Charter operators don't like changes in king salmon rules

Posted: Friday, November 23, 2001

SEWARD (AP) -- A decision by the Board of Fisheries to set a year-round five-fish limit on king salmon taken from Cook Inlet and Resurrection Bay has upset some charter boat operators.

The fish board voted 6-0, with one member abstaining, earlier this month to limit the number of king salmon caught in a year in Cook Inlet and Resurrection Bay waters to five. The new rule is expected to go into effect in January

Currently, anglers in Cook Inlet are limited to five kings within an April 1 to Sept. 30 window, with no limits for the remainder of the year except a two kings per day, two in possession rule.

Those fishing in Resurrection Bay can catch an unlimited number, subject to the two-per-day, two-in-possession rule.

Winter charter boat owners are the most concerned. They worry that prospective customers will use up their quota during the more popular summer season.

The board's decision amended a proposal that would have established a bag limit in Cook Inlet waters of two king salmon for the winter fishery between Nov. 1 and March 31.

''That basically shut me out of my winter business,'' said Dianne Dubuc, owner of Alaska Saltwater Charters and the first charter boat operator to offer winter king trips in Resurrection Bay.

This will be Dubuc's fourth winter plying the bay's deep water for the popular kings. But Dubuc said her Alaskan clients are up in arms about the yearly bag limit and she is unsure what the future holds for her attempt at promoting winter tourism in Seward.

Wayne Wells of Nautilus Charters, who began winter king charters on his own last year after fishing with Dubuc, said he doesn't think the five-king limit would hurt his business too badly.

''I don't have that many clients that get more than five kings a year anyway,'' he said. ''But I don't know why they did it here in the bay.''

Barry Stratton, Fish and Game's area sport fish management biologist, said there were two reasons for the board's decision.

''Winter kings are a big issue,'' Stratton told the Seward Phoenix Log in an interview. ''The majority of winter kings caught are not from local streams, but from British Columbia and even a few from Washington and Oregon.''

Also, since kings are so widely coveted, the board felt it was fair to set limits on them in salt water to spread out the resource, Stratton said.

Dubuc disagrees with the board's reasoning.

''I mean, how much impact am I having on the resource?'' she asked.

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