Fisheries decision a disgrace

Posted: Friday, August 04, 2006

This letter is in regard to the commercial fishing in the Kasilof River Special Harvest Area.

As many people might already know, the gillnets have been fishing almost nonstop in front of the Kasilof River to slow down the enhanced run of reds entering the river. Just yesterday, July 22, the Kasilof had 2,000 reds pass the sonar for a total of 180,000 so emergency order No. 26 opens set gillnetting in front of the river until further notice and opens it for the drift fleet from 5 a.m. until 11 p.m. until further notice. This same type of fishery took place last year.

Unfortunately, this fishery is destroying what was once a very healthy second run of kings in the river. You cannot blame what few guides and private sport fishermen that fish the Kasilof in July on any shortage of kings.

Last year I observed the fewest amount of dead kings that I have seen in the last 20-plus years of fishing and living on the upper Kasilof, and I will not be surprised if this year is as bad or worse.

In September and October, there is a relatively large population of brown bears that congregate on the upper Kasilof. The kings that spawn on the upper Kasilof are their primary food source. It only takes one trip down the river to see this for your self. With all the brown bear issues that have been taking place these days, I am surprised that this terminal fishery is not stopped for this reason alone.

Considering that a good portion of the upper Kasilof River is on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge I am surprised the feds have not stepped in to try and stop this fishery.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game for the most part has done a good job managing our local fisheries, considering all the different user groups, but this is a management decision that is a disgrace to the department and should be stopped.

John Lesterson


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