Current weather

  • Overcast
  • 59°
    Overcast
  • Comment

A chinook chute-out

Posted: May 29, 2013 - 4:36pm  |  Updated: May 30, 2013 - 8:56am

I wrote in September of my desire to test Selective Harvest Modules (SHMs) as a method for setnetters to exclude king salmon from their harvest. The Department of Fish and Game (F&G) has since issued me a Commissioner’s Permit to test two SHMs.

One will be tested on the beach where setnets are typically fished on “running lines.” This is a prime area for catching fish that presents unique challenges from waves. Here we must allow for traffic to pass and should make consideration for appearances in the viewshed. Since my SHMs are built from seines, they will lay on the beach at low tide, unlike the fish traps of long ago. Another SHM will be tested further from shore, on the tide flats. SHMs are designed to fish a 210-foot swath of water, same as setnets. That allows for SHMs to fit into the existing setnet fishery layout.

About 1988 a sportfishing group suggested a single trap be set in the Kenai River and setnets be eliminated entirely. Permit holders were to receive a yearly check from profits. That socialistic approach would put thousands of people out of work. Even forming co-ops and building large SHMs every couple miles along beaches would eliminate many jobs. My SHMs have a dual focus — to pass king salmon through our fishery unharmed and maintain the existing independence of setnetters.

I’ve heard suggestions that beach seines could be used to capture salmon and then release kings. Such a technique would likely harm the salmon by dragging them through shallow water. Getting a hold of kings to release them might resemble a frenzy without handles. And if the kings became stressed they may have trouble getting away from the waves near shore. I plan to only fish my beach-side SHMs during flood tides. That will guarantee me a release point away from the surf and prevent having the tide go out on a seine full of fish.

During this test I will be allowed, during setnet openings, to deploy a SHM in place of one of my setnets. I can sell the salmon I catch, but of course will be releasing kings. F&G is providing an observer, and by this letter I’m extending an invitation to the public to watch as well. Simultaneously fishing with setnets will provide efficiency information. I can compare the SHM harvest to that of my adjacent nets. If our fishery is again closed for king salmon conservation purposes, F&G may allow me to open my SHM for testing, however, I will then release all salmon species and won’t be permitted to sell anything.

While support for my SHMs has been warm and broad, I do have a few critics. One critic says this sort of test should only be carried out by trained scientists. I say hire them already! But here’s a story for consideration: Once I was contacted by a researcher from the University of Alaska. He wanted my advice on how to capture Pacific sandfish. I told him, “Offer herring fishers $10.00/pound and we’ll deliver.”

Instead they contracted to someone who wasn’t a local fisher. When the contractor came up with no sandfish, F&G manager Paul Reusch called me to ask if I could bring him some sandfish for the University to examine. I grabbed a couple gallons out of our nets that day and delivered them. I would welcome more effort by the State, but I’m very grateful for the permits I have.

A few dreamers say, “There was no shortage of kings last year, it was all a colossal mistake by F&G king counters. I think it’s safe to say management mistakes were made, but I have no doubt that kings are presently in short supply. And deflated abundance or not, many years king salmon have cost Cook Inlet setnetters a lot of money in lost fishing time and in defence against draconian Board of Fish proposals.

SHMs are almost sure to improve quality and they hold out hope for a fishery that harvests almost exclusively Kenai and Kasilof bound sockeye and pink salmon.

  • 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.
pengy
246
Points
pengy 05/31/13 - 09:42 am
1
0
Way to go Brent. I'm a

Way to go Brent. I'm a sportfisherman and I'm glad to see a commercial fisherman be proactive rather than reactive to the king salmon decline. I've got my fingers crossed that this method will be effective so all setnetters will be able to pursue sockeye salmon in years of low king abundance.

kenai123
1268
Points
kenai123 05/31/13 - 11:48 am
1
2
A new gear type? Description please?

You know how long we have been trying to get them set netters to just try a new gear type? About 30 years! It just took losing one season to make-em see the light... I don't have a lot of hope that this Selective Harvest Modules (SHMs) will work because it sounds like it would just release a king to the next SHM and the next until a king is so wore out that his goes belly up. We don't have all the details as to how a SHM is suppose to work so it is to soon to predict how one will work. The troubling part of this story is all those words talking about everything except how the test gear actually functions. You would think one paragraph for a general description of the nuts and bolts would have been easy.

beaverlooper
2247
Points
beaverlooper 05/31/13 - 04:46 pm
2
0
"I don't have a lot of hope

"I don't have a lot of hope that this Selective Harvest Modules (SHMs) will work because it sounds like it would just release a king to the next SHM and the next until a king is so wore out that his goes belly up."
Kind of like catch and release?

pengy
246
Points
pengy 05/31/13 - 11:22 pm
0
1
Apples and oranges,

Apples and oranges, beaverlooper. Studies have been done by F&G and the mortality rate for sport caught king salmon is 1 out 11 will not survive. This 1 out of 11 is factored in by f&g for their escapement goals. Keep in mind, the 1 out of 11 is lost to spawning and to the dinner plate but it is not lost to the ecosystem (many nutrients derived from a dead salmon). Has there been any catch and release studies done for commercial fishing? Not that I know of. The known is the mortality of sport fishing. The unknown is the mortality of catch and release commercial fishing. Maybe with the efforts of Brent Johnson we will know more.

