Current weather

  • Clear sky
  • 50°
    Clear sky
  • Comment

Basic fish management principles ignored

Posted: April 24, 2013 - 2:35pm

The basic principles of fisheries management are simple. The fish come first. Use science to ensure adequate escapement and then allow harvest by users. When uncertain about the science, act conservatively to prevent overfishing. If precautionary measures must be taken, share the burden of conservation fairly between all users.

When these principles are not followed, troubles arise, usually at the expense of the fish. Human history shows our nature wanting to test the line between fishing and overfishing — and far too often we roll the dice in favor of short-term profits only to see another fish stock run aground.

Kenai River king salmon are the largest salmon in the world — Les Anderson’s iconic 97.3 pound world record fish was recently inducted into the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame. Boasting eight of the top ten world records, Kenai kings draw global interest. Last year’s closure for king fishing on the Kenai made front page news in the Wall Street Journal.

Unfortunately, like most every other major king stock in Alaska, Kenai kings are facing hard times with historic low returns, poor ocean survival, and uncertain future productivity. The science behind why kings statewide are in such low abundance is unknown. Already preseason restrictions and closures due to low king abundance are being announced by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG), which likely will effect almost every king fishery in the state.

The noticeable exception — Kenai kings.

Why?

Because history is repeating itself, and immediate gains in a commercial fishery are being put ahead of the fish. Despite conservation bells ringing out across Alaska for kings, some want you to believe everything is fine on the Kenai and there is no cause for concern for these majestic fish. But when basic principles of fishery management are ignored and violated, it is a significant setback for king conservation and a true cause for alarm. It cries out that people take notice, demand accountability and call for action.

Kenai River Sportfishing Association (KRSA) is doing just that. Our recent activities to educate the public and legislators about former Alaska Board of Fisheries (BOF) member Vince Webster were fact-based and truthful, centered and focused on the conservation of Kenai kings. Within days, a KRSA call to action garnered more than 10,000 Facebook views.

The public listened and many contacted their legislators asking that Webster not be confirmed. KRSA’s well-reasoned and researched stance resonated across the sport and personal use anglers who utilize Upper Cook Inlet (UCI) and they let their voices be heard unlike any time before. Many of these legislators took notice and listened to their constituents. On a close vote, Webster was not confirmed.

Our concerns regarding Webster’s confirmation spotlighted the fact that basic principles of fishery management were not being followed. These included his failed leadership to provide adequate board oversight regarding an alarmingly low new interim escapement goal for Kenai kings, which drops by one third the minimum number of king spawners from 18,000 to 12,000 (Didson sonar counts); his advocacy to set an optimum escapement goal even lower than the new minimum so that commercial set netters could keep on fishing; and, his failed attempt to shift the burden of king conservation solely onto one user group, the personal use fishery, when no other group faced restrictions. These and other similar past actions added to the foundation and argument that he should no longer serve on the board.

Unfortunately, ADFG is not without its share of responsibility on this issue. It rushed a new interim escapement goal for Kenai kings at a strikingly low escapement level without adequate peer review. Contrary to professional and standard department protocols, ADFG lowered the new range so much so that two-thirds of the new goal has no escapement data to support it. What was the motivation to set the lower end of the escapement goal less than 50 percent below the lowest known escapement ever seen? It seems simply to reduce the likelihood that fisheries, primarily the commercial set net fishery, would face restriction this year. The lone independent peer reviewer stated that the same result could be said for a lower end of the escapement goal at zero.

Alaskans who directly benefit from UCI non-commercial salmon fisheries want salmon escapement goals set based on the best available science. When the best science is uncertain, as it is with the new Kenai king goal, the resource must be adequately protected. If there is a harvestable surplus, allow reasonable opportunity for all user groups, not just commercial set netters.

As a result of Webster’s blockage while on the BOF of a reasonable management plan to pair all users in precautionary step-down measures for Kenai king conservation, ADFG seems content to roll the dice this year.

Are you? If not, follow this story at www.krsa.com and share our conviction that the fish come first.

Ricky Gease is Executive Director of Kenai River Sportfishing Association (KRSA).

  • Comment

Comments (9) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
Carver
1118
Points
Carver 04/25/13 - 12:27 pm
0
3
"ADFG . . rushed a new

"ADFG . . rushed a new interim escapement goal for Kenai kings at a strikingly low escapement level without adequate peer review. . . ADFG lowered the new range so much so that two-thirds of the new goal has no escapement data to support it. . . the motivation to set the lower end of the escapement goal less than 50 percent below the lowest known escapement ever seen . . seems simply to reduce the likelihood that fisheries, primarily the commercial set net fishery, would face restriction this year."
******************

That's quite an accusation!

