Wagoner Funding a Loser

Posted: Wednesday, March 03, 2004

After reading the Peninsula Clarion Feb. 26 article "Senate seeking appeal in fish stocking case," I felt compelled to respond.

In today's day and age of budget cuts that include schools, community services and longevity programs, it is beyond me why Sen. Tom Wagoner seeks to continue to fund Cook Inlet acquaculture enhancement projects even to the point of using our tax dollars to fight Cook Inlet Acquaculture Association's legal battles!

I wonder if Wagoner is a permit holder? Many times both the state and the federal government have differed loans or paid off the principal on defunct CIA loans. When are we going to quit throwing our tax dollars to an entity that can not even fund itself? If our commercial fisheries are going to survive it's not by harvesting more 4 pound sockeye salmon...it is going to be by providing a 6 to 10 lb high quality native sockeye that can't be farmed. Unfortunately, few of these exist in the Tustumena drainage as they have had to compete with millions of stocked fry that get a head start. Yes, the fry all are taken from Bear creek, but if you look at the data these fish are all much smaller than other native stocks especially those found in Nikolai creek and other non-enhanced drainages. Many of the stocked fish are not even catchable by gill nets as they are too small for the mesh. (Remember the Hidden Lake fiasco). Therefore, many have had a free pass to go breed with the few native sockeye that survived the last 20 plus years of enhancement and heavy netting pressure. This is all small tomatoes to the fact that twice all of the enhanced fry have had to be destroyed by CIA because of the outbreak of the deadly IHN virus. Is there a bigger threat today our native stocks than that? Can you imagine if those fry would have been released to mingle with native stocks? All for a net economic value of 400 thousand dollars? Hmm? Lets see by my math $400,000 divided by a thousand commercial fisherman adds up to 400 bucks a piece. That's going to make or break your year? I don't think so. Let's regain a true "Kenai Wild" fish and deliver a premium product for a premium price! Right now every fishery in Cook Inlet could be enhanced and allocated to commercial interests and many fishermen still would not be able to make a living. It's time to look at the big picture and offer something special (big native fish) an quit systematically destroying the gene pool of native stocks.

Andrew Szczesny

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