Ten days of fishing for the Kasilof set gillnet fishery, another 44 for the Kasilof dipnet fishery, and 22 days for the Kenai dipnet fishery. It all adds up to a lot of data when the numbers of fishermen and fish harvested get factored in, and this information is used by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to make future management decision for all fisheries -- which is the reason the agency asks for the permits to be returned.
"The more permits we get back, the more accurate our estimates are. The more we don't get back, the more fish go unaccounted for," said Kristine Dunker, a fisheries biologist with Fish and Game in Anchorage.
August 15 was the deadline for permits to be returned, and Dunker said most fishermen returned the permits on time, but there are annually a few thousands folks who procrastinate.
"September 15 we'll send out a reminder to anyone who has not returned their permits, and we usually get a couple thousand back after that. In mid-October we'll send out another reminder, for those still out there," she said.
After the second round of reminders, Fish and Game will wait until Nov. 15, but after that, biologists must begin compiling the information they have. Any permits not returned by then become subject to violation, which can result in a $200 fine and loss of future fishing privileges for these scofflaws.
Even people who have lost their permits are still required to send in some form of information about their summer fishing activities, according to Dunker.
"We understand that permits can get wet, damaged or lost," she said.
However, these people are still asked to send a letter to Fish and Game that states their name, mailing address, 2009 sport fishing license number, driver's license number, the names of other household members, and when and where they fished and the number of each species caught.
"We also ask that people who fished, but didn't catch anything, write a zero for that date and location, because we need to know the difference between people who didn't fish from those who didn't catch," Dunker said.
"This helps us determine things such as run timing, when people were going fishing, and when they were successful," she added.
Dunker said Fish and Game has determined that typically 88-89 percent of permits issued will be returned, but in 2008 that number dipped slightly as only 85 percent of the 23,722 permits issued were received back.
"In 2008, we issued the largest number of permits to date, but this year could exceed that. We had 30,000 printed, plus an additional 5,000 printed after vendors began running out," she said.
Vendors return their unissued permits, along with the information from issued permits, which further helps Fish and Game produce an accurate number of total permits issued.
Permits can be mailed to Fish and Game, or delivered in person to local offices during regular business hours. For more information on returning personal-use permits, call Kristine Dunker in Anchorage at 907-267-2218.
Joseph Robertia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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