Column needs a positive change

Letter to the Editor

Posted: Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Some things never change (Peninsula Clarion, An Outdoor View, Les Palmer, Jan. 4). Mr. Palmer, with the power of his pen, has once again shown his strong bias against commercial fishermen in Cook Inlet. Commercial fishermen have endured his assault for decades.

One thing that should change is "windows" mandatory closures of commercial setnet fisheries on the East-Side of Cook Inlet. The Alaska Board of Fish (BOF) sets in-river sockeye goals. The BOF then ties the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's (ADF&G) hands by requiring them to implement "windows." The result has been that the mandated in-river sockeye goals set by the Alaska BOF has been annually exceeded.

The Kenai River goal has been exceeded six out of the past seven years. In the Kasilof River the in-river goal has been exceeded 10 out of the past 11 years.

Why doesn't the state of Alaska's BOF direct the state's ADF&G to manage to the in-river goals that they have put in regulation? Kenai Peninsula Fisherman's Association (KPFA), an organization of East-Side Set-Netters (ESSN) has been asking this basic question for years.

KPFA has asked through proposals to open the Kenai and East Forelands sections seven days early and keep the East-Side fishery open for five additional days at the end of the season. Mr. Palmer wanted to know the effect on king and silver salmon trying to make it to the Kenai River, with this increase in fishing time.

ADF&G staff has indicated that approximately 200 king salmon would be harvested by fishing, the first week of July. The trade off would be for the ESSN fishery to harvest Kenai River sockeye in the area and also harvest a portion of the average 125,000 sockeye salmon that escapes into the Kasilof River by July 8.

From 2004 to 2007, an average 300,000 sockeye have gone past the sonar counter on the Kenai River from Aug. 11 to 17. KPFA would like its members to have an opportunity to harvest a portion of these salmon.

During this time frame there would be an opportunity to harvest a large surplus of pink salmon. ADF&G staff has indicated fishing an additional five days in August would result in harvest of about 3000 cohos.

KPFA feels that a harvest of several hundred thousand sockeye and pink salmon is a fair trade off for 3,000 coho and 200 king salmon possible entering he Kenai River.

Mr. Palmer there are over 100 proposals submitted to the BOF concerning personal-use and sportfish regulations.

Proposal 285 asks for another drift only day on the Kenai River. This proposal passed the Kenai-Soldotna Fish and Game Advisory Committee and would be a positive example of a good proposal to report on.

Mr. Palmer, if you could ever look past the end of your Kenai River ugly stick, there might come a positive article from you concerning the BOF. I personally won't hold my breath.

Gary L. Hollier


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