Letters to the Editor

Posted: Wednesday, February 09, 2000

Letters to the Editor

Kenai River being crippled by sport fishing pressure

Don Johnson's latest letter for the sport fishermen is more belly aching, this time for losing one king salmon to the East Side setnetters. If anyone should be called hypocrites, it should be the sport fishers. They have been blaming the commercial fishermen for a problem the sport fishery caused.

Commercial fishing is one of the oldest industries in our state. Commercial fishermen fed their families and supported the economy of Alaska long before a sport hook was thrown into the Kenai River. Now Johnson talks about the inlet salmon as "sport fish stocks" and complains that they are "being intercepted by other user groups because of non-targeting fishing gear" and that people coming from the Lower 48 are "plunder(ing) a commonly owned resource." How many of the commercial sport fishing guides live in Alaska year round or pay property taxes? I know a great many do not, but come up here believing "they are somehow owed a living from our natural resources."

Sport fishermen are not satisfied that they are able to fish April through June without a single worry about the commercial fishermen incidentally catching any of the king salmon the sport fishermen claim belong to them. They are not satisfied that the lifelong residents can't fish the early run king salmon as we used to because the sport fishermen got the rules changed. Granted, we do have 10 days of net fishing, but it's not during a king run.

The sport fishing advocates freely use the term "personal use" to make it seem as if we are getting our allocation. Like we are getting a great big helping hand in our efforts to catch our winter supply. It's just scheming double talk to favor themselves.

The sport fishing industry will not be satisfied until they destroy more salmon processing plants, like Columbia Wards for example. Many local people who have worked at that plant for years have suddenly found themselves without their seasonal jobs. It is evident the sport fishermen won't be satisfied until they eliminate the commercial fishermen altogether. But they won't have to worry about them, because the sport fishery will have destroyed the run.

The Kenai River was not crippled by greedy commercial fishermen but the constant pressure of the sportsmen fishing in the river itself. Crippled by the selfish greed of the commercial sport fishermen, most of whom are nonresidents, who make thousands of dollars taking nonresidents out on the river to harass (by hook and release) the fish that Johnson says belong to the people of Alaska.

Johnson's remark about the East Side setnetters being hypocrites is ridiculous. I've been an East Side setnetter and a fish trap tender, but I never ever pretended to be what I wasn't. I was just a hard-working fisherman like the rest of my honest, hard-working fishing neighbors. If we caught a king salmon incidentally, we usually saved it for our own use and occasionally sold it with the rest of our catch, and that's how it should be now. If you catch a fish in your net, it's your fish!

The kings the commercial fishermen have been releasing in respect to another user group is like taking money out of their own pocket and placing it in the bank account of a very greedy, thankless sport fisherman.

Our inlet and river fish are for all user groups. As Johnson states, they belong to each and every state resident and all residents should have a chance to access them.

It is time the residents of this state are looked upon as one of the needy user groups for the fish resource. The personal use fishermen have been limited more than any other user group. We have been cut off completely since many of us don't have the money the sport fishery has to lobby the Board of Fisheries for our rightful share.

So, I say, if there is a slow fish run, all user groups should be shut down, and that should include hook and release.

The East Side setnetters are not the hypocrites here. It's sport fishermen, like Johnson, who say all user groups have a right to this commonly owned resource, but fight against those other user groups to have their access limited and now want to dictate the gear allowed by those other groups. In my opinion, the real hypocrites are the sports fishermen.

Emil Dolchok

A lifelong Kenai resident

Act of human stupidity causes

more stress to struggling moose

I witnessed a most shameful act earlier this week and am very happy to say I do not know the person who did it!

I was watching a cow moose and her calf at the junction of South Sterling Street and the West Riverside Avenue Extension. They had been fighting their way through the deep snows and emerged onto the road by the public mailbox stand to rest before heading into the unplowed woods again. A pale-colored station wagon came from the Riverside Extension and, upon seeing the moose ahead, made no attempt to slow down. There was plenty of time to reduce the speed and room to very slowly pass without more stress than necessary to the animals. This person chose to keep the speed up, spook the animals into running down the street before him-her, and then honk the horn as if they could step off into the four or more foot high bank on either side.

These poor creatures are hungry, tired and being worn down by the elements. They do not need the assistance of people to stress them even further. Just that much extra spent energy could have been the trigger to see the calf does not last the winter.

I hope that driver's final resting place is on an endless railroad track followed by a speeding train blowing its whistle through eternity.

Georgia L. Griffin



Students, other volunteers make

awards banquet memorable eventP>

The Soldotna Senior Center would like to thank Soldotna High School National Honor Society students Tasha Zsoter, Michele Lamb, Sarah Daigle and Ashley Freestone for volunteering at our annual awards banquet. We would like to commend you for a job well done.

The center also would like to thank the Trickle-Down Creek Band for the fine performance and great music, and thanks to the kitchen volunteers Ivy Danker, Ken Losser and Jan and Dave Fena for a superb meal. For the many, many volunteers that work so hard for the center, a big thank you -- we could not do it without you.

Ina M. Weingardt

Soldotna Area Senior Citizens

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