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Philosophical change needed in managing fisheries

Posted: June 26, 2012 - 9:07am

All letters about king salmon should be collected and delivered to the Alaska Board of Fisheries. Do not send them during the winter as Chairman Kactus Karl Johnstone will be in Prescott, Ariz., golfing. Regulations are drafted by the board and implemented by the department. It was the fish board that lowered the escapement on early kings. As far as closing the commercial fishery, there has not been one since 1978, the original Cook Inlet Management Plan. Closures? What do you call windows? The use of 1999 Dan Coffeyisms like "share the burden" is the same flawed bio-speak that clearly dodges the real issues. After all that chairman just was a paid re-allocation specialist.

Face it, the in-river fishery is managed for opportunity. Not KRSMA, State Parks, the Governor, ADF&G, KRPGA, DNR, have been able to limit or reduce the number of guides in spite of multiple government studies on crowding. The concept of carrying capacity is an age old management tool. Some people consider the guide industry a commercial fishery. Fishing where fish spawn and releasing big fish over and over cannot be good for the future. Sure the mortality rate on hook-and-release has been expressed at 15 percent but it is probably 100 percent when a large fish is hooked a second time in fresh water.

Fishing in Anchor River, Ninilchik River, and Deep Creek is allowed only in the first two miles. Above the two mile marker the fish are protected to spawn. Pressure in the saltwater is still serious. At one time there was a batch of Kenai kings, back when Don Collingsworth was the commissioner. He was ordered to destroy them by a well known local sport fish advocate. Time will tell who really cares about the king salmon. Fish politics at the board level have caused a division in the department. Why aren't comm fish and sport fish just fisheries period? Most biologists will tell you that managing fish so these fish go to these folks on this day is more a job for UPS than a fish manager. Will the 50,000 dipnetters be happy next month? Will they throw back their king salmon? Will there still be a Kenai Classic to mitigate the same problems they create? Can those that care for the Kenai River king salmon comprehend the changes required in order for just a status quo level of their expectations to be met? Who will become an honest advocate for these fish?

Truth and sacrifice are forthcoming.

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