Comments are due tomorrow, 11/18/2011, for the proposed changes in PWS and Upper Copper/Upper Su finfish, as well as sundry crab, shrimp, shellfish, and cod around the state.
A big hot button topic for the folks around Glenallen and Paxson is the netting of whitefish and incidental lake trout. Everyone with a gun in the fight needs to get their comments in! Especially now that the Department has come out in opposition of any Board generated regulations restricting the fisheries. The Department issued its own proposal, 129, to change sport fish limits because of concerns of unsustainable harvest within the sport fishery. Yet it opposes changes to subsistence regulations citing harvest ticket reports of only a few lake trout harvested incidentally.
On this forum last year was posted a photo of carcasses of dozens of lake trout, possibly more. Presumably from just one set. Permit holders reported a TOTAL harvest of 30 lake trout in Lake Louise, Susitna, and Tyone Lake drainages. The Department of Fish and Game is presenting to the Board this information, and a statement that harvest of Lake Trout in this fishery is minimal. ADF&G is also asking to limit sport fish harvest of larger fish, because the current average yearly take between Louise, Susitna and Tyone is estimated to be about 900 trout- this combined between subsistence, sport, and hook/release mortality of 10%. If the eye witness reports on the "subsistence" fishermen are correct, then they may be catching close to that number just as bycatch to whitefish.
This is a big problem. Fish and Game is concerned about an average harvest of 900 fish, caught mainly by sport fishermen. They state that this is above sustainable levels. Yet they say that current harvest by whitefish netters IS sustainable, as they believe it is only 30 fish. I believe they are wrong. I believe the harvest by subsistence (in name only) users is much higher than reported to fish and game. So if 900 fish is unsustainable, what about 1200 fish? How about 2,000 fish? What will happen to sport fishing in the next 10 years if the netting continues to go unchecked in regulation, as recommended by ADF&G?
(My numbers cited are taken from comments on proposals 57, 129 and 130, and can be found online in meeting information on the department website.) The Department has made its statement to the Board. Concerned anglers need to make theirs. The Board places a lot of weight upon Department positions: but faced with other evidence they can make a decision that opposes the department, or goes along with it- they can only get that other evidence from those who've seen it with their own eyes.
So step up and get the word out! You have till 5pm the 18th to send your comments in, and have them as part of the meeting record.