ADF&G irresponsibly lowered the escapement for Kenai kings just so the set nets could keep fishing?

beaverlooper
2794
Points
beaverlooper 04/25/13 - 02:28 pm
1
3
ADF&G irresponsibly lowered

ADF&G irresponsibly lowered the escapement for Kenai kings just so the in river commercial fishery could keep fishing?

smithtb
240
Points
smithtb 04/25/13 - 03:42 pm
1
1
Funding

Yeah, that makes sense, after all ADFG commfish division is funded off of commercial license sales.... Oh, wait, that's the sportfish division. No wonder they haven't dealt with the fact that our river is overcrowded.

Carver
1118
Points
Carver 04/25/13 - 03:50 pm
0
0
The rest of the story . .

Anyone interested in another side to the accusations leveled in this op ed can click on this link:

http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/showthread.php/130911-KRSA-Ricky-Gea...!

. . and read through the material posted.

Suss
3524
Points
Suss 04/25/13 - 04:41 pm
1
2
Kenai Classic Came First

The historical removal of no bait restrictions for Kings was July 1st just in time for the Uncle Ted-lobbyist-KRSA $$$$palooza. Within a week, gosh, need to go back to no bait. Politics and money over the resource year after year, Gease as the point man for the greed is as much of a concern to the river's health as any other threat. We all have to look to ourselves for the truth, what have we really done for the good or was it just for me, me, me?

borninak
655
Points
borninak 04/25/13 - 07:29 pm
2
2
KRSA Twisted "Biology "

Disgusting that a political action committee lead by Ricky Gease smears the entire Alaska Department of Fish & Game biologists. Their idea of "peer review" is biology that is twisted to support their deplorable political agenda. Hopefully most folks are smart enough to see through this smoke screen. After all, this is coming from a "conservation group" that every year has their big wig cronies in congress come to the Kenai River and kill as many king salmon as they can get to the boat in the Kenai River Classic. How many thousands of kings were killed over the years? Then they use the money raised in the classic to lobby, smear ADF&G and hire "biologists" that will lie for them. Don't be fooled. Listen to your local ADF&G biologists for the facts on the issue.

Roger104
137
Points
Roger104 04/25/13 - 10:38 pm
5
0
Classic is for 'Silvers' now.

Man, you guys are sure bashing a classic! Remember, no Kings were harmed during the classic because it was catch and release this year. And since the setnets were closed the week prior to the classic for the specific reason of letting Kings into the river, we know that the fish caught were non net-marked, pristine fish that went on to sucessfully spawn. Beautiful.

Also, the Classic is in August and for 'Silvers' now, didn't you get the memo? The silver run was so strong last year and all, and since those dirty setnets will be closed in August we know the fishing will be great.... You just back bounce some eggs on your 'Silver gear' through a 'Silver' spawning hole, and bam! 50# 'Silvers' all day long! Heck, I'm gonna have to fish the classic this year! Ricky, can you send me an invitation?

vickiel
255
Points
vickiel 04/26/13 - 03:14 pm
2
2
silvers

When KSRA gets done cleaning out the silvers with another classic who will they blame the decline of the silvers on. Maybe the river should go drift only or limited entry. We need to limit the in river commercial fishing. KSRA should have the main office in Anchorage not Soldotna as we all know Anchorage money supports it.

beaverlooper
2794
Points
beaverlooper 04/26/13 - 03:23 pm
0
0
Kings

I noticed the statement in the article about eight of ten of the largest Kings caught on rod and reel being caught in the Kenai river.I tried and tried to find that on the internet and I couldn't ,except for on Kenai river guide service web sites,I don't doubt that it's true but could someone give me an unbiased link so I could see this fact for myself?
I did notice that there hasn't been a single world record fish, of any species listed, caught any where in the world since the 1990's or earlier.

Back to Top

Spotted

Please Note: You may have disabled JavaScript and/or CSS. Although this news content will be accessible, certain functionality is unavailable.

Skip to News

« back

next »

  • title http://spotted.peninsulaclarion.com/galleries/321268/ http://spotted.peninsulaclarion.com/galleries/321253/ http://spotted.peninsulaclarion.com/galleries/321248/
  • title http://spotted.peninsulaclarion.com/galleries/321243/ http://spotted.peninsulaclarion.com/galleries/321208/ http://spotted.peninsulaclarion.com/galleries/320593/
  • title http://spotted.peninsulaclarion.com/galleries/321173/ http://spotted.peninsulaclarion.com/galleries/321163/
My Gallery

CONTACT US

  • 150 Trading Bay Rd, Kenai, AK 99611
  • Switchboard: 907-283-7551
  • Circulation and Delivery: 907-283-3584
  • Newsroom Fax: 907-283-3299
  • Business Fax: 907-283-3299
  • Accounts Receivable: 907-335-1257
  • View the Staff Directory
  • or Send feedback

ADVERTISING

SUBSCRIBER SERVICES

SOCIAL NETWORKING

MORRIS ALASKA NEWS