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Thread: ESSNs and second run kings in the Kenai

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    Default ESSNs and second run kings in the Kenai

    This thread is carried over from the one concerning the first run kings, a proposal for C&R etc. Clearly the ESSNs have nothing to do with the first run kings, so discussions involving the 2nd run kings, reds, and the ESSNs was clearly out off topic.

    The ESSNs were shutdown most of this year, undoubtedly saving some kings but at a high cost to the ESSNs and the community that support them. Dip netting was reported to have been better and more consistent, and the dip netters weren't annoyed by the ESSNs boats deliberately trying to swamp them. The sport fishermen going after 2nd run kings were unhappy with being closed down, but probably pleased to see the ESSNs suffering also. The drift netters were obviously pleased with getting a bigger share of the pie of course.

    In summary, the ESSNs and their supporters were very unhappy, the sport fishermen going after kings were supportive of shutting down the ESSNs forever, dip netters were generally happy, and a lot of people could care less.

    So - will and/or should the ESSNs be shutdown part or all of the 2013 season IF the 2nd king run is below expectations?
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    Yes, ESSN should be restricted if the run is poor, but not closed completely. Two, twelve hour openings should be allowed per week. Also a quota should be set on kings harvested, once that limit is reached, ESSN is done for the year. The same type of restrictions should be made for the in river guys, Allowed to fish 3 days per week, 1 of those days driftboat only, also with a limit of kings allowed to catch. No catch and release, you keep the first fish you get to the boat. It is going to take the honor system to make any of this work. I understand there are parties in both fisheries that are less than honest and will try to cheat the system, but there is a thing called karma, and it will catch up them.
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    Default YES!

    Start BOTH fisheries at a low-impact baseline. Adjust as needed on a sliding scale based on in-season abundance. Couple of examples.

    In-river fishery managed for chinook non-retention single barbless baitless (to establish in-river CPUE as an index of abundance) until in-season data confidently projects that limited chinook retention will still keep escapement within the BEG. Fishery closes when in-river return projected to fall short of chinook BEG. Allow bait/barbed hook when projection exceeds midpoint of BEG. Full retention when projection exceeds BEG.

    ESSN's fish only one regular period per week ( to establish CPUE as an index of abundance) until in-season data confidently shows that fishing more days won't jeopardize the chinook BEG. Liberalize to two days per week when projection exceeds midpoint of chinook BEG, if doing so is still consistent w/ achieving sockeye OEG. Additional openers EO'd when chinook projection exceeds BEG, if said openers are consistent w/ achieving sockeye OEG.
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    Default FYI

    Final Late Run Kenai River Chinook Inseason Summary

    King salmon run update:
    The preliminary DIDSON estimate of king salmon passage at the king salmon sonar site for the 2012 season was 21,817 fish. Late arriving late-run king salmon necessitated extending the 2012 DIDSON sonar and netting program through August 15. Based on historical run timing since 2002, the 2012 run was about 8-9 days later than normal, as approximately 36% of the run arrived after July 31. The cumulative catch per unit effort in the test netting program and the net-apportioned sonar indices were the lowest on record since 2002.
    The 2012 total run, appears to be the worst on record.
    The following web link provides additional information on Kenai River king salmon sonar operations: http://www.alaskafisheriessonar.org/

    Fishery Harvest:

    The preliminary creel survey estimate of king salmon sport fish harvest (including catch-and-release mortality) was approximately 200-300 fish above the sonar site. The preliminary creel survey estimate of king salmon sport fish harvest (including catch-and-release mortality) below the sonar site was 4 fish. The inriver sport fishery for king salmon was restricted for much of 2012, and was closed from July 19 to the end of the season on July 31. Retention of king salmon in the personal use dipnet fishery was prohibited in 2012. The cumulative commercial eastside set net harvest was 584 king salmon. The commercial eastside set net fishery for king salmon was restricted for much of 2012, and was closed from July 19 to the end of the season on July 31.

    Escapement:

    The preliminary 2012 DIDSON-based sonar escapement estimate is ~21,500 king salmon. While it is not clear how the DIDSON sonar estimate relates to the current sustainable escapement goal of 17,800-37,500 late-run Kenai kings, the 2012 escapement will be higher than the previous two years because of restrictive management actions taken inseason. It should be noted that escapement would have been much lower had the inriver sport, personal use and the commercial eastside set net fisheries not been restricted or closed.


    Additional Information:


    DIDSON Sonar - Currently, there is no DIDSON-based escapement goal for Kenai river king salmon. The department will develop a DIDSON-based escapement goal for implementation in 2013. During 2013 the department will continue to investigate operating a DIDSON sonar to assess king salmon at a location near river mile 13.4.

    SSART Model
    - In 2012, the department conducted a capture-recapture project to estimate Kenai River king salmon abundance independent of the DIDSON sonar data. This estimate, termed the stock specific abundance and run time model (SSART), uses genetic data collected from king salmon in the test netting project and sport harvest as well as king salmon counts from weirs located in the Kenai River drainage. This project does not provide an inseason estimate of king salmon passage, but provides a measure of the accuracy and consistency of DIDSON sonar to index passage as an inseason management tool. Genetic samples collected in 2012 will be processed later this fall and used in development of the new DIDSON-based escapement goal.
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    Question

    Start BOTH fisheries at a low-impact baseline. Adjust as needed on a sliding scale based on in-season abundance. Couple of examples.

