Commercial opening at the expense of sport fishermen

Posted: Tuesday, August 24, 2010

It appears that the Commercial Fisheries Biologist for the Kenai River is determined to exterminate the early run of Silver Salmon, along with all of the other fisheries that occur at the same time. He has allowed the commercial fisheries to net, non-stop, for the last 4 days. And no fish are entering the Kenai River.

On Aug. 8, I along with 40 other fishers tried to catch something at Cunningham Park in Kenai. Among this group of fishers, there were at least a dozen children hoping to catch a lowly Pink (Humpy). In 3 1/2 hours, not one fish was caught - no Silvers or Pinks. This was the third day in a row where no fish were harvested by license buying recreational fishermen.

I have supported many of my neighbors who commercial fish, as they need to make a living, and the resource needs to be properly managed for all users. This is not happening. I am now quickly becoming and anti-commercial person, as we obviously do not have any status in commercial fishing decisions. I am not alone in this belief. If the commercial fisheries biologist cannot, or will not, give all user groups access to the fisheries resource, then we must take matters in hand.

All non-commercial benefactors of the recreational fishery must enter into the up-coming fight. Lack of fish in the river has, and will get even worse, impacted the number of visitors to our economy. Fewer visitors means less room rentals, less RV spot rentals, less restaurant customers, less buyers for fishing licenses and equipment, and less spending overall. Commercial fishing does help the commercial fishers, but does not help the other parts of the local economy. We need both to be a healthy community. But we are not getting help from Fish and Game.

If we can't get equal treatment from the commercial fisheries biologist, then We The People must solve the problem. We can eliminate commercial fishing altogether - which will not benefit the resource. We can limit commercial fishing to the two opening per week, without allowing any "Emergency" openings. Or, we can dictate that the commercial fisheries biologist must allow 24 hour openings on a regular basis. Personally, I don't think that the commercial biologist is willing to assist us recreational users, so maybe the best answer is to fire him, and enact one or more of the above measures. There are thousands of recreational fishers, and we are mad enough to take the measure to the ballot box if we must. Fix the inequities now, or we will do it for you - you might not like the end result. A revolution is a very real possibility.

Len Malmquist


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