I was very disappointed in the actions and behaviors of some individuals in our community at the Upper Cook Inlet Task Force Meeting (Feb. 14). It was disheartening to see slander and blatant lack of respect for those sitting on the task force who have developed proposals and been working with various individuals in the fishing community. I was extremely disheartened by the immaturity of an individual who outright attacked a board member, Luther Andersen, and accused him of only representing himself, questioning the validity of this panel member. After the meeting I was able to reach Mr. Andersen and learn about those he was representing and the many individuals that he has met and conversed with in the development of his proposal to the Task Force. I was very interested to learn that he also has met with some of the local set netters who wanted to discuss the proposal that he had created.
What disturbed me further was another incident that I witnessed during one of the many breaks during the meeting. Another individual approached one of the task force members, Dennis Gease, and began to berate him publicly — accusing him of being on the task force simply because of his son’s position as head of the Kenai River Sport Fishing Association. I was glad to see Mr. Gease stand up against this disrespectful and ill-mannered individual — stating his many involvements in local salmon interests — serving on many local committees.
The tone of the meeting was clear! Many set netters disgruntled with management plans that would be in the best interests of the King Salmon if we would have another year of low king numbers. Yes, it is a sad situation to lose out on money from nets not being in the water, but the overall health of the King Salmon runs was being looked into during this meeting. It wasn’t just the set nets that were impacted by last year’s closures, talking to many others at the meetings it’s obvious that the river guide communities and the marine charters suffered as well. Are the interests of the larger group of netters more important than these smaller groups? Or the survival or health of a species? We know that biodiversity creates better ecosystems and promotes healthier years down the road — so why not work together to prevent disaster rather than argue “this is how it’s always been and we want it to continue!” Sometimes we need to give a little to ensure continual returns and a benefit to all in the future.