Plenty to ponder in Cook Inlet fisheries

From the Nov. 27 Clarion, “Kenai River Classic Changes Months,” well maybe a hook and release derby on big king salmon where they spawn cannot be sold anymore. Maybe the commissioner would no longer authorize a derby for the once great now ghostly king salmon?

A biologist told me kings hooked and released in the river do not spawn. Tuesday afternoon Gov. Parnell announced a plan for $30 million dollars’ worth of research on all kings. Mark Ducker, a Cohoe Beach set netter, told the governor that he cannot acquire sport fish reports on king salmon for the last five years. The Cook Inlet Task Force held a meeting in Soldotna. It could take a decade to rehabilitate the king salmon runs. The task force is taking a month off, canceling the December meeting.

What I expect of the task force: public testimony, a balanced panel, a record of the meeting, and published recommendations. The first meeting was dominated by Kevin Delaney, a hired consultant for KRSA and a non-resident. The Friday Clarion editorial made some good points, the best one being the Alaska Board of Fisheries has not met here since 1999! A letter from Ricky Gease sent to the board warned that Soldotna is too dangerous for a fish board meeting. You could say that the well has been poisoned ever since.

Sport fish division should provide the timely king salmon reports. Task force recommendations should be subject to the customary public comment period. Governor Parnell should direct the fish board to deliberate in Soldotna for the Cook Inlet cycle. This would be a credible beginning. Many appreciate Governor Parnell’s visit to the Kenai Peninsula, however I still see Palin appointments on his fish board. Here is an opportunity for real change. One question remains, what will the impact of three derbies on the Kenai River silvers be? There was a lot to chew on for one week. Hopefully more information will be forthcoming. 

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