Letters to the Editor

Posted: Thursday, February 07, 2002

Healthy populations of fish have large component of young

Regarding Roby Littlefield's letter decrying the young age composition and "wanton waste" of Sitka herring: Let's use some biological common sense. Healthy populations absolutely have a large young component; if all the fish are old, biologists are concerned for the future, be it herring or Kenai River king salmon.

Sometimes, a particularly large age class moves through the population as is presently happening with halibut. Last spring's Sitka herring spawn was documented as one of the largest on record, and the biologists are to be commended for their conservative and sustainable management.

The issue of wanton waste is also bogus as all the fish is used for roe, bait, food or meal and oil.

The Kenai Peninsula benefits disproportionately from this distant fishery as 11 percent of the permits are held by local residents and, along with several local tendering vessels, this provides a nice economic boost in late March.

Jessie Nelson


Not everyone's dream of quality of life includes long lines of RVs

This is in response to letter "Sport fishing isn't just about fish." Indeed it is all about fish.

Tourism isn't necessarily all about fish, but sport fishing is. Greg Brush seems to believe that tourism is a godsend, where I see it completely different. I do understand there is a positive impact to the economy, and if that is what quality of life is all about to him, well, then what a happy camper he must be. If he makes his living in June, July and August from the amount of recreational vehicles that visit the Kenai Peninsula area, then he must be a happy camper.

Unfortunately, for me, my lifelong dream of quality living doesn't include shopping at a "superstore" or eating in a fast food restaurant, and I was never stumped as to what to give as gifts for Christmas. The "superstores" have not brought new ideas to this town; they have replaced the ones that were already here. Take a look around town at the empty "dino-stores." They have replaced local with corporate, giving to the economy minimum wage, part-time jobs. Tourism has turned the Kenai Peninsula into a service town, a place to gas up and grab a burger on your way to somewhere nice.

You mainly focused on the economy part of tourism; let's take a look at the negative impact of the beast. The state pours money by the truckload into promotion of visiting Alaska, yet where is the state infrastructure to support their visits?

How can they invite all these people and not have enough bathrooms, camp areas, highways and pullouts to support them? Shall we be content with having RVs set up wherever they like on the side of any road on the peninsula? Shall we be content with visitors by the droves stomping the precious banks of any river along the way? Since it is only for three months, should we be happy about the traffic, long lines and delays on the highway? Smile and tell the kids we cannot camp at Johnson Lake until late August because it is full of RVs?

Do we need to just smile and exercise patience when tourism is not creating a new economy, but executing a hostile takeover of an existing summer economy of commercial fishing and its support industry; industries of people whose majority live here? Send their children to school here? Pay taxes and support the local economy during the holiday season?

When quality of life in a community is changed by whether Joe from Idaho is having a good time or not, whether he caught a fish and gassed up at a reasonable price, I get worried.

So, when you get behind a slow-moving RV this summer, and do not mind it, the place for you is the Alaska tourism board meetings, not the Board of Fish meetings. The Board of Fish meetings are supposed to be about biology, not tourism. They are about the health of the river systems, not how many fish can we stick in a river to appease the visitors and supply them with over-ample opportunity to be successful in a sport.

Sheila Garrant


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