fishermen claimed that banning Alaskan fish traps would wipe out entire families, along with the businesses supporting those families. They claimed lands, farms, homes and life itself would be destroyed if Alaska banned their fish traps. What were they supposed to do, get another job? They predicted that the State of Alaska would go bankrupt without the fisheries moneys which their fish traps provided. They took lower 48 votes and made resolutions down there that said they were against Alaska banning the fish traps. The people of Alaska voted and they banned the commercial fish traps. Those lower 48 commercial fishermen then jumped on commercial vessels and continued fishing Alaska waters anyway. Alaska did not go bankrupt and life went on.

How could any of you people believe that the people of Alaska should not or cannot vote on what kind of commercial gear we use to fish our waters? Do you understand that the main reason you are currently using gill nets today is because the people of Alaska voted to ban fish trap commercial gear, therefore forcing commercial fishermen to go back to using the less effective gill nets? Knowing this privilege was therefore basically passed to you by Alaskan voters, you turn around and claim that Alaskan voters cannot take it back? It does not matter what Treadwell does with this initiative, it is completely legal for Alaskan voters to approve or disapprove a commercial gear type. If this initiative isn't worded correct enough today, tomorrow it surely will be, therefore it is just a matter of time before the voters of Alaska vote on banning set nets. So write a book, have your city, borough, VFW, board of fish, ac, local restaurant, gas station or whatever vote on it. Those votes will not prevent a vote of the people of Alaska on a commercial gear type.

It doesn't even matter if the ban actually does any of the things which its supports claim, if our Alaskan voters believe in the ban, it is going to happen eventually. So crank up the printing presses and begin the propaganda campaigns. Let the great debate begin.

leewaytooo 12/31/13 - 04:38 am
make everyone fish in salt

make everyone fish in salt water only.......

no fishing from the river bank.............unless.... you

promise not to damage anything.........that'll happen, right?

make those pansy raccoons earn their grits by

fishing out on the inlet vs. playing bummer boats

on the river....... leave the river to the fish....

let the pansy raccoons show that they truly care

about the fish vs. consuming fast food food will

kill everything eventually.... ask the employees of mc d's

no novocane

kenai123 12/31/13 - 03:57 pm

leewaytooo, we already have to many people fishing the salt water, that is most of the king problem. They have fished so hard out in the salt that there is little to nothing left for our young kings to prey on. Our juvenal kings are most likely starving to death between the Gulf of Alaska and Cook Inlet.

leewaytooo 01/01/14 - 04:10 am
talkin' about them Commercial

talkin' about them Commercial guides being moved
to salt water................keep up.......

kenai123 01/01/14 - 11:33 pm

Have you been out on the Kenai River lately? At least half the guides are gone. There is basically nobody even trying to fish the first run of kings anymore, when it's open anyway. You think moving rivers guides into the salt will solve something? Again we have a huge user king problem in the saltwater and you want to make it worse by moving additional users to the saltwater? Basically all our problems on the Kenai River begin with either a direct or indirect lack of king salmon. Reality is that people who limited out and were off the river in thirty minutes in 1990, now fish for three days to maybe just hook and lose that same fish. Take a look at the growing effort hours to catch a king. That increasing effort basically turns into everyone bumping into each other.

Also there is no such thing as a Commercial Fishing Guide. The term commercial with regard to fisheries can only be applied to a user who catches and sells a fish. This is current Alaska law. But if if you want to talk fair-tales you can call any fisheries user commercial.

leewaytooo 01/02/14 - 04:38 am
" 1990, now fish for

" 1990, now fish for three days to maybe just hook and lose that same fish. Take a look at the growing effort hours to catch a king. That increasing effort basically turns into everyone bumping into each other. "

Bummer boats churning and burning and killing and
eroding....... Commercial guides spending three times
the effort to catch and "lose that same fish".......

Isn't that the same result as in "catch and release"
Except that caught and released have a better chance
of dying......... shame, waste, disgusting, fast food money,
too sad,,, release the fish only to die, they take the fast food money from the tourists and then buy a burger for dinner.

so............the..... Commercial guides are selling a
product they know has little chance of succeeding ???

diminishing returns will be the result of their
practice of selling what can't be...........

and the circle is smaller and tighter and painful

No Novocain

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