Letters to the Editor

Posted: Friday, June 22, 2001

Sport-fishing proponents need to consider potential for harm

When Don Johnson claims that Alaska's commercial fishermen are having to deal with farmed salmon, he is correct. When Mr. Johnson claims that Alaska's salmon are being retargeted to different use, he is correct. However, when Mr. Johnson claims that Alaska "... could very easily gain back ..." the value lost to the commercial fleet by retargeting wild salmon stocks to the sport fishing industry, his claim warrants a closer look. Moreover, when Mr. Johnson claims that "we" are "choosing" how to retarget fish use, one wonders who the "we" are and whether the choices are being made by us or for us.

First, given strict regulation and enforcement, commercial salmon fishing delivers wild salmon to the public with minimal environmental impact. Sport fishing, whether by individual anglers or by the guiding industry, involves significant potential for environmental damage: bank destruction, boat wakes, etc. Environmentalism costs money.

Second, the impetus behind the economics of commercial fishing is use of the salmon as food. The impetus driving the economics of sport fishing is fun or recreation. Increasingly, the modern mind recoils at using animals for fun as in trophy hunting and tournament fishing. Sport fishing, especially combat fishing, may offend more sensibilities than it appeals to.

Third, it takes many, many sport fishermen to equal the catch of one commercial fisherman. While some aspects of sport fishing are laudable, how much of a good thing does Alaska want?

Does Alaska want a Disneyland on the Kenai where the fish are the main ride?

Sport fishing is a viable use of Alaska's wild salmon, but it's somewhat more complicated than simply and indiscriminately trying to make money off the feeding frenzy. Sport fishing, by individuals and by commercial guides, is at least as problematic as is commercial fishing.

John Nelson, Soldotna

Motorist has one too many close calls with bicyclists

This has been an extremely difficult time to be driving in the Kenai-Soldotna area. Oh, the construction delays and detours are certainly problematic, but the major "problems" that I have encountered have been kids on bicycles. I don't know what makes this year especially bad and dangerous, but it has been horrible.

June 13, I nearly hit two boys on one bike that started to cross Kalifornsky Beach Road where the bed-and-breakfast lodge and beaver pond are located. These two were attempting to join other kids on bikes on the left side of the road. The boys, who were not wearing helmets, pulled out in front of me; however, by braking hard I was able to stop about 20 feet from them.

One had jumped off the bike when he heard the car braking and then "froze" in the middle of the lane. The driver of the bike was stopped about the middle of the road and the other kids and their bikes were on the left.

There was no place to even swerve around them had I been any closer and unable to stop. Fortunately, the cars behind me were also able to stop and nobody was injured.

On Monday, while driving down Candlelight, another boy pulled right in front of me from the right. Again, this boy had not even looked in my direction. This time I was able to stop about 50 feet away.

Wednesday, while driving on the dirt road behind the Red Diamond Center, a child on a motorized dirt bike came off the dirt lot near Save U More and onto the road directly in front of me. He did not look to see if anybody was coming and never did look to see if anyone was on the road. He probably still doesn't know that I had to stop to keep from hitting him with my car.

We have kids on dirt bikes and four-wheelers that drive on the easement in front of our home and several of them use the incline to our driveway as a ramp to become airborne over and across our driveway. With a solid fence along our property that reaches the easement, we cannot see these kids approaching and nearly had a collision with one. Fortunately, he wasn't one of those that really race through the area. Had he been, we wouldn't have been so fortunate.

My car can only be in one place at any given time. I am certain that I have not found the only kids in this area that don't bother looking where they are driving their bikes or racing through neighborhoods as though the easement is theirs for their enjoyment.

Parents, please instruct your kids on the correct way to be in or near traffic. Somebody's child is going to be seriously hurt or killed if they aren't careful.

Sharon Nusunginya, Soldotna

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