Kenai River Sport Fishing Association stated the following in a letter to the Board of Fish about late run chinook salmon - " Current restrictions on the harvest of jack salmon do not allow a harvest of this size and age class proportional to abundance and is therefore unnessarily limiting harvest opportunity."
I want to use this as an example of how people can see things in the river but not understand the complexity of fishery management. What KRSA did was just look at the in-river harvest and indeed jacks appear to be underharvested - if one just looks at the sport fish data.
However, what KRSA failed to do (they have biological consultants so I am wondering if they used them), is to reconstruct the return with all harvest which includes the commercial fishery.
KAFC biologist did reconstruct the run while ADF&G biologist did it independent of KAFC and came up with the same results. The statement above is not true. KRSA did not take into consideration the commercial harvest which tends to target 1.2 chinook ( size of these fish are perfect for the gear). Some years the commercial harvest of 1.2 chinook is near 50% of the harvest.
Here are the data on harvest in proportion to abundance using all harvest data -
1. From 1986-2005 the average percent of 1.2 late run chinook in the total return is 13% - the percent in the harvest is 14%.
2. For the last 5 years it breaks down like this (I just used 5 years because of space limitations). 2001 - 17 Total Return 21 Harvest; 2002 - 20 TR 22 TH; 2003- 37 TR 35TH; 2004 17 TR 19 TH; and 2005 13 TR 17 TH.
So in fact ADF&G management of the stock is in proportion to harvest. I might add that this holds for all the other age classes. The combination of the commercial fishery and sport fishery provide an almost perfect management plan for harvesting in proportion to abundance.
This is why data are so important for these discussions. Perception is not reality sometimes and this is a perfect example.