Letters to the Editor

Posted: Monday, January 08, 2001

Commercial fishers should be careful about what they propose

The fisheries management plan proposed by the commercial fishing group calling themselves the Kenai Peninsula Resource Management Coalition should also include the nonresident component of their fishery.

The coalition states that in times of low abundance that local recreational anglers should have priority over nonresidents. If that is going to be the plan and only residents will be allowed to access the sport fishery to obtain fish, then only residents should have access to commercially caught fish.

In times of low abundance, if the mission is to make sure residents have enough fish to eat, then the plan should read, the sport and guided sport fishery will be limited to residents only, and all commercial-caught fish will also remain in state with no export to nonresidents.

Doesn't the resident consumer who buys his fish also deserve priority over the nonresident consumer?

I ask the coalition this question: Why do you think it is OK to catch fish in nets and ship it out to nonresidents to buy, but it is not OK for that same nonresident to come here and catch that same fish on a hook?

The survival of the commercial fishery is 100 percent dependent on nonresidents, whereas the sport fishery is not, so be careful for what you wish for, because you might just get it.

The coalition also states that they want fisheries managed by sound biology, for preserving the resource, and not politics. That is great. If that is true, then let's see the coalition's true colors and oppose the International Pacific Halibut Commission's recommendations to increase commercial harvest of halibut on declining stocks. The IPHC's own biologists say that stocks are declining,but the commercial commissioners on the halibut commission say let's increase the harvest. Is that political or good biology?

The coalition also says that the guides have the Board of Fish controlled. Not even close. The guided angler has been given many restrictions in days, hours and bag limits at every Board of Fish meeting. It doesn't do the guides any good to have a bunch more fish in the river if we can't fish for them. The Board of Fish has been trying to put more fish in the rivers for conservation and to preserve the resource, not for guides and guided anglers.

The coalition says there are too many guides for the resource, which might be true, but there are way too many nets and longlines for the resource also.

Mel Erickson


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