Current weather

  • Overcast, light rain
  • 61°
    Overcast, light rain
  • Comment

Much uproar over salmon

Posted: December 9, 2011 - 10:08am  |  Updated: December 9, 2011 - 10:11am

Ever since Nov. 25, when I suggested in this column that nonresidents ought have limits for how many salmon they can take Outside, the howling has been loud and mournful.

My idea was to use British Columbia's definition of "possession limit": "the number of fish of any species that an angler may have in his/her possession at any given time, except at place of ordinary residence." B.C.'s definition uses the all-inclusive "fish," which means all fish, including any that have been preserved. It's also illegal in B.C. to "field-can" any fish outside of a person's ordinary residence.

Even though this change wouldn't affect Alaskans, several people opposed it. One e-mail writer suggested that if I liked "socialist" Canada so much, I should go live there.

Summing up the claims of those opposed:

* The resource isn't threatened, so there's no need for further restricting the salmon harvest of nonresidents.

* The ecomony of the Kenai-Soldotna area would suffer because fewer tourists would come, and those who did would spend less money.

* In the Kenai River, too many sockeyes would escape, causing destruction of the fishery due to over-escapement.

* Any time the Board of fisheries restricts a fishery, it's nearly impossible to reverse the action, especially when the majority of board members favor commercial- fishing interests.

* A possession limit that included frozen and otherwise processed fish would be difficult to enforce.

* Non-residents wouldn't be able to take home "trophy" fish anymore.

* To limit how much fish summer visitors can take home is divisive and nothing more than a facade for selfishness, jealousy and xenophobia.

I figured guides, lodges, fish processors, non-residents, the Department of Fish and Game and the Kenai River Sportfishing Association would oppose this idea. They are, but that doesn't mean it's a bad idea.

When I think about nonresident salmon limits, I think about Kenai Peninsula sockeyes. My reasoning is that most non-residents probably don't like spending a lot of time, energy and money to take home more fish than they can eat, but some do it in spite of themselves. If they come to Alaska several times, they slowly learn that a lot of their fish goes to waste. My experience, which goes back to the early 1970s, is that most friends and relatives in the Lower 48 say they want salmon, but few will dig it out of the freezer, cook it and eat it. And they're even less inclined to eat it after it has been in their freezer for a year or more.

People who liked my idea specifically mentioned sockeyes. In general, they don't like to see non-residents at the airport shipping five 50-pound boxes of sockeyes home. There may not be a conservation issue, but there's an issue of possible waste, and that some fish are being sold. One e-mail writer opined that something on the order of 20 reds per year was probably enough, and that he knew of some people who take "tons" of reds to Europe every year.

Another said his biggest nightmare was that someone would get a can of improperly processed, home-canned salmon, and then become sick. He mentioned that it had happened before, and that the salmon market had been depressed for years afterward.

Call me mavericky, but I like the idea of limiting how many sockeyes nonresidents can have in possession. It's worth thinking about.

Les Palmer can be reached at

  • Comment

Comments (4) 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.
Glenn Capn Gilz
Glenn Capn Gilz 12/09/11 - 02:11 pm
Uproar over Salmon

There is a fine line with many issues involving conservation and salmon.

With the "abundance" of sockeye, no one seems too concerned about limits and overfishing. Many years back the same could have been said about the unique Kenai Kings...Hindsight is 20-20.

Nonetheless, as a lodge employee, fisherman and guide, I do happen to agree with your stance. At some point regulations should be tightened and enforced. Albeit, possession limits or illegal snagging, lets not have our grandchildren look back and blame us for poor management.

Personally, I have been there..done that with sockeye. I took too much home and tossed it after a year in the freezer. Why didn't I give it to a homeless shelter? Laziness.

The larger issue is the "commercial" selling of this resource by sportfishermen coming to AK in numbers and bringing their catch back to Europe or Asia for a profit.

Two suggestions:

1 A public service campaign to educate the "average Joe" and ask them to be more conscientious. i.e. Take fewer fish home, or at least donate to worthy causes
2. Crack down on illegal snagging...not the technique..but the result, because with the right tackle, size line and proper technique, these fish can be caught in the mouth. And Crack down on those "sport fishermen" who are coming to Alaska to sell fish, not enjoy the sport.

Cap' Gilz is a blogger and a lodge employee.

akintx 12/12/11 - 03:06 pm
taking home salmon

As I am no longer able to live in the great state of Alaska, anyone who has extra Salmon can gladly send it my way

JOAT 12/13/11 - 11:39 pm
"Excess" is a personal responsibility

I've yet to take a salmon to the dump, and I think Glenn here is the first person I've ever heard admit that he has done so. I certainly agree that it was laziness if he did. A freezer burnt fish is still great dog food and a totally spoiled fish (like losing power to the freezer) can still make great fertilizer for the garden.

I've lived in Soldotna over 3 decades and I'm also one of those "evil" dipnetters. Every year I trudge down to the Kasilof beach (due to the inescapable chaos at the Kenai) and take all the fish that I need for the winter. That comes out to about 1/2 of what the permit allows me to take. I know exactly how many salmon I'll go through during the winter and I won't exceed that amount. We also hit the salt for a few 40-pound halibut each spring (we choose not to keep any female fish, which are the ones over about 60#) and will fly fish some sockeye on the lower Kenai during late July when the numbers get up there. That puts a few more nice-n-phat salmon in the freezer. But we still know what our household need is and don't exceed that.

The next step in the process is preservation. It seems that a lot of people just don't get this part. Catching and cleaning is only a fraction of the job. A fish wrapped in freezer paper is only going to last to Halloween. A properly vacuum packed fish will last at least a year; up to 2 years depending on method. And then you have canning, which can preserve that precious protein for several years. And there is also smoking, though that doesn't add any time onto the storage ability. But I like to run a batch through the smoker every once in awhile. It just has to be consumed during a couple week fridge cycle, so we do smaller batches.

So, back to the topic at hand... I fully agree with more public education. Start with some education about how much fish a household can handle. We constantly hear the public complaints about those "evil dipnetters" taking home 55 fish to their family of 4 and how they can't possibly eat it all. Well, depending on the size of each fish, you can figure that a family of 4 will get one full meal out of one average sockeye. So, if you spread their 55 fish from August through next June, you'll see that they get to have salmon for dinner only once per week.

The CE has a lot of good literature about processing and preserving fish (and just about everything else). I'd like to see their message pushed through the summer in all the major media outlets of SC AK.

Should non-residents have reduced possession limits? I don't think it will make a difference one way or the other. I've watched a lot of tourists fish. It seems to me that most of them practice C&R anyway and are just in it for the thrill of killing the fish and tossing it back in the water. The number of non-residents taking large numbers of fish seems pretty insignificant in the grand scheme.

Carver 12/16/11 - 06:24 am
Prejudice . . .

"Call me mavericky . . "

No, I think "prejudiced" is the better word. Citing no biological necessity or any reason other than your personal opinion, you would deny nonresidents the right to do as they wish with their legally-caught limits of fish.

Back to Top


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
  • title
  • title
My Gallery


  • 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