Kenai River king salmon return triggers restrictions in commercial setnet fishery

Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion In this July 9, 2014 file photo Devin Every, Travis Every and Damien Redder pick fish from a setnet in Kenai, Alaska. Alaska Department of Fish and Game managers have suspended regular fishing periods in the east side setnet fishery due to Kenai River king salmon restrictions.

On the opening day of fishing for Kenai River late run king salmon Wednesday, Alaska Department of Fish and Game managers announced restrictions for the commercial setnet fishery that operates on the east side of Cook Inlet.

 

For the second consecutive fishing season, restrictions in sport fishing for Kenai River king salmon have triggered automatic restrictions in the number of hours setnetters can fish.

Sport fishing managers announced a no-bait restriction in the sport fishery after they forecasted fewer than 22,500 king salmon to return to the Kenai River in 2015.

As a result, the set gillnet fishery will be limited to no more than 36 hours per week of fishing beginning July 1 with mandatory 36-hour weekly closures required to begin between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Thursdays.

Commercial area managers have removed the regular Monday and Thursday scheduled fishing periods and will provide all fishing time for set gillnets in the area via emergency order, according to a media release.

The paired restrictions are the result of regulatory changes made during the 2014 Board of Fisheries meeting on Upper Cook Inlet. However, east side setnet fishermen have seen consistent restrictions to fishing time and area since 2012 due to declining numbers of king salmon.

 

Reach Rashah McChesney at rashah.mcchesney@peninsulaclarion.com or follow her on Twitter @litmuslens

Setnet fishing time reduced

Declining numbers of Kenai River king salmon have resulted in a number of restrictions to the commercial setnet fishery on the east side of Cook Inlet. Fish and Game data shows a sharp decline in the number of hours commercial setnet fishermen spent in the water in recent years. 

Year — Hours fished

2004 — 516

2005 — 714

2006 — 421

2007 — 441

2008 — 397

2009 — 382

2010 — 473

2011 — 438

2012 — 85

2013 — 140

2014 — 166

These figures represent the total number of hours fished in the east side setnet fishery and do not include the hours fished in the Kasilof River special harvest area which has been heavily used in recent years. The hours listed represent all regularly scheduled fishing periods as well as emergency-ordered openings. 

— Data provided by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game


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