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Thread: Enhancement . . . ?

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    Default Enhancement . . . ?

    Two candidates currently running for state senate are suggesting enhancement as a remedy for low king salmon runs. According to a Peninsula Clarion article (8/16/12), both candidates "agreed that the king fishery needs to be enhanced."

    Good idea?

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    I've stated on here before. I think Alaska has two decisions. Either rivers need to be enhanced, especially during times of low productivity, or fishing pressure needs to be reduced immensely. If Alaska wants a 24 hour, 7 day a week sportfishery on kings during June and July on the Kenai River, then yes it should be enhanced. If Alaska wants to support natural native populations of fish then fishing pressure in all rivers, especially the Kenai River needs to be reduced. If Alaska wants to support natural native populations of fish then the targeting of big fish and the releasing of smaller fish needs to stop. Enhancement does it's best to take kings from all sizes, during all periods of the run to keep the natural genetic code ongoing and satisfied. What's happening on the Kenai River is an example of heavy fishing pressure over time affecting average size of kings and a shift in run timing.

    If Alaska wants every head of household to have 25 fish and each additional person 10 fish, then enhancement of sockeye and silvers should happen. With dipnetting in southcentral Alaska continually increasing it is very possible in future years on an average return of sockeye to the Kenai River there will be no upper cook inlet commercial fishery, or a very limited one. If Alaska cares about a healthy cook inlet commercial fishery, healthy ecosystems at the river mouths, and bank erosion as more boats run up and down the kenai river in July, then dipnetting pressure needs to be reduced. Either through enhancement on other streams to spread out the fishing pressure, or everyone willing to sacrifice some of "their" fish in order for the greater good.

    The Kasilof River should go back to 200,000 hatchery smolt, because I'm not sure a truly "wild" king still exists in the Kasilof River. It was enhanced too long with too many kings for the "wild" kings to not have eventually bred with, or be descendants of a hatchery released king. If my reading serves me correct the main reason why Kasilof stocking was reduced was to protect native runs of kings in Slikok Creek. Unfortunately those kings have been reduced to near extinction and I'm not sure Slikok Creek will ever be the same.

    There is also several different sources of documentation coming forward that shows before statehood the Kenai River was enhanced with kings from the Columbia River. It's hard to say whether king runs would have been as big as they were in the 80s', 90's, and early 2000's on the Kenai without enhancement before statehood. Without it maybe the king run on the Kenai would be a smaller run of fish, possibly without the large, prized kenai kings.

    Also another interesting aspect to think about. Is all the genetic sampling taken from these winter king fisheries, is it possible the kenai river kings show a genetic code similar to pacific northwest? Where reportedly nearly all the kings in the winter king fisheries come from. Possibly something the state needs to look into a little more.

    The main reason the politicians are for it is they know that king runs affect the kenai peninsula economy immensely. Look no further than this summer for an example. The KP has two main industries. Oil and gas, and fishing. Without those there would probably be half the people than there is now living on the Kenai. I don't know many tourists that would come to Alaska and as they are fighting a king ask if it's raised at a hatchery, and if so then they don't want to keep it. Or if a stream is enhanced then they don't want to fish it. What does affect tourism to the KP is the ability of people to come to Alaska and harvest fish, especially kings. During low productivity king runs can be enhanced so more fish can return, or Alaskans and KP residents can go through 10 more summers like this and possibly more.

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    Take a history lesson from the PNW.... just say NO to hatchery fish!

    The controllable factors are 1) maintaining/conserving productive salmonid habitat and 2) tempering harvest to avoid overexploitation. These are the only two things that matter.

    Take the high road and manage wild stocks responsibly.... WAY cheaper in the long run.
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    Question Why not?

    Quote Originally Posted by 33outdoorsman View Post
    . . If Alaska wants to support natural native populations of fish . .

    . . Kasilof stocking was reduced was to protect native runs of kings . .
    This is an uninformed question, but is there something sacrosanct about native/wild fish?

