Letters to the Editor

Posted: Sunday, December 02, 2001

Fish board erred when it approved yearly bag limit of five kings

Editor's Note: The following letter was written to Ed Dersham, chair of the Alaska Board of Fisheries, and submitted for publication.

I am writing in regard to proposal No. 17 of the lower Cook Inlet proposal booklet concerning king salmon bag limits. I believe that several pieces of information were either overlooked or unavailable when the Board of Fish voted for a five fish yearly limit.

It was my understanding that a king salmon task force was to be appointed to address king salmon issues including bag limits. Unfor-tunately, this never materialized. We were advised here in Homer at the advisory committee meeting dealing with this proposal that there would be little emphasis placed on any king salmon proposals since the task force had yet to be established.

Believing that it is not necessary to lobby with numbers of people, but instead use the vehicle provided by the Board of Fisheries, which are the local advisory committees, and one or two representatives to convey our feelings, I didn't attend the board meetings. I was told that one of the subcommittee members dealing with this proposal felt it wasn't much of an issue since no one was there to present testimony. What is the function of the advisory committee then if not to pass on local sentiment to the Board of Fish?

I am hoping that with the above concerns and some additional information, you individually and collectively, as a board, will reconsider your lower Cook Inlet king bag limits.

1. There is no quantified biological reason for reduced bag limits. The state Department of Fish and Game is neutral on this proposal.

2. This law creates the most restrictive limits on the entire Pacific West Coast including Canada.

3. According to the Board of Fish subcommittee minute summation, the winter king salmon troll fishery creates a problem when negotiating the Pacific salmon treaty. If, in fact, this fishery is a problem, it is time to include an allocation from the treaty harvest numbers. The treaty itself recognizes that the most significant rearing and grazing area for immature chinook is the western Gulf of Alaska, in which Cook Inlet sits in the middle. The winter king salmon harvest is quantified at less than 2,500 fish, while the Southeast sports share of the treaty quota is 20 percent, or 40,000 to 50,000 fish, depending on total treaty allocation.

4. A very small number of Pacific coast endangered chinook stocks are caught in the lower Cook Inlet region. The fact is, the farther north and west you travel geographically, the lower the percentage of southern Pacific coast stocks are encountered as evidenced by tag returns. This puts the endangered stocks at more risk in fisheries closer geographically to their home streams, namely those fisheries in Southeast Alaska.

5. Virtually no local stocks are taken. Of the nearly 2 million wire-coded, tagged fish released in the Cook Inlet region, none have been returned from the Cook Inlet area. In fact, there have been tag returns of immature Kenai River chinook caught off the coast of Oregon. Cook Inlet chinook don't rear in the Cook Inlet region.

6. Growth of the fishery has nearly stopped. Mother Nature limits this fishery. Winter storms, ice in the harbors and freezing temperatures preclude many fishers from participating.

7. This is an historical fishery. Born in Seldovia across from Homer in 1949, I can remember stories of locals trolling in Seldovia Bay in the winter by rowing skiffs.

In conclusion, simply regulating this fishery out of existence because it doesn't affect many people is unacceptable. This is a predominately resident fishery, historically established, not biologically endangering any stocks, and expanding little, if at all.

Thank you for your anticipated consideration in this matter.

Robert B. Moss


Board's action does more damage to already- hurting fishing industry

Editor's Note: The following letter was written to Gov. Tony Knowles, the state Department of Fish and Game and the Alaska Boards Support Section and submitted for publication.

My name is Calvin Sorrows. I live in Homer. I have been fishing in Cook Inlet since 1960. I had setnet sites. I also had a limited-entry permit for Cordova. I also had a combo shrimp-crab permit out of Kodiak. When I became disabled and retired, I moved to Homer as I had always planned. The recreational value down here is unlimited.

The Board of Fish has always tried to do a good job of managing the fishery. Although I don't always agree with its decisions, I pretty much support them.

This proposal No. 17 action was not right. I know it wasn't, and the board knows it. All nine fish and game advisory board committees voted against proposal No. 17. It was done in Anchorage where the fishermen of Homer didn't have a chance to say anything. Please rescind this action.

If I go out fishing for only one week and to be legal I can only catch my five kings for the year? Does this mean my boat sits in the harbor for 51 weeks?

These fish are said to be from Canada, Washington and Oregon. There isn't a troll fishery in Canada now. The government bought their boats and permits. This winter feeder king salmon fishery in Homer is very small. Eighty-five percent of Homer anglers caught one or less kings in the winter.

This means I don't have to pay harbor fees in Homer Harbor anymore. All five fish in three days trolling, a $10-a-day launch fee. We are not supporting our city of Homer this way. The fuel dock does not sell fuel. People get laid off. The fishing tackle places don't sell tackle and bait to go fishing anymore. It puts the herring fishermen and their boats and crews out of work. This is a trickle-down effect that ruins our fishery.

There has never been a biological study done on this fishery. It is so small it does not need a study. It will take care of itself. Until this study is done or not, this proposal No. 17 should be rescinded. The way it was done was not right. Our fishing economy needs all the boost it can get.

Calvin A. Sorrows


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