Chamber's parade theme hurts Cook Inlet commercial fishers

Posted: Monday, April 25, 2005

I am sorry to say that I am a commercial fisherman who takes offense at the Kenai Chamber of Commerce's theme for this years parade which is "Dip Netting on the Kenai."

I realize that there was not an intent to offend me, however, that does not make the salt burn any less in the wound. Every fish that is dipped comes directly out of the historic commercial fishery allocation because the counter is upsteam of the dip-netters. In other words, the commercial fishery will be restricted until the dippers get their three hundred thousand plus sockeyes.

All of the sockeyes were fully allocated between the sport fishermen and the commercial fishermen long before the dip-netting started. Thus, in order to provide the 300,000 + fish to the dip-netters, the sockeye had to be taken from someone else. They were not taken from the sport fishermen.

Dip-netting first began when, for whatever reason, the commercial fishermen and the sport fishermen were unable to harvest the surplus of fish above the escapement goal.

Dip-netting was opened at those times to harvest this surplus. Now, dipping starts on a set date regardless of the size of the run or even if there is a surplus. This is another 300,000-plus that have to be allowed into the river in addition to the escapement goal and the fish allocated to the sportsmen. Dip-netting is also an affront to the true subsistence people who have traditionally had subsistence nets on the beach or in the river.

The Chamber of Commerce characterizes this activity as fun. I have friends who freely admit that they dip-net so they can get fish to send to relatives and friends Outside.

The State on the one hand organizes a task force to revitialize the fishing industry and the Board of Fish on the other hand devitilizes the same industry on the Peninsula by allocating more salmon away from the industry so people can recreate and have fun.

I'm sorry the Chamber has chosen this theme because it is a slap in the face to all the commercial fishing families who make their home on this peninsula.

I for one choose not to attend this celebration.

Steve Vanek, Ninilchik



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