    We no longer depend on wild cattle or wild sheep or wild hogs or wild fowl or wild game of any sort. Nor do we depend on wild wheat, rye, or corn. All such foodstuffs have been adapted and now outproduce anything ever remotely possible from wild stocks. Why not fish?

    It's increasingly obvious that the ocean's wild stocks are being depleted and are unable to keep pace with human need for food and even with the human demand for recreation.

    In the end, it would seem that enhancement would lower the overall costs of food and recreational needs by increasing efficiency of production.

    . .The controllable factors are 1) maintaining/conserving productive salmonid habitat and 2) tempering harvest to avoid overexploitation. These are the only two things that matter. .
    Explain please . . I don't understand how the above applies to enhanced fisheries' production?

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    If we want to relieve some of the pressure on the Kenai why don't we do more enchancment of the Ship Creek, Bird Creek, Cambell Creek, and Eklutna Tail Race runs? Flooding these creeks with fish - esp. Ship Creek and Eklutna won't mess up anything and would keep quite a number of people closer to home. The way this state wastes money, cost shouldn't be an issue.

    But eventually the question will need to be answered: Which is more important - the sport fishing and personal use opportunites of the majority of Alaskans or the commercial fishing opportunites of far fewer people. The occasional crys of "walls of death" we hear now may become a loud, angry chorus that will eventually force a change.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tvfinak
    Which is more important - the sport fishing and personal use opportunites of the majority of Alaskans or the commercial fishing opportunites of far fewer people. The occasional crys of "walls of death" we hear now may become a loud, angry chorus that will eventually force a change.
    OMG. Here we go AGAIN !!

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    I know this is another KP thread but enhancement may not be the answer. A majority of the available king salmon runs in SE Alaska are hatchery fish. This year, just like the rest of Alaska, our returns were crap. When I was a kid we used to see returns of kings to Crystal Lake hatchery in the 10,000 - 15,000 fish range. Last year was less than 1000 fish, and this year was about 1500 fish. DIPAC in Juneau had similar fate with it's hatchery Kings. Medevije hatchery kings in Sitka were way down as well. The Taku, Stikine, and Situk River wild run kings were all reduced this year.

    I know everyone wants to point a finger, it's the commercial guy's fault, it's the charter guy's fault, it's ADF&G's fault..... My guess is that these poor returns go well beyond Cook Inlet, and well beyond any user group. There's something going on while these fish are growing up that is corresponding to p!ss poor returns across the board. The answer shouldn't be to throw more salmon at the problem to see if we can make it work. We need to figure out the problem first.
    I'd agree with you, but then we'd both be wrong.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AKBoater View Post
    . . these poor returns go well beyond Cook Inlet, and well beyond any user group. There's something going on while these fish are growing up that is corresponding to p!ss poor returns across the board. The answer shouldn't be to throw more salmon at the problem to see if we can make it work. We need to figure out the problem first.
    Very good point . . thanks . .

    That said and given that we eventually get a handle on the larger problem, the rest of your posts sounds like enhancement is a proven and viable alternative to keep in mind.

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    Negative side of anything in that post - where?

    I'm just stating the obvious. We may need to use the subject enchancement in the Kenai and/or make changes in allocation and useage as someone suggested will happen - but change is on the way whether we like it or not. Ignoring it won't make it go away.


    Quote Originally Posted by Sockeye2em View Post
    OMG. Here we go AGAIN !!

    "...to expose the negative side of commercial fishing". - tvfinak


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    Quote Originally Posted by 33outdoorsman View Post
    There is also several different sources of documentation coming forward that shows before statehood the Kenai River was enhanced with kings from the Columbia River.
    This is incorrect. There is no documentation of stocking king salmon from the Columbia River into the Kenai River . The closest Washington state king salmon came to being stocked in the Kenai River was a stocking that took place in Grouse Lake near Seward.

    Quote Originally Posted by 33outdoorsman View Post
    Also another interesting aspect to think about. Is all the genetic sampling taken from these winter king fisheries, is it possible the kenai river kings show a genetic code similar to pacific northwest? Where reportedly nearly all the kings in the winter king fisheries come from. Possibly something the state needs to look into a little more.
    Genetic information shows Kenai River king salmon being clearly distinct from Pacific Northwest king salmon stocks.

