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Thread: A do or die moment...

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    Member fishNphysician's Avatar
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    Default A do or die moment...

    The other Kenai king thread was getting a bit long and convoluted, so I thought I'd start another on the eve of what will be the most crucial decision-making point of the entire season. Here's a discussion worthy of posting:

    By July 13, typically 25 percent of the final return of the late-run Kenai River king salmon has entered the river. At this point of the return, what does the in-season assessment tell us? How will the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG) react to evaluation of the data? What will be the justification for ADFG’s potential management actions?
    On July 8 ADFG justified restricting the sportfishery to catch and release beginning July 10 with the following statement:

    "To date all indices used to assess the late-run are very low, well below average, and are currently projected to be well under the inseason management objectives at the end of the run in early August. All of this information used in combination indicates the 2012 run is smaller than the 2011 run and may be the lowest on record."

    When summarizing the situation on the web update provided July 10, ADFG stated:

    "The department is continuing to examine further in-season restrictive actions in a step-down manner to administer during the remainder of July to ensure adequate escapement of Kenai River king salmon. The next step is to close the Kenai River to king salmon fishing and could be announced as soon as Friday, July 13."

    On July 11 an Emergency Order issued by ADFG closed a regular period in the commercial set net fishery that was justified by the following statement:

    "As of July 11, all indices used to assess in-river abundance of Kenai River king salmon indicate a run that is well below average. In-season projections show all indices will not achieve their respective minimum in-season management objective. Closing the regularly scheduled fishing period for set gillnets in the Upper Subdistrict on Thursday, July 12 is intended to pass king salmon into the Kenai River."

    ADFG salmon fishery managers in Upper Cook Inlet (UCI) typically like to assess the first 25 percent of a return of salmon, particularly king salmon, before making management calls that dramatically affect the fishery. With the low numbers of king salmon returning throughout UCI and much of the state this year, ADFG sportfish managers took the unprecedented step of prohibiting the use of bait in the Kenai and Kasilof rivers prior to the start of the late-run of July kings.

    The ADFG quotes posted above summarize the assessment of run strength gathered from ADFG indices as the 2012 return has presented itself on the beaches of UCI and in the Kenai River.
    We now find ourselves at that 25 percent point in the 2012 return and undoubtedly ADFG finds itself facing a number of very tough choices. Five factors that will receive significant consideration by ADFG are:

    1. The abundance of late-run Kenai River king salmon as observed in ADFG’s four assessment tools;
    2. The utility of catch and release as a management tool for the king salmon sportfishery;
    3. The effectiveness of the UCI drift gillnet fleet utilizing additional fishing time in the new expanded corridor that concentrates harvests on Kenai and Kasilof sockeye;
    4. The abundance of sockeye salmon along the beaches and in the Kenai and Kasilof rivers; and
    5. The harvest potential of a liberalized personal use dipnet fishery and in-river sport fishery for sockeye salmon.


    Based on the in-season data and assessment of this data provided by ADFG the remainder of the 2012 season could go down one or more of three paths. These are:

    1) Total closure of both the inriver sportfishery and much or all of the commercial set net fishery for the remainder of the late-run Kenai River king salmon return.


    2) Keeping the inriver sportfishery restricted to catch and release for a few more days in an effort to make sure that we are not experiencing very late timing of a run that is, in fact, much larger than currently anticipated. Under this scenario we could expect to see some level of commercial set net fishing while additional data is collected. Under this scenario after a few more days, not more than a week, enough data would be collected to make a definitive decision to either close both the sport and commercial set net fisheries or allow the fisheries to continue because ADFG anticipates meeting the minimum escapement objective for Kenai River king salmon.


    3) ADFG may conclude that achieving the minimum escapement objective for late-run Kenai River king salmon will most likely not be achieved but that too much economic value is at stake to implement a total closure of the sport and commercial set net fisheries. Under this scenario ADFG would continue to allow catch and release in the river while authorizing some level of commercial set net fishing. In making this call ADFG would be clearly operating outside of compliance with the Late-run Kenai River King Salmon Management Plan which calls for total closure of both fisheries when minimum escapement will not be achieved.


    However, there are valid arguments that can be made for this potential course of action. Mortality in a catch and release fishery in the Kenai River for the remainder of the 2012 season will likely be in the range of 100-200 fish. Biologists consider a small number like this to have a de minimus or negligible effect on the sustainability of the run. Under the current management plan, catch and release can only be implemented to buy time early in the season to allow for additional data to be collected or to slow the harvest in the sport fishery so that the minimum escapement objective can be achieved.


