BOF work session Oct 9-11
Quite a few ACRs to be taken up. I haven't read dept comments on all of them yet, but I did finish the comments on ACR 11, and it really is nothing less than expected. The BOF stated specifically in its last meeting that they wanted to reduce catch of ND coho by central district commercial fishermen. They adopted new corridors with this being the stated objective. The corridors did not reduce the numbers of coho caught by central drift, and as a result Little Su and all East side coho fisheries were closed to coho fishing. Little Su still did not meet its minimum objective. The unforeseen impact of the regulatory changes adopted by the BOF? It had little to no impact on the overharvest of ND bound coho salmon; therefore the agenda change request should be reviewed.
This is not department's position, though. Their position is that "we fished it just as required, met the restrictions as required, so no further action is needed."
No comment on why Little Su couldn't even make escapements, now in 4 years straight, and why the changed regulations didn't help at all, and perhaps even caused more impact to the run Just more stonewalling by the Dept. The Department refuses to work with the Board on ways to reduce harvest of Northern District Bound coho.
It is extremely frustrating to go to meeting after meeting and see no recommendations from the Commercial division of Fish and Game on how to effectively manage the drift fleet in such a way that they will still be able to harvest much of the available sockeye stock without overharvesting ND stocks of both coho and sockeye. There is a strong sense coming from the Division, even with its new manager, that no matter what the Board puts in place, the Division will harvest as many Kenai and Kasilof sockeye as they are possibly allowed by the regulations, and all other stocks will just have to survive as well as they may.
willphish- What is the minimum escapement goal for coho in the little Su? And what was the counted escapement?
Well, that would be fine and dandy willphish4food...if you knew how many Northern District coho were caught by the Central District drifters, what systems those Coho were headed to, or even if the ND systems produced enough returners in the first place. But you don't. Nobody does. So blaming the Central District drifters for the Little Su's low returns and closures, and saying the new corridor restrictions had no impact, is a WAG...nothing more than speculation that scapegoats the commercial fishery.
There could be many reasons for the low returns in the ND, especially when we know for a fact, based on recent studies, that the ND has its own production problems. Again, we don't even know if the ND is producing all these coho you say are being intercepted by the Central District.
It should be no surprise that the Department refuses to manage the fishery based on the type of conjecture you've concocted here. That would be a disaster. Not to mention the fact the Management Plan already dictates that the fishery be managed for minumum harvest of ND coho, and all the other ND considerations, like the new corridor restrictions...clear evidence that the Department's position is not one of, "we fished it just as required, met the restrictions as required, no further action is needed." I attend those meetings and have never heard that. You made it up. Obviously they take issue with ND fish and work with the Board, as the record shows. Clearly they are aware of the mixed-stock, mixed-timed UCI fisheries...a nearly impossible situation where having your cake and eating it too is out of the question.
It appears you want to sacrifice the most healthy, productive, valued, sustained, and abundant fishery of Cook Inlet - millions and millions of sockeye - all to get yourself a few thousand more Northern District coho. Speaking of the last 4 years, the Little Su has fallen short by only 577 coho in 2009, and 918 in 2010...On average 3,330 coho short over the 4 years with a goal of 10,100. That is not unusual for a sporatic system that has seen as little as 3,017 coho return (1999), and as many as 40,199 (2004). Regardless of the excuses you will give, that is hardly justification to sacrifice the Central District. Especially when the ND has production problems, and returns from even some very abundant brood years have been dismal.
I can understand your frustration in wanting to blame someone, and I believe the Central District drifters do take some ND coho. But I am in total disagreement with your tactics of using conjecture, blaming the commercial fishery, or sacrificing the most healthy fisheries, all to get your own way. Again, show us the facts; exactly what the ND is producing, what is returning, and what of that the Central District drift fleet is taking. Then we can do the math, and make a defendable argument for sacrificing the Central District.
Fun, the facts are there. http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm...rd.meetinginfo The departments comments on AC11 are here. Read them; the department says they fished according to plan. I'm not speaking on "concocted conjecture." The data is there; species sampling that has taken place shows a percentage of Northern District fish are caught in the drifter's nets. The more they fish, the more ND coho get caught. The discussions were made at the BOF meeting. I sat in the subcommittee that discussed the new boundaries, and the need to manage in corridors to allow sufficient coho escapement. You say its no big deal that the MINIMUM escapement, without ANY sport fishing or inriver use at all, has been missed by an average of 35% over 4 years; an entire life cycle of cohos. At one time the Little Su was the most popular coho fishery in the valley, with harvests more than double what the threshold escapement is. I strongly disagree with you. So does the state. This river has now met the requirements for a Stock of Concern. I think that sucks. I don't think thats the situation the Board expected to be faced with after last meeting; they passed regulations they thought would allow more coho to transit the inlet.
I also think that this year's flood makes it an even bigger deal, as this year's return will have very poor spawning and rearing success. If we have to sacrifice profit from the huge sockeye returns on the Kenai to ensure continued runs in other systems, then so be it. If doing so threatens the health of other systems, like the Kenai or Kasilof, from too many fish in the system, then the state needs to turn to other methods of intercepting Kenai and Kasilof fish, that impacts other systems less.