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    I am not generally in favor of "enhancement", because I don't believe we are generally smart enough or honest enough to do it correctly. Here's what I mean:

    A few years ago I visited a booth at the Great Alaska Sportsman Show (GASS), which was put on by an organization then known as the "Prince William Aquaculture Association". They were attempting to rally support among the sport fishing community for a virtual constellation of "enhancement" hatcheries in Prince William Sound which would result in the placement of millions of additional salmon in the sound. Their pitch was that by anglers supporting these hatcheries, anglers would see huge additional opportunities to catch these fish. What's not to like about that? Well, aside from the fact that most or all of the hatcheries were located just above tidewater (meaning that river anglers would see very limited opportunities), there was the question of the impact these millions of fish may or may not have on wild stocks. So I asked the guy at the booth whether any studies had been done on the potential impact. He paused, rubbed his chin, and said (and I quote), "Wellll.... the ocean's a reeeally big place..." I interrupted and said, "In other words, 'No'". That was the end of the conversation. So I walked away with the impression that they were just planning to dump all these fish into the ecosystem and take their chances.

    Later I discovered that the entire organization was operated by commercial fishermen. Now, I'm not bashing the commercial guys; far from it. We need all of us in this, and we need to come up with solutions that hopefully meet the needs of all groups. But when I realized that these folks were really not interested in increased recreational opportunities (as they said), I had questions about their honesty. Were they only at the GASS to get our buy-in?

    Enhancement has an impact on all user groups; sport anglers, subsistence / personal use anglers, and commercial anglers. It also has an indirect impact on the entire ecosystem, from the spawning grounds all the way to Japan's coastal waters and beyond (wherever those fish go). This even includes the vegetation in our riparian zones, where fish waste is deposited by animals and gets into the soil. It's really complex, and I am not convinced that we have enough information to make intelligent decisions. And I'm not convinced that any of those groups will remain neutral in their handling of whatever information we do get.

    Finally, I do believe that we should generally try to preserve wild stocks whenever possible. It's just a personal thing I know, but it seems wrong somehow to replace our wild fish with hatchery fish. Yes, we farm carrots, potatoes, and other stuff that used to grow in the wild (and probably still do), but I don't believe we have the resources to figure out how we can do this properly, much less whether we should at all. That leaves us with having to work with what we have, by ensuring that all user groups are acting responsibly without abusing the resource. Defining what constitutes "abuse", "acting responsibly" and so on is up to us to argue about and (hopefully) resolve. As I see it, humans are the only ones on the planet capable of caring for this earth on any larger scale. It's incumbent upon us to do it properly.

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    Mike,

    The tough situation when dealing with hatcheries operated by regional aquaculture associations is that they ARE funded mostly by commercial fishermen. Places like NSRAA, SSRAA, and PWSAA recieve a bulk of their operational costs from a tax paid by commercial guys, and cost recovery fisheries. I can appreciate what they do, but that also mean that they raise mostly pinks and chums. For a very good reason.

    Pinks and Chums can be mass produced, you spawn them one summer and release them the following spring. They return a few years later. Cheap and easy. But they can make a lot of them, commercial guys can catch a lot of them, everyone makes money. When you dive into hatchery costs for species like Kings, Cohos, and Sockeye the cost increases exponentially. Because of their complex life history, you have to rear the more attractive sport fish for an additional year prior to release, which means you need twice as much space, since at any given time you have two years worth of fish at the hatchery, you need to feed them for 12 months longer than pinks and chums so the food budget goes up, and you have to pay people to babysit them for longer so staff costs go up.

