Kenai king salmon austerity has gone too far.
King salmon returns are weak in many areas of Alaska this year. The early and late run Kenai kings appear weak as well. Let's save the "why this is happening" for a different discussion. What should we do about this Kenai king salmon shortage?
Should we: (A) allow east side set-net fishing and in-river fishing to go on as though there were not a problem? Of course not.
Should we: (B) shut down east side set-netters and all in-river king fishing from this day forward ... this year, next year and beyond, until the returning numbers of kings fit nicely into the numerical bracket we have arbitrarily assigned to them? That approach doesn't sound very reasonable either.
A reasonable solution obviously lies somewhere in between. In-river king salmon fishing occured for some of the early season and is now closed.
The east side set-netters have been out of the water all season. This has never happened before. Ever. Those set-netters have paid a huge price in order to let kings pass. The majority of the kings that can be saved this year have been saved. Is it reasonable at this point to deprive set-netters of even a small opportunity to fish before the last of the reds go up the river, to save a small number of kings? Really?
For Ninilchick, Clam Gulch, and Cohoe set-netters, the majority of their season has already passed.
Today is July 22, Sunday afternoon. No announcement about tomorrow's set-net opening ... or closure ... nothing.
Something is very wrong here.
The standard split beam sonar used for many years in the Kenai River to count fish has been replaced with a new Didson system. They count fish differently. Some mathematical differentials have been applied to merge the historic split beam data and the new Didson data. Has this counting transition been worked out so that it is accurate? Not from what I've heard. If the Department of Fish and Game gets this wrong, who is going to be responsible for this year's lost east side set-net harvest?