    A scenario that envisions the use of catch and release fishing while not being able to project meeting the minimum escapement goal would be a new justification for catch and release of king salmon in the Kenai River. Likewise, if the number of late-run king salmon killed by commercial fishermen can be held to a similar small number while the economic value of the sockeye harvest can be realized then sustainability can still be the goal.


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    Sustainability outside the mgt plan? Really?


    To me it all boils down to weak stock management. A conservation concern has been raised for Kenai chinook. All indicators thus far point to a dismal run that will NOT make the escapement objective.... perhaps a management failure that may still occur even with total closure of the river to chinook fishing. Yeah, it's THAT bad! Only a Hail Mary pulse of late fish can change the trajectory of the escapement projection. Given the pattern of chinook run failures statewide, there's little hope for that occurrence.

    Since releasing the last Kenai update that resulted in the river going to C&R for chinook, the beach nets have been sitting idle. In fact, apart from two 1/2 day Kasilof openers in the first week in July, there has been no setnetting on Kenai kings. Keeping those setnets high and dry this past Monday and today certainly saved some kings for escapement, but if ADFG was looking to see any indication of a stronger king run by tomorrow, they just lost the only meaningful data points that could have given any shred of credence that the king run has any steam in it at all. Sure the inriver fishery CPUE has picked up a bit.... fueled largely by better viz and ideal tides the past few days.... but it's tough to put a lot of weight on that given the small number of boats still fishing.

    So really, NOTHING has really changed to say this run is any better off since the July 8 assessment. Days later, the conservation concern continues to persist. It begs the question, "What is the appropriate course of action tomorrow afternoon?"

    From a biological perspective it pits underescaping kings against overescaping reds. Historically, the urgency to maximally fish the strong stock at the expense of the weak stock has been the undeniable legacy of the commercial salmon fishing industry. For me personally, the risk of underescaping a weak stock should trump the risk of overescaping a strong stock. But hey, that's just me.

    Then there's the social perpsective. What's really at stake here is the ESSN's and just how sacred managers deem that cash cow to be. The in-river guiding/hospitality industry has also suffered. It's been socially disruptive, and the economic hardship to those folks can't be denied. Closure takes away any hope of salvaging an off year. But we need to consider the conservation implications of allowing both fisheries to operate if we forego the closure option.

    It's clear that from an in-river perspective, the difference between closure and C&R for the remainder of the season is 100-200 kings. As much as we'd like to think every king counts, from a savings perspective, that number is pretty dam inconsequential. The later a decision is made to go to closure, the more inconsequential the in-river savings become. Bottom line, if we don't close the in-river fishery now, there really is no point in closing it at all.

    On the flip side, the difference of opening/closing in the setnet fishery is HUGE. Each day of setnetting in July would kill hundreds of kings, overshadowing the in-river savings for the entire season. Given the magnitude of the conservation shortfall, why take that risk?

    If the available data on July 8 said we aren't gonna make goal, there really is no new data to show that we will. That potential data point was squandered today. Bottom line, if managers are confident enough to project that the chinook goal will not be met, the mgt plan directs ADFG to close the fishery.... which really only leaves one responsible course of action.

    Follow the plan.
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    Default Fish or cut bait....

    Quote Originally Posted by fishNphysician View Post
    So really, NOTHING has really changed to say this run is any better off since the July 8 assessment. Days later, the conservation concern continues to persist. It begs the question, "What is the appropriate course of action tomorrow afternoon?"

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    If the available data on July 8 said we aren't gonna make goal, there really is no new data to show that we will.
    Too late to edit.... but for correctness, that should really be July 6.

    July 6 was the latest actual data used to arrive at the C&R EO announced on July 8.

    So really it's been almost another week of wait and see.
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    I am afraid I'm confused as to your ultimate wish here...........are you saying shut down the setnets, evaluate the driftnet fishing, and stop any and all inriver fishing for chinooks for the Kenai? Or are you saying still allow C & R for Chinook?

    I think with the data available that I can see, (I have a feeling we are 21 days late on salmon returns statewide more or less. ((21 is just a number though say 2 in a half weeks). BUT I say shut it all down for all user groups. Right NOW. It is the only reasonable approach. If more Kings arrive, then allow fishing as the plans permit. We should err on the side of caution.

    To allow any one user group to continue fishing RIGHT NOW is counterproductive to the success of the Chinook run in the Kenai.

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    and sharpen your hooks and losen the poles for 4 million reds and expanded limits to try to stop the flood.