"It appears you want to sacrifice the most healthy, productive, valued, sustained, and abundant fishery of Cook Inlet - millions and millions of sockeye"
I disagree; starting with your claim of "sustained." Its not a sustainable fishery if it bankrupts other fisheries by its prosecution. I also don't think it needs to be sacrificed; I think the drift fleet would have profited just fine with a harvest of 3 million sockeye instead of 4 1/2 million, and the reduced fishing time would have allowed better escapements of ND sockeye and coho. I don't think its fine that the entire East Side Cook Inlet miss spawning escapements, and force residents to stay home instead of fishing, just so one segment of the industry can rake in landfall profits.
The Kenai has not biologically over escaped yet; every large return has resulted in more abundant returns thereafter.
Back to my original point, though. The board tried, ostensibly at least, to pass more coho through the central district, it did not work, and the Department in its comments gave no indication that it really cared about anything other than doing exactly what the Board authorized it to do.
http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm...salmon_harvest This page has the catch data. Not sure what you would make of this, but stat 24455 had 2058 deliveries, 6893 coho. So 3.3 fish per delivery. Not bad! Funstastic, you think I'm just guessing that Central District drift is catching way too many ND coho. Well, the stats I reviewed before making my claims tend to bear me out. At least I think so. Stat area 24460 "Central District drift" had 4349 deliveries, with 66695 coho. Eerie, the first 3 numbers of that stat, eh? Anyhow that is 15.3 coho per delivery; 5 times that of stat area 24455 (full corridor drift)!
I do not blame the Central District for all of Little Su's woes. But since the Little Su and other East side drainages are now qualified as Stocks of Concern, with the Big Su drainages also poorly, the Central District as the largest commercial harvester of cohos needs to be looked at, and whatever measures necessary to reduce its catch of coho implemented.
Nice try willphish4food, but you can't take catch data from the biggest district and the biggest stat and just assume that is where the Little Su's coho went, or assume that's where the stock of concern stems. In fact, you can't even assume the Little Su produced enough coho to be caught in the first place. You certainly can't say the new commercial corridor restriction had no effect. And one could just as well make the same WAG and assume the West Side and Northern District fisheries took those coho, since those fisheries are closer in proximity and path, and would have a more direct impact. Remember, the Central District drifters have been fishing for over a century with less restriction and more effort, yet the Little Su still produced banner returns. So your assumptions don't add up...there is something more - much more, going on. The Central District drifters are just an easy scapegoat for you.
Again, the Little Su fell short of its goal on average by only 3300 coho over the last four years...only 577 fish in brood year 2009, and only 918 fish in 2010. Don't get me wrong, there is no question the Central District takes a percentage of Northern District coho, but how many, what systems those coho belong to, and whether or not eliminating the Central District's incidental catch would even make a difference in the Little Su meeting goals, is not evidenced.
Add to that the sporatic history of returns to the Little Su over the last two decades (anything from 3,000 coho to 40,000), dismal returns from banner brood years, flooding issues, in-river over exploitation, and well-known in-river production problems, and it does not make sense to sacrifice other healthy fisheries on it's behalf. I mean, just because it's raining out doesn't mean you can fill a bucket if the bucket has a hole in it. Everyone just ges wet trying. It's like going all-in on a pair of duces. And BTW, missing escapements 35% of the time for such an unpredictable, plaqued system is quite amazing, as I think any fisheries biologist would tell you.
As for your accusations concerning the Department's view of AC11...They DID NOT say, "we fished it just as required, met the restrictions as required, so no further action is needed." They are well aware that further action may be required. But they can't take action that has profound impacts on other healthy systems and fisheries without defendable justification outweighing that. You have none. The Department simply chose not to set escapement goal priorities for systems like the Little Su, recognizing the disaster that would have on all the other UCI systems and fisheries. Not to mention the Department has worked with the Board on this issue, and they are well aware of the situation. That is why the Management Plan specifically dictates that harvest of Northern District coho be minimized, and why the new corridor restriction was implemented. You have simply demonized the entire issue because you did not get your own way. Your conjecture was certainly concocted, and to imply the Department doesn't care bares that out.
Look, I feel your pain. But even if you could evidence your claims, in the big picture the needs of a few hundred or few thousand coho from a system with it's own production problems, does not outweigh the needs of all the other healthy systems and fisheries in Cook Inlet, including millions and millions of sockeye. You and I both know that in this very complex mixed-stock, mixed-timed CI fishery, we cannot have our cake and eat it too. We certainly can't make those kinds of sacrifices based on the kinds of assumptions you make.
Willfish4food, if you have evidence the Kenai sockeye fishery is not sustained, or that it is "bankrupting" the Little Su coho fishery, please provide the reference. Otherwise all I ascertain from you is a hard-on for the fisheries south of you...scapegoating them with dissent and envy because the Little Su is a mess. Obviously it is unclear what effects the new corridor restrictions had on the Little Su coho, or what effects the Central District has on them, or even how many Little Su coho were produced and returned to Cook Inlet in the first place. I commend the Board for making an effort to address the issue within the boundries of our fishery policies, and I commend the Department for not setting priorities on plagued systems like the Little Su over other more substantial and healthy fisheries. The fact you are not getting your way, is no excuse for the conjecture.
Perhaps if the new corridor restrictions had no effect, they should be lifted.....
So did the BoF do or plan to make any out of cycle changes for the Matsu??
I don't think the Little Su is any different from other systems in regards to coho salmon having dismal returns from banner brood years. That happens all over the state at times with coho salmon. Likewise with flooding, Little Su isn't unique in that regard. In-river over exploitation would just mean that you harvested too many and didn't achieve the escapement goal, but then that applies to all users harvesting Little Su coho.
Originally Posted by Funstastic
What I'd really like to know is what are these "well-known in-river production problems" you mention?