Dipnet disgrace

Posted: Thursday, July 23, 2009

Citizens of Kenai, I need your help. How much longer are we going to allow the horrific management of the personal-use dipnet fishery to continue? Yes, I know the city brings in a pile of money from the masses gathered to fish. And, I know we are able to build better docks, dune protection and walkways as a result of these dollars. But, ask yourself: Did we need them before the chaos? These are reactive measures, not proactive.

Let me suggest three simple proactive management measures that would right this sinking ship.

1) Twenty-five fish for head of household and 10 per dependent is way too many. I am allowed 55 fish. My 1-year-old son will eat 10 fish this year: true or false? The rule should be 20 per family or five per person, whichever is greater. And, how was the current number derived? Subsistence needs? Really!

Ask yourself how much you could provide for your family if you did not buy the two dipnets, the 22-foot Willy Predator and the 50-horse four-stroke. I am not trying to single anybody out, simply attempting to point out the disconnect.

2) If the commercial fishermen are closed from fishing due to low escapement numbers, then the dipnetters and, for that matter, rod-and-reel red fisherman should be, also. Are we managing for river health or short-term economics?

Fish and Game this is simple. You have in-river management tools and out-of-river management tools. Why do you only use the out-of-river tools? Sadly the answer is the mighty dollar.

3) A checkpoint should be set up at the exit of the Kenai city dock and down on the beaches to check everyone to make sure they follow the rules. Zero tolerance, $1,000 fine, loss of all fish. Fine proceeds pay the officers manning the checkpoints, and fish go to the food bank or are sold to a processor for city revenue. I know of many people who routinely dipnet throughout the month, rarely recording a single fish. I am not alone.

I need your help. Please join me in urging the city and state to curb this madness. We are loosing our community for the month of July. We gain crime, we gain environmental destruction, and we gain a little bit of money. Is it really worth it?

Ryan Tunseth


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