    I guess the point of my rant above is to say that it makes perfect sense for hatcheries to cater to commercial interests, they're the folks that are footing that particular bill. In all reality the only reason that hatcheries bother with kings, cohos, and sockeye tends to be that the state passes them enhancement dollars to do just that. Because from a business perspective they are a resource and money drain.
    I'd agree with you, but then we'd both be wrong.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AKBoater View Post
    Mike,

    The tough situation when dealing with hatcheries operated by regional aquaculture associations is that they ARE funded mostly by commercial fishermen. Places like NSRAA, SSRAA, and PWSAA recieve a bulk of their operational costs from a tax paid by commercial guys, and cost recovery fisheries. I can appreciate what they do, but that also mean that they raise mostly pinks and chums. For a very good reason.

    Pinks and Chums can be mass produced, you spawn them one summer and release them the following spring. They return a few years later. Cheap and easy. But they can make a lot of them, commercial guys can catch a lot of them, everyone makes money. When you dive into hatchery costs for species like Kings, Cohos, and Sockeye the cost increases exponentially. Because of their complex life history, you have to rear the more attractive sport fish for an additional year prior to release, which means you need twice as much space, since at any given time you have two years worth of fish at the hatchery, you need to feed them for 12 months longer than pinks and chums so the food budget goes up, and you have to pay people to babysit them for longer so staff costs go up.

    I guess the point of my rant above is to say that it makes perfect sense for hatcheries to cater to commercial interests, they're the folks that are footing that particular bill. In all reality the only reason that hatcheries bother with kings, cohos, and sockeye tends to be that the state passes them enhancement dollars to do just that. Because from a business perspective they are a resource and money drain.
    I appreciate the perspective and I in no way want to attack the commercial fishery for doing what it needs to do to survive (and thrive) in the international economy. My point, however, is that we have to consider all these groups, and especially the overall health of the resource, before we can decide whether enhancement is a good idea.

    To address the reason the OP gives for enhancement, the low return of king salmon in parts of Alaska, we have to find the root causes of the reduced runs before we'll really have an idea of how to fix the problem. Several causes have been postulated, and some seem to have more weight than others. I think the bycatch issue is huge, as is the possibility of illegal fishing by other countries, together with environmental factors. It's really complicated.

    On the other hand, we have to keep cool heads and be willing to listen to each other. The truth may be hard to find, but it's out there. I believe most of us want to find it and solve this thing. I fear, however, that in the absence of solid data, we will take the relatively easy road of simply dumping more seed corn in the field without discovering (or even looking for) the cause of the blight. How much of this can our environment take before we figure it out? Our grandfathers opted for obvious solutions to energy needs in the Pacific Northwest and they killed our salmon runs in the process. Now they're actually backpacking salmon carcasses up into mountain tributaries just in an attempt to restore the ecosystem to its former "balance" (whatever that was). Will we repeat their mistakes, or will we back off long enough to really figure it out, and then act? Time will tell.

    -Mike
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Strahan View Post
    On the other hand, we have to keep cool heads and be willing to listen to each other. The truth may be hard to find, but it's out there. I believe most of us want to find it and solve this thing. I fear, however, that in the absence of solid data, we will take the relatively easy road of simply dumping more seed corn in the field without discovering (or even looking for) the cause of the blight. How much of this can our environment take before we figure it out? Our grandfathers opted for obvious solutions to energy needs in the Pacific Northwest and they killed our salmon runs in the process. Now they're actually backpacking salmon carcasses up into mountain tributaries just in an attempt to restore the ecosystem to its former "balance" (whatever that was). Will we repeat their mistakes, or will we back off long enough to really figure it out, and then act? Time will tell.

    -Mike
    I couldn't agree more with that statement. But at the same time, I'd like to know who is going to pay for it? From what I explained before, raising kings is expensive. If a Kenai enhancement project ever gets serious consideration that money has to come from somewhere. I know I'm a southeast guy and never fish the Kenai, but will the legislature decide that enhancing the Kenai is a better way to spend money than enhancing the king salmon runs around SE?

    I think we both concur that we need to identify the problem before we postulate solutions.
    I'd agree with you, but then we'd both be wrong.

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    The answer depends on what you're enhancing. Enhancement through the use of hatcheries just enhances the fishery. More people can catch more fish. However, the biological productivity of the watershed and the ecosystem don't change. Conversely, enhancing the biological productivity of the habitat can enhance both the reproductive capacity of the fish and with it, the ability of the fishery to support additional harvest. So, in my view, if anything should be enhanced, it should be the habitat.

