Someone had to do it.... may as well be me.
As we have already demonstrated on the other thread, there is no imminent danger from sockeye "overescapement" (at least not at the magnitude of escapement the Kenai is currently experiencing) yet ADFG has not been bold enough to make that call that the BEG for LR kings will NOT be met for 2011. Just as it was probably NOT met in 2009 and 2010.
Feast your eyes on this....
Kenai River King Salmon Escapement
Goal Predicted Not To Be Met
For the First Time Ever, Yet East Side
Set Net Fishery Remains Open
Soldotna -- Kenai River Sportfishing Association (KRSA) is extremely concerned that the lower end of the escapement goal range for late-run king salmon in the Kenai River will not be achieved. Today, the board of directors of the state's largest sportfishing organization unanimously approved a vote of no confidence in the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) Commissioner Cora Campbell and fishery division directors.
KRSA has urged the department to provide assurance that the lower limit of the spawning goal range (17,800 king salmon) be met, or take whatever management action necessary to bring the final number of late-run king salmon spawning in the Kenai River as close as possible to this minimum number.
The obvious remaining "tool" is immediate closure of the East Side set net fishery. The commercial fishery has had a near record season, harvesting more than 5 million sockeye to-date.
Beginning at 11 a.m. today, ADF&G authorized a 56-hour continuous fishing period for the commercial set nets at the mouth of the Kenai River.
It is common knowledge that the department is struggling to count the number of king salmon entering the Kenai River. For this entire season they have been very guarded in the manner in which they have described abundance, but management actions are being implemented based on department assessments.
In the absence of a precise estimate of king salmon abundance provided by ADF&G, KRSA fisheries staff uses the raw data found on the department website and in discussions with department personnel to do our own calculation. Using what the department calls the "net apportioned estimate" and subtracting out the sport harvest KRSA estimates a spawning population of approximately 11-12,000 fish, well below the minimum escapement level, and an unacceptable outcome.
KRSA sees only two obvious courses of action. These are:
1) Either assure the public that the lower end of the escapement goal range for late-run king salmon will be achieved, then finish the set net fishery according to the management plan; or
2) Close the set net fishery immediately, in an effort to come as close as possible to achieving the king salmon goal.
"At the end of the day, the fish come first. At the expense of kings, the department is going full speed to harvest the tail end of the sockeye run. It is a sad day when we see the department of Fish and Game prioritize greed over conservation. When that happens, it is a wakeup call for anyone who cares about fishery conservation," said Eldon Mulder, KRSA board chair.
Kenai River Sportfishing Association (KRSA) is a 501 (c) 3 charitable non-profit, fishery conservation organization of sport anglers, conservationists and others whose primary goal is to preserve and improve salmon habitat while promoting responsible sportfishing on the Kenai River. Learn more at www.kenairiversportfishing.com.