With the snow still blowing and ice continuing to cover large portions of the Kenai and Kasilof rivers, it’s hard to imagine thinking about dipnetting, but several people already are.
Steve Vanek of Ninilchik has been thinking about it a lot, which is why he submitted two proposals to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Board of Fisheries one of which could significantly affect the amount of fish dipnetters can harvest.
Proposal No. 245 would amend the regulations statewide and make the number of fish a dipnetter could retain in streams and rivers the same as the daily bag limit for the hook and line sportfishermen in the same body of water. In the Kenai river, that would be three sockeyes per day.
“The bag limit for personal-use dipnetting is too high,” Vanek said.
Vanek said he takes issue with the bag limit because dipnetting is a recreational activity and not a subsistence fishery, “but you wouldn’t know it based on a bag limit of 25 fish for head of household and 10 for each additional member.”
Vanek said allowing for such a generous dipnetting bag limit restricts commercial fishing opportunities without compensating commercial fishermen, thus contributing to economic instability for them.
“It also affects the sportfishing because dipnetters are taking fish before hook-and-line fishermen get a crack at them,” he said.
Vanek said he believes reducing the dipnetting bag limit will increase fishing opportunities for commercial and sportfishermen, but not everyone agrees.
“I think there will be strong opposition to this proposal,” said Ricky Gease, executive director of the Kenai River Sportfishing Association.
“As an organization, we promote predictable and meaningful sport and personal-use fisheries opportunities within the Kenai River Watershed, and we don’t agree this is likely to benefit the sport and personal-use fisheries,” Gease said.
“It might, very likely, benefit the commercial fishermen, but it would not benefit traditional hook-and-line fishermen,” he added.
Sherry Wright, Board of Fisheries Southcentral Region coordinator in Anchorage, said she already has been contacted by others opposed to Vanek’s proposal.
“We’ve had a couple of calls about it, but like I told them, anyone that wants their comments to get to the board needs to write them up, or come to the March meeting and provide oral testimony,” she said, referring to the Board of Fish meeting scheduled for March 9-13 in Anchorage.
Wright said written comments should be submitted by fax or mail at least two weeks prior to the meeting.
Written comments should indicate the proposal number to which the comments apply and specifically state “support” or “opposition” to the proposal, with a brief explanation of why.
Written comments may be sent to: Board of Fisheries Comments, ADFG, P.O. Box 115526, Juneau, AK 99811; or faxed to (907) 465-6094.
Currently dipnetters in the Kenai River are allowed to keep 25 salmon for a permit holder and 10 additional fish for each additional household member in a season. A proposal before the Board of Fish would limit dipnetters to the same daily bag limit as hook and line anglers, which on the Kenai is three fish per day.
Joseph Robertia can be reached at joseph.robertia@ peninsulaclarion.com.
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