    Now, I agree this is considerably easier said than done. Much of the fish habitat in the Great Land is in very good shape. The opportunities for fisheries habitat enhancement are probably restricted to the Mat-Su Valley and the Kenai Pen. And, enhancing the habitat is not a quick fix. It takes alot of time and energy and commitment to enhance the habitat. Ditto for conserving the habitat that is already productive. So if we want a quick fix, this ain't it. Hatcheries are a quick fix, but the long-term consequences are a huge problem. The problems are both with the hatchery products (lots of genetically similar fish) and with the fishery (large rates of harvest) as we've debated on this BB, and others, for years.

    So my answer would be to conserve, restore, and enhance the fisheries habitat wherever we can, and restrict harvest to nothing more than what the stocks can support. Hatcheries should not be part of the solution. Not now, and probably not ever.

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    Question

    1) I am not generally in favor of "enhancement", because I don't believe we are generally smart enough or honest enough to do it correctly. . .

    2) . . there was the question of the impact these millions of fish may or may not have on wild stocks. . .

    3) Later I discovered that the entire organization was operated by commercial fishermen. . .

    4) . . I am not convinced that we have enough information to make intelligent decisions. . .

    5) . . I do believe that we should generally try to preserve wild stocks whenever possible. . . it seems wrong somehow to replace our wild fish with hatchery fish. . .
    Some points for thought and discussion:

    1, 2, 4: Faint heart never won fair lady. What if we'd applied that kind of fearful hesitation to our uses of the earth's land masses? And if we don't know enough, how are we to learn except to try? Are we to forego use of the world's oceans out of trepidation? Aquaculture, limited as it is, has shown tremendous potential toward supplying the world's food needs.

    3) It is erroneous to think of commercial fishermen as a user group. They are not any more than is a commercial farmer and harvester of corn in Iowa. Commercial fishermen are an intermediary group. Human food needs are the end consumer, and commercial whatever are simply a means unto an end.

    5) But why? Why beyond some romantic notion of primitive, undisturbed Eden?

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    To me "enhancing" a fishery is done for only three reasons. To create a fishery that is not there ie China Poot. You are simply farming salmon. Another is because of mismanagement and over fishing by one group or another. The other is habitat distruction. To me enhacing the runs treats the symptons not the cause. For example. You have a bad cough so you go to the store and start washing down cough medicine by the bottle. You just treated the symptom. Or you could go to the clinic and find out you have a lung infection and need antibiotics. You just treated the cause and have a real cure. Stocking fish is just treating a symptom so many times and it really just keeps us from having to face the real problem of habitat destruction or over fishing. Start stocking fish and you will have to do it forever in most cases. Fix the last two and you fix the problem long term.

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    Thumbs up

    To me "enhancing" a fishery is done for only three reasons :

    1) To create a fishery that is not there ie China Poot. You are simply farming salmon.

    2) Another is because of mismanagement and over fishing by one group or another.

    3)The other is habitat distruction.

    To me enhacing the runs treats the symptons not the cause. For example. You have a bad cough so you go to the store and start washing down cough medicine by the bottle. You just treated the symptom. Or you could go to the clinic and find out you have a lung infection and need antibiotics. You just treated the cause and have a real cure. Stocking fish is just treating a symptom so many times and it really just keeps us from having to face the real problem of habitat destruction or over fishing. Start stocking fish and you will have to do it forever in most cases. Fix the last two and you fix the problem long term.
    +1 . . .

    While I much agree with your points 2 and 3, I fail to see the flaw in point #1—such aquaculture is essentially free-range, salmon farming, and as such it shows huge promise in supplying the world's ever increasing demand for animal protein.

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    Marcus
    I should have carified pt 1.
    I have no problem with smart farming ie China Poot. I think if its profitable and its not going to interfere with the ecosystem then go for it! The reason i say profitable is if its not then its just another hand out.

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