Concerning the article in Friday’s Peninsula Clarion, “Results Show Higher Bacteria Levels,” by Dan Schwartz, I just got to shake my head and wonder where the common sense has gone.
In the very first paragraph the “personal use fishery” gets mentioned and it just continues throughout the entire article. Time after time the dip net fishery is mentioned/blamed/suspected over and over again for the higher levels of bacteria, (enterococci and fecal coliform), by Tim Stevens, ADEC environmental program specialist. This guy is the expert and he even admits that not only does he not know why these levels are so high, nor does anyone else, by his first comment: “We’re kind of scratching our heads, asking ourselves wnat’s different than past years.”
With only 4 years of testing (began in 2010), do they even know what they are doing yet? He goes on to say that ADEC expected the levels to go down because of the steps that the city of Kenai took to curb any and all effects by the “dip netters” as far as fish waste and human waste on the beaches. But if the bacteria did not go down and the dip netters controlled their mess, who is responsible?
Then the article goes on to say, “We found lower levels on the North beach than on the South beach.” Common sense, the waters of the Kenai and every other river along with Cook Inlet travel south, not north.
Then the article goes on to say that the 50,000 sea gulls may contribute by dumping their guano on the water, beaches, grasslands, boats, people, etc. Yeah, I would give them their due for sure. But why are they there to begin with?
Let’s cut to the chase here, when ever I am dip netting from my boat, I notice a lot of stuff gets into my net. I am constantly picking fish guts out and when I get home it takes an hour to get it all out. Real smelly operation. Where does all that come from? There is no filleted fish carcasses in my net, just small stringy guts.
Well, it is not a big leap on my brains part to know that there are several commercial fish processors working on the river and dumping this stuff in the river. And wonder of all wonders, it is happening primarily during the red run, during the commercial red fishery, the exact same time as the dip net fishery is taking place. These processors use big grinders to reduce the fish waste they pump out into the river so as to try and make it invisible, kind of like bacteria. Why do you think all the sea gulls are down there in the first place? Common sense folks, think about it. At low tide you can see the sea gulls on all the sand bars eating a smorgasbord of nice bite sized bits of fish. No fillets, no carcasses, no whole dead fish, just bite size goodies courtesy of our commercial fisheries processors. And they are laying there in the hot sunshine just decomposing like fish guts do producing bacteria!
So to the ADEC, how about testing the Kenai River waters at the Warren Ames Bridge, then again right below the upper most processor, then below the next fish processor down stream and then again at the mouth. I think you will re-evaluate your findings about the personal use fishery and the dip netters.
Finally, a word to all our public figures and anyone else that continue to bash this personal use dip net fishery. You are talking about the residents of the state of Alaska. The voters! They come first, every time! This fishery is for us to gather our winter stocks of fish for our food. The money grab it has turned into for the state of Alaska as well as the city of Kenai, (Kenai dock launch fee=$25, parking fee=$15, court summons, tickets, fines, camping fees, day use fees), it is not going to go away. So use a little common sense and quit blaming the residents of Alaska who have been wrongly bearing the brunt for all the bad things going on in this great fishery. If you don’t, some wise guy will start a new association, become a power at the Board of Fisheries each time they meet and who knows how out of control things might get for the city of Kenai? Kenai is reaping the rewards now in terms of hotels, gas stations, resturants, grocery stores, etc., caution here, don’t mess it up!