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    My feeling is, the setnetters will be in the water once the reds show up. Until the reds show up in good numbers, ADFG is doing the right thing by keeping the ESSN out of the water. But, I can already hear the whining coming from the sport guys once the setnetters are in the water, even though they are fishing right now and the setnetters are not.
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    Its sad to see this going on as there are no winners here except maybe the in river sockeye dipnetters and anglers. I feel for the set netters, I feel for the guides and that industry. NO DOUBT they should shut down the entire king fishery. why kill a few hundred fish while you are totally shutting down the set netters. That is not right. If they are serious about protecting the kings they would pull the plug on all king fishing in the river. C&R is a joke. Yes the king may live but it starts to die when it hits fresh water and getting caught drains life from the fish that will not come back but only beat it up so though it may live its not of much use on the gravel.

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    Premium Member kasilofchrisn's Avatar
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    100-200 kings dying from C&R on a year like this is far from inconsequential it's big. Every fish counts this year and the river needs to close to all king fishing period.
    The only exception would be in the unlikely scenaior a big push of kings arrives late.
    Letting the rod and reel guys go crazy on the reds is not a good solution imho either. I would think many locals such as myself would quit fishing once we had what we needed. So if they made it 12 fish a day I still wouldn't catch more than I needed. I am not going to catch some fish just to throw them away in the future or can them up and keep them forever or use them for dog food.
    If the reds so go gangbusters this year I think we need to proceed with caution to prevent a lot of abuse of the system.
    We already know there are those who sell these fish illegally. They catch a few of them every year. I couldn't imagine the maddness if the upped the limits to some crazy amount like 8,10,12 a day or more on rod/reel.
    How many people would catch 12 a day during their one week vacation just because thats the limit whether they could actually eat them all or not? I would guess a lot of people would.
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    You are right Chris EVERY king is vitaly important!

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    Quote Originally Posted by kasilofchrisn View Post
    100-200 kings dying from C&R on a year like this is far from inconsequential it's big. Every fish counts this year and the river needs to close to all king fishing period.
    The only exception would be in the unlikely scenaior a big push of kings arrives late.
    Letting the rod and reel guys go crazy on the reds is not a good solution imho either. I would think many locals such as myself would quit fishing once we had what we needed. So if they made it 12 fish a day I still wouldn't catch more than I needed. I am not going to catch some fish just to throw them away in the future or can them up and keep them forever or use them for dog food.
    If the reds so go gangbusters this year I think we need to proceed with caution to prevent a lot of abuse of the system.
    We already know there are those who sell these fish illegally. They catch a few of them every year. I couldn't imagine the maddness if the upped the limits to some crazy amount like 8,10,12 a day or more on rod/reel.
    How many people would catch 12 a day during their one week vacation just because thats the limit whether they could actually eat them all or not? I would guess a lot of people would.
    Exactly, i ran into much of this up north here also... many folks feel that MY 1, wont make a bit of difference... but there ONE, combined with the other 7000-10,000 anglers with the same mentality does...

    quite simple, until one of the user groups takes it upon themself to restrict them self and just say we wont fish... none of the others will either. It is just the natural greed of people to be that way...
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    Thumbs down Here we go again . . . ad nauseam . . .

    Quote Originally Posted by fishNphysician View Post
    . . it pits underescaping kings against overescaping reds. . . For me personally, the risk of underescaping a weak stock should trump the risk of overescaping a strong stock. But hey, that's just me.

    . . What's really at stake here is the ESSN's and just how sacred managers deem that cash cow to be. . .
    Well, Doc, you could have spared us all the excess and ponderous verbiage and cut to the chase as above. Nothing new here . . same ol', same ol' obsession with big Kenai kings at the expense of all other considerations.

    And what's with the accusation that maximizing harvest of the stronger stock of a mixed-stock fishery is "the undeniable legacy of the commercial" fishing industry? Sounds more like the legacy of sound, economic policy to me. And by the "commercial" fishing industry, you of course mean Cook Inlet's gill-net industry and not the commercial sport-fishing industry? Right?

    Nor is your labeling the ESSNs a "cash cow" helpful to the discussion beyond illustrating your bias—again and again ad nauseam.

    Extraordinary situations require extraordinary decisions. What's clear to me is that our managers will do their jobs in spite of your incessant whining, griping, accusations, and arm-chair quarterbacking.


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    Quote Originally Posted by kasilofchrisn View Post
    100-200 kings dying from C&R on a year like this is far from inconsequential it's big.

