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Emergency openings give unfair advantage to commercial fishers

Posted: Thursday, July 22, 2004

Kenai River commercial fishermen are doing great. However, minimal sockeye fishing for anglers and dipnetters is upsetting. I'm extremely disappointed with the method and reasoning of the emergency openings in favor of the commercial fishermen with disregard for the sport fishermen and even Alaska residents attempting to supplement their winter food supply by dipnetting, such as Saturday, July 17. I have never seen anything so political in my life. I wish someone who makes the decisions would get off the fence and decide completely how to rule.

I had 10 family members visiting my home in Ninilchik for a week. None had every caught a sockeye. They still have not caught a sockeye and their memory of Alaska is of the many fish that the commercial fishermen caught when the Kenai River was blocked by nets. I pay $200 a year for a fishing license to learn that it is very useless to fish many days because the commercial fishermen get all the fish.

Why is the local government subsidizing the commercial fishing with all the excessive emergency openings? There should be equal opportunity for the fish that swim the rivers and for all Alaskans and the sport fishermen trying to catch the fish. There seems to be a lot of greed and selfishness in manipulating the system in their favor at the expense of the Alaskans and the sport fishermen. It seems to me that a reasonable and logical solution would be to set up a one-mile corridor from the inlet, where no commercial nets could be placed, allowing some salmon to enter the river seven days a week and allowing the commercial thugs to also fish seven days a week. What more could they want? Is this too simple? Probably yes.

It's obvious that the commercial boys are not satisfied with that, because they want it all for themselves, for whatever time they can manipulate from the system. It just doesn't seem right for governing bodies to be manipulated so easily by a select group just so they can make more money. In my lifetime, if I wasn't making enough money at what I was doing, I found another line of employment where I made more income.

I hope someone with the power and the guts will make a decision for fairness for both sides. Or, just let the commercial fishermen have it all. At least everyone who visits or lives in Alaska would know they could buy sockeyes from their local commercial fishermen if they wanted one. I'll bet the price would be a little more than the going rate they were getting at the cannery but that's just a little price gouging. But, this is Alaska.

If anyone shares my opinions and feelings, please contact the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Soldotna.

Ken Rucker

Ninilchik



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