Roger104
137
Points
Roger104 06/01/13 - 08:15 am
2
1
Old Study

Pengy, just because they survive does not mean that they successfully spawn. It is a proven fact that stressed fish do not spawn as successfully. Also, that study is over 20 YEARS OLD!!! Inriver fishing pressure and efficiency have increased drastically since then, and there has been little study on multiple hookups, and no research on the effects of C&R on fecundity, or spawning success. Time for some new data.

Brent, Kudos for trying to find a newer and more effective means of harvest, but at the end of the day, you're still gonna be the guy who's downstream catching 123's fish. The goal of the anti-setnetter crowd isn't to keep you from harvesting kings, it's to keep you from harvesting anything! They'd rather see those excess fish swim up the river and overcrowd the spawning beds.

pengy
246
Points
pengy 06/02/13 - 01:28 pm
1
1
Roger104, increased fishing

Roger104, increased fishing pressure? Multiple hook ups? I have been out 6 times on the lower river this year between Stewart's and Eagle Rock and the most boats I counted was 4. On two days I had the only boat out there. When the river goes to C&R it is a ghost town. To date the number of kings that ADF&G has estimated to be caught is 16. Even if all 16 died of C&R do you think that it statistically will impact the early run?

kenai123
1268
Points
kenai123 06/02/13 - 02:26 pm
2
2
Roger104, correct nutrient levels

It does not matter what your latest pro-comm-fish term is, "overcrowd the spawning beds, over escapement, excess escapement" or any other ridiculous make-believe fisheries management term. Comm-fish, the board of fish and even our biologists have greatly underestimate our water nutrient (nitrogen) needs for both the fresh and saltwater. We are at a 50 year low in water nitrogen ratios, therefore a 50 year low in ocean productivity. Over-crowd, over-escape and any other term you would like to dream up, only means that you desire a high bank account balance more than a high ocean nutrient account balance. A high ocean nutrient balance begins the food chain cycle which results in a returning adult salmon.

Commercial fisheries are just saying that we can get something from NOTHING as they attempt to trade our high water nutrients levels for a their own personal high bank account levels. This is an illogical concept as it is not possible to maintain high salmon return levels and high commercial harvest levels at the same time. One or the other must suffer. Currently we are experiencing low salmon returns levels and high commercial profit levels. Reduce commercial profits and our correct nutrient levels and salmon will return.

kenai123
1268
Points
kenai123 06/02/13 - 03:01 pm
1
2
pengy 100% correct

pengy is 100% correct.
Even if you multiplied the in-river 16 kings hooked and released, by a factor of ten times, it would still be meaningless with regard to the early run of kings on the Kenai River. Every single word published on this page, which attempts to focus on our public fisheries users (10%) and ignores our commercial fisheries users (90%), is a total waste of energy. The bulk of the salmon problem is excess commercial salmon harvest.

Pre 1975 most of our salmon rivers "wreaked" in the fall. Try talking to someone who is 80 - 100 years old, they will tell you what the rivers smelled like back before 1975. They will tell you that a person would almost be over-come by the sink of rotting salmon. That smell was the smell of strong future salmon runs (1975 - 1995). Pick any river today and take a smell in the fall; you will be lucky to detect the faint smell of rotting salmon. You might smell a little on a pink salmon year. The reason for the lack of rotting salmon is because of only one thing; commercial fishing. Commercial fishing has declared the "wreak" to be a huge waste of our fisheries resources. The truth is that the "wreak" is absolutely necessary to preserve future water nitrogen ratios to start the marine food chain. Commercial fisheries have convinced us to trade in our high water nutrients needs for their "absolutely necessary high harvest and profits".
We do not need high commercial profits, we do need high water nitrogen ratios.

Roger104
137
Points
Roger104 06/03/13 - 10:59 pm
2
0
My mistake

You guys are right.

Fishing pressure hasn't changed at all on the Kenai in the last 20+ years. There is no need to have an updated study on catch and release. Or really any studies inriver for that matter. Everything is just perfect - except it doesn't stink bad enough because of those darn setnets.

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