    If the reds so go gangbusters this year I think we need to proceed with caution to prevent a lot of abuse of the system. . .
    Well said. +1

    You gotta wonder why hundreds of kings killed by c&r is inconsequential while hundreds of kings killed by nets is calamitous . . amazing what special-interest logic can swallow.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hoose35 View Post
    My feeling is, the setnetters will be in the water once the reds show up. Until the reds show up in good numbers, ADFG is doing the right thing by keeping the ESSN out of the water. But, I can already hear the whining coming from the sport guys once the setnetters are in the water, even though they are fishing right now and the setnetters are not.
    You got that right . . . whining, whining, and more whining.

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    Premium Member kasilofchrisn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vince View Post
    Exactly, i ran into much of this up north here also... many folks feel that MY 1, wont make a bit of difference... but there ONE, combined with the other 7000-10,000 anglers with the same mentality does...

    quite simple, until one of the user groups takes it upon themself to restrict them self and just say we wont fish... none of the others will either. It is just the natural greed of people to be that way...
    Exactly Vince! I have heard that saying many times also. "It is only one fish" or " I drove thousands of miles and spent thousands of dollars I should be allowed to get some fish for that"
    They all want theirs whether the actually will use the fish themselves or not.
    And 1 fish each times a thousand( or 5 or 10 thousand) fisherman still equals a thousand fish not just the one I may have put in my freezer.
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    While I know some of the guides make a living by guiding so do some of the ESSN's. Although I am sure most have been forced to find other employment for a good portion of their income as should the river guides if they are smart.
    While I don't know Travis Every who's picture was posted on here about the king salmon rally I do know his father real well.
    I can say Travis is at least a third generation commercial fisherman. I would bet good money his family has been fishing this inlet long before 95% of the guides out there or their families.
    I can also tell you between him and his dad they have a significant amount of time and a large amount of money tied up in their fish sites. I know for a fact their combined expenses just to prepare for THIS YEARS setnet season is more than a lot of people make in a year.That is money that has already been spent.
    I understand their fight and their frustration.
    Travis's dad Chris Every told me something that will stick with me forever though.
    He said we need to put politics aside and quit bickering. We need to put the fish first and foremost and forget about the user groups. We need to manage the fish for the benefit of the fish not for the guides association or anybody else including himself and his setnet site.
    I have yet to hear a guide make such a statement.
    He also told me they should let him fish or just buy him out so he can hang up his nets for good.
    I know I would get tired of putting up a lot of money every season and invest most of my free time only to get shut down like they have this year.
    If people like FNP want the ESSN's closed down they should start a fund and buy them out and then voluntarily not fish them.
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    Default HOT off the press....

    King salmon troll fishery closed to retention for the rest of the season to conserve Kenai kings....

    This emergency order prohibits the retention of king salmon while sport fishing within one mile of shore in the salt waters of Cook Inlet south of the latitude of the mouth of the Ninilchik River to the latitude of Bluff Point beginning 12:01 a.m., Monday, July 16, 2012, through 11:59 p.m., Tuesday, July 31, 2012. Catch-and-release fishing for king salmon is allowed, but king salmon may not be retained or possessed. King salmon that are caught may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately.

    King salmon stocks in Cook Inlet and throughout Alaska are experiencing a period of low productivity and low run strength. The department’s information, including data from inriver assessment programs, indicates that the Kenai River late-run is also experiencing low strength. As of July 12, all indices used to assess inriver abundance indicate a run that is well below average and are currently projected to be well under their respective inseason management objective by the end of the run in early August. The Kenai inriver sport fishery is currently restricted to catch-and-release/trophy fishing in an effort to ensure adequate escapement of Kenai River late-run king salmon. Therefore, it is justified to prohibit
    retention of king salmon in salt waters within one mile of shore while Kenai River late-run king salmon migrate through the area and into fresh water.


    Nothing official on any further regulatory action in-river.... yet.
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    Default Punt....

    til the 19th.

    Looks like they're gonna wait til the mid-point of the run to make the call.

