Most commercial fishing ends Monday

Commercial fishing boats sit anchored near the mouth of the Kenai River on Friday, July 28, 2017 in Kenai, Alaska. Commercialset gillnet fishermen and drift gillnet fishermen were able to go out for a fishing period Saturday after the Alaska Department of Fish and Game opened an additional period from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion, file)

Most commercial fishing in Upper Cook Inlet ended Monday, with the set gillnet fishermen in the Kasilof section getting one extra day Tuesday.

 

The east side set gillnet fishermen and drift gillnet fishermen in the central district were out fishing during their regular 12-hour period Monday. Setnetters in the northern district were restricted to a six-hour period between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. Monday as well.

Kasilof setnetters were extended through 11 p.m. Monday and will get the extra day Tuesday between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. Setnetters can fish within a mile of the mean high tide mark in the Kasilof section of the Upper Subdistrict.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game management biologists predict the sockeye salmon passage will exceed the upper end of the biological escapement goal for the river, which is 160,000–340,000 fish. As of Sunday, the escapement was more than 336,000 fish, according to Pat Shields, the commercial area management biologist.

The Kenai and East Forelands subdistrict fishermen won’t get the extension or additional day because the Kenai River is predicted to stay within its 1 million to 1.3 million sockeye salmon inriver goal. As of Sunday, about 1.05 million sockeye had passed the sonar at river mile 19, according to Fish and Game’s counts.

Fish and Game biologists’ projections show that the sockeye runs to Upper Cook Inlet are about three days late this year, according to an emergency order opening the Kasilof section, issued Monday afternoon. Usually, between Aug. 11 and Aug. 15, setnetters in that area are restricted to the Monday and Thursday regular periods only, but if the department projects that the run will overwhelm the escapement goals, the managers are allowed to authorize extra fishing time, according to the emergency order.

This season, commercial fishermen in Upper Cook Inlet have harvested about 2.4 million salmon total, with about 1.8 million of those being sockeye salmon. About 216,000 of those are silvers and 231,000 are chums, followed about 166,000 pink salmon and about 7,300 king salmon, according to Fish and Game’s harvest data. The northern district setnet fishermen continue fishing into the fall, though it is a much smaller fishery than the drift gillnet fishery and the east side setnet fishery.

Reach Elizabeth Earl at elizabeth.earl@peninsulaclarion.com.

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