Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Alaska Board of Fisheries Debates Kenai River Management Issues

The Alaska Board of Fisheries, which is meeting in Anchorage Jan. 31 through Feb. 13, is wrestling with a number of issues related to salmon management, including the best way to manage king salmon on the Kenai River.

After much testimony from all sides, the board failed to pass a proposal from the Kenai River Sportfishing Association to amend the Upper Cook Inlet Salmon Management Plan to drop in-river goals from the list of escapement goals and prioritize achieving the lower end over exceeding the upper end of an escapement goal. The proposal would have required the Department of Fish and Game to utilize all prescriptive elements found in codified plans before going outside of codified plans to achieve established escapement goals.

Commercial setnet fishermen opposed the measure, introduced as Proposal 103. Arni Thomson, executive director of the Alaska Salmon Alliance, said his organization felt that Proposal 103 further restricts adaptive management and undermines the department’s ability to make in-season decisions. “The application of the language in this proposal could eliminate commercial fisheries,” Thomson said in a letter to Glenn Haight, executive director of the Alaska Board of Fisheries.

“There is no methodology for measuring the effects of commercial fishing restrictions; there is no way to determine cause and effect. It is virtually impossible to connect a restriction on the drift fleet in mid-July to some variance in escapement to a stream in the Mat-Su (Matanuska-Susitna Valley) that isn’t counted until 30-60 days later.”

A link to audio on all public sessions of the Board of Fisheries meeting is at

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