    The department is continuing to examine further inseason restrictive actions in a step-down manner to administer during the remainder of July. Over 25% of the run is completed at this time. Without a significant improvement in run strength that indicates the in-season management objectives will be achieved for the late-run of king salmon, the department will close the inriver king salmon sport fishery when approximately 50% of the run is completed on July 19.
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    im just on chill,... got my 30 reds out da copper river last weekend and now im gonna work on my 15 foot fiberglass bassboat style boat with a old school 50 hp merc prop motor which i ran aground near the chitna bridge,...also gettin the gear ready for hunting season it would be nice to twang a nice bull this year with the bow..... anyone have any advice on access to klutina lake ive been meaning to get out there some day and see whats good. also what kinda trout fishing opportunities reside in that lake? is it possible to get my 12 foot zodiak in the klutina river road pulled behind my 4 by 4 jeep commanche?..... or maybe a canoe roped to the top

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    that is a very respectable king bro,.. it looks like you got it figured out,... props

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    KasilofC - I presume you see the double speak in your quote from Mr. Every:

    "Travis's dad Chris Every told me something that will stick with me forever though.
    He said we need to put politics aside and quit bickering. We need to put the fish first and foremost and forget about the user groups. We need to manage the fish for the benefit of the fish not for the guides association or anybody else including himself and his setnet site.
    I have yet to hear a guide make such a statement.
    He also told me they should let him fish or just buy him out so he can hang up his nets for good.
    I know I would get tired of putting up a lot of money every season and invest most of my free time only to get shut down like they have this year.
    If people like FNP want the ESSN's closed down they should start a fund and buy them out and then voluntarily not fish them."

    Seems to me, Mr. Every is saying that ADF&G (or whoever) should take whatever measures are necessary to protect the fish, but if those conservation efforts affect him (Mr. Every), then he wants someone to pay him for it. Or, in other words, Mr. Every's economic needs come first, not the fish.

    With that attitude, you can see why there is so much bickering.
    Last edited by Cohoangler; 07-16-2012 at 07:23. Reason: typo

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cohoangler View Post
    KasilofC - I presume you see the double speak in your quote from Mr. Every:

    "Travis's dad Chris Every told me something that will stick with me forever though.
    He said we need to put politics aside and quit bickering. We need to put the fish first and foremost and forget about the user groups. We need to manage the fish for the benefit of the fish not for the guides association or anybody else including himself and his setnet site.
    I have yet to hear a guide make such a statement.
    He also told me they should let him fish or just buy him out so he can hang up his nets for good.
    I know I would get tired of putting up a lot of money every season and invest most of my free time only to get shut down like they have this year.
    If people like FNP want the ESSN's closed down they should start a fund and buy them out and then voluntarily not fish them."

    Seems to me, Mr. Every is saying that ADF&G (or whoever) should take whatever measures are necessary to protect the fish, but if those conservation efforts affect him (Mr. Every), then he wants someone to pay him for it. Or, in other words, Mr. Every's economic needs come first, not the fish.

    With that attitude, you can see why there is so much bickering.
    Not at all what he meant.
    He does want what's best for the fish. If he goes without fishing his nets long enough or successive years where he doesn't get to fish enough to make a profit should he just abandon his sites?
    The fish are there for him to catch. There are plenty of reds available. The managemnet plan adopted my ADF&G has him closed down more than is neccessary for reds fishing to protect the kings.
    He has a permit issued to him by the state of Alaska. Now the state puts in a policy or management plan that shuts him down.
    So he used to be able to start fishing at the end of June. He used to be able to fish into August.
    Now he might not fish until mid July and close at July's end since his nets are north of the blanchard line.
    If the states recent management plan basically shuts him down should the state ( or any group who wants him shut down to protect kings)not buy out his permit ?
    I guess I see these as two seperate issues.

    One is the management plan that is not allowing him to fish his nets for the benefit of the kings even when the target species (reds) are in abundance. That is something that is for the benefit of the fish.
    That is something that is there for the maximum benefit of the fish namely kings. This is a fisheries management issue.

    The other is the fact that he bought a permit issued by the state of Alaska in good faith that That no longer holds the financial value it once did due to actions taken by the state of Alaska that are beyond his control. This is a financial issue.

    When the state takes your land to build a road do they not pay you for it? Do you not expect to be compensated when they take something of yours in that manner?
    You know it is for the benefit of the entire community and will make a safer place to drive and yet you don't donate your land to the state to eliminate the hazzardous corner (or whatever the excuse is to take your land via Eminent domain).
    So my take on what he said to me is that we should do whats best for the fish regardless of the consequences.
    But if ADF&G feels these newer management plans that shut down ESSN's are warranted they should buy back the permit he bought from them in good faith that they would allow him to fish under that permit and make a financial profit.

    So do whats right for the fish and to have a healthy enviroment and in the process buy back the permits you sold to him as a part of that. The fish come first the management plan is in place he has been shut down for the most part.
    If the management plan is to continue on this tract a secondary action is to buy back what the state sold him as a viable venture that may no longer be just that.
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