Letters to the Editor

Posted: Wednesday, March 12, 2003

More drift-only days on Kenai also would benefit salmon stocks

Ted Wellman, in his "Voices of the Peninsula" piece concerning early-run Kenai kings, presented as a possible solution to dwindling salmon stocks limiting the number of guides. Might I also suggest having more "drift-only" days on the river. This would limit most guides to a single trip a day, they would not be able to hover constantly in the same hole, and it would simply make for a much less hectic and more enjoyable experience for all fishermen.

Anyone who has experienced Monday "drift-only" days on the lower river, or has fished above Skilak Lake, knows how relaxing fishing can be under these circumstances, even when its crowded.

This would also help limit the detrimental effects of boat wakes on spawning habitat.

Dave Atcheson, Sterling

Recommendations favor nonresidents over locals

The Kenai-Soldotna Fish and Game Advisory Committee and Kenai River Property Owners Association recommendations for early-run kings will give more opportunity to nonresident anglers, while leaving resident anglers sitting on the beach.

Many resident and local anglers who fish with a guide are physically unable to operate a boat, do not own or cannot afford the proper boat for the Kenai.

As a local resident angler who lives just a few miles from the river and uses the assistance and skill of a guide to access the fishery, I feel it is not right for myself, or other residents, to be restricted from fishing, while some nonresident from the Lower 48 who rents or has his own boat, or a friend with a boat, is allowed to fish.

There may be too many guides, but restricting me and other resident anglers who access the fishery by guide boat will not reduce guide numbers.

I am only allowed one king per day and two per year just like everyone else. I choose to use my opportunity to try to catch my salmon, but my opportunity is being taken away by people who choose not to use their opportunity to harvest their fish.

Then, these same people whine about me harvesting more than my fair share.

The point is not parity in harvest, but parity in opportunity to harvest. Guided residents don't have equal opportunity now, and you still want to take more opportunity away from us.

According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, guided residents only account for about 5 percent of the harvest. Nonguided, nonresidents account for 22 percent of the harvest.

The Kenai is the only place in the whole state where residents are punished for using a guide. If I or any resident hires a guide for moose hunting we are treated equally, have the same regulations as unguided hunters and are given the same opportunity to harvest a moose as any other resident.

If there is a shortage of game or fish in other areas of the state, then it is the nonresident who is given less opportunity. Why is it different here on the Kenai?

The state is in noncompliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act by not allowing disabled anglers who need assistance to access a public resource in a state park, while the rest of the public is allowed access. The state is probably also in violation of the Constitution by restricting a segment of resident anglers while allowing nonresidents access to a state resource. Why should a guided resident have less opportunity than an unguided nonresident?

If the local advisory committee and property owners really want increased opportunity and preference for local residents, they should equally include all local residents and amend their recommendations to change all current early-run guided angler restrictions and proposed restrictions to nonresident restrictions. This will then be fair to all residents and nonresidents. It will also include the nonresidents who use rental boats, their own boats and friends' boats.

Modifying the regulations to allow guided residents to fish 24 hours a day, Tuesday through Sunday and also Mondays in drift boats then restricting all nonresidents to 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday with no fishing on Sunday and Monday will accomplish three goals:

1. Increased preference and equal opportunity for residents.

2. A greater reduction in exploitation and harvest than the current recommendation from the advisory committee, and it gets all this increased reduction from the nonresidents.

3. A reduction in crowding by taking unguided, nonresident boats off the river and the majority of rental boats and guide boats off the river during restricted times.

If the advisory committee's goal is really and truly out to give preference to resident anglers, and not just out to restrict guided anglers, then they will amend its recommendation for the support of the above regulation change.

Jill Skidmore (Joe Fisherwoman), Soldotna

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