Bob Penney and the KRSA crowd are going on the attack against Cook Inlet setnetters. The initiative they announced recently, if passed by Alaskan voters, would make it illegal for this traditional, incremental part of our economy to continue.
Any unbiased, seasoned observer knows that the Kenai River King is in trouble. But, the fundamental reason for this is not attributable to setnetters. The real reason for the failure of the king run is a combination of in-river degredations: severe overfishing on spawning beds by as many as 600 high powered vessels per day, 30 years of continuous erosion of riverbank habitat by the in-river sport fleet, turbidity (dirty water caused by erosion and outboards), many years of oil pollution as a result of 2 stroke outboards, hygrading of the big kings, and poor management practices whereby the Board of Fisheries has allowed overfishing. It is quite probable that the mortality caused by catch and release fishing is greater than the 13 percent of the run that is harvested by setnetters! And, setnetters do not harvest early run kings at all, yet the early run is in big trouble. This should be enough scientific proof to allow reasonable thinkers to conclude that this is an in-river problem, not a problem with set netting.
The anti set net initiative is like the doctor who has the patient on the operating table and removes the kidney instead of the gall bladder. Yes, something dramatic needs to happen to preserve the Kenai king, but eliminating set netters is reflective of an incorrect diagnoses.