Fishermen's News July 2011
By Margaret Bauman
For the second year in a row, the South Peninsula fishing fleet has decided to sit out the first opener of the salmon fishery to avoid the political controversies that arise when their catch of sockeye salmon includes a large number of chum salmon.
The Aleutians East Borough at Sand Point said the decision was made June 4, after subsistence fishermen noted that the chum-to-sockeye ratios were still high.
The period ran from June 7 through June 10.
Salmon fishermen from these villages realized that chum salmon catches during the June fishery are politically dangerous, borough officials said.
In the past Area M fishermen have been accused of affecting the subsistence and commercial chum salmon runs to the Arctic Yukon Kuskokwim region of Western Alaska.
In 2001, the Alaska Board of Fisheries implemented severe restrictions which hurt the Area M fishing fleet, then lifted those restrictions in 2004 after finding no evidence that previous chum salmon fishing restrictions resulted in any improvement in the chum runs to the AYK region.
The South Peninsula fishing fleet hopes that by taking voluntary measures like this purse seine stand down, they can maximize their sockeye harvest without stirring up the controversy that accompanies large chum catches, the group said.
According to the states Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission there are 59 seine permits held by local fishermen and 35 from out-of-state.
Margaret Bauman can be reached at email@example.com.