    In-river fishery managed for chinook non-retention . .
    In other words, in-river king fishing begins with catch-and-release, which kills about eight percent of the fish, and is only liberalized if run strength allows more harvest?

    While there shouldn't be serious objection to opening the fishery with caution, there are many ways to exercise caution other than a mandated, C&R fishery. There are many ways to kill a limited number of fish other than C&R.

    For instance: no bait, single barbless hook, limited hours, limited times, etc.



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    Yes, but the important point being raised by FishDoc and Hoose35 is that fishing for Chinook and sockeye salmon on the Kenai River should be CLOSED until ADF&G develops sufficent biological information, on a real-time basis, to open the fishery. Even then, the amount of mortality (from whatever source) is tightly restricted until additional information is developed to expand the fishery. This would signficantly change how the Kenai River fisheries are managed. In fact, it would turn fishery management on the Kenai on it's head. In a good way.

    Biologically it makes sense but socially it's a disaster. If nobody can predict whether, or when, the fishery will open, it's tough to make the investment necessary to participate in the fishery. That includes both recreational anglers (from the L48 or wherever) and commercial fishermen.
    Planning becomes very difficult for just about everyone who might want to fish the Kenai. Perhaps it's the 'new normal' given the poor escapements over the past few years.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cohoangler View Post
    Yes, but the important point being raised by FishDoc and Hoose35 is that fishing for Chinook and sockeye salmon on the Kenai River should be CLOSED until ADF&G develops sufficent biological information, on a real-time basis, to open the fishery. Even then, the amount of mortality (from whatever source) is tightly restricted until additional information is developed to expand the fishery. This would signficantly change how the Kenai River fisheries are managed. In fact, it would turn fishery management on the Kenai on it's head. In a good way.

    Biologically it makes sense but socially it's a disaster. If nobody can predict whether, or when, the fishery will open, it's tough to make the investment necessary to participate in the fishery. That includes both recreational anglers (from the L48 or wherever) and commercial fishermen.
    Planning becomes very difficult for just about everyone who might want to fish the Kenai. Perhaps it's the 'new normal' given the poor escapements over the past few years.


    Thanks . . and I mostly agree.

    But first a question: When you say the Kenai should be closed to King fishing "until ADF&G develops sufficient biological information," what exactly do you mean? In my mind, that could take several years. Is that the thrust of your suggestion?

    Let's get that point clear and go from there.


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    Marcus - Ya missed the phrase "on a real time basis". My thoughts are that this type of biological information needs to be developed quickly, and management decisions need to be made on a moments notice. However, that is NOT how fishery management decisions are currently made. But given the changing circumstances in the Kenai River, that might be the future.

    At this point, I'm not sure ADF&G (or anyone) has the technology or the confidence in the biological information to make such quick decisions. But those limitations can be overcome. It's time to start thinking in this direction.

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    Wink Did you just fall off the turnip wagon?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cohoangler View Post
    Marcus - Ya missed the phrase "on a real time basis". My thoughts are that this type of biological information needs to be developed quickly, and management decisions need to be made on a moments notice. However, that is NOT how fishery management decisions are currently made. But given the changing circumstances in the Kenai River, that might be the future.

    At this point, I'm not sure ADF&G (or anyone) has the technology or the confidence in the biological information to make such quick decisions. But those limitations can be overcome. It's time to start thinking in this direction.


    On your "real time" basis, I'm cynical as hell. Biology sucks hind-tit to politicized economics—until a particular run hits core meltdown, and then all that obtains is hypocritical weeping and gnashing of teeth, nothing more than political theater.

    On a real-time basis, things will rock on as they have. Yes, everyone will pay sanctimonious lip-service to caution and conservation next season, but all it will amount to is some feel-good, token gesture so that business can continue as usual until the run tanks again and the weeping and gnashing of teeth begins anew. I doubt C&R at the opening bell will fly, but it might. Time will tell. In the meantime, all the posturing is comical as critical mass gives everyone a chance to drag their favorite hobby horse out of the closet.

    Everybody cares. . . . you think? What's really cared about is trying to appear holy while still cutting a piece of the pie. And lest anyone think that's overstated, consider the "real time" conservation effort for Kenai kings over 55"—as Kenai kings get smaller year after year. And, hey, if we can't kill 'em to eat, at least we can play them to death.

    Bottom line?

    Those that really care about the dire condition of the Kenai's kings will hang up their rods.


    *Just kidding about the turnip wagon, but you knew that. Just so everyone else knows too.

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    Default equal sacrifce..

    How would this play out as far as the number of kings lost to the ESSNs and the sport guys?

    If we are proposing to share the sacrifice to save the kings are we going to do it on a $$ lost case basis OR divide the number of kings that each side is allowed to keep out of a possible surplus - if there is indeed any kings to spare.

    Or is the only "fair" way to shutdown all sport and ESSN fishing until we figure out what is going on? Shutting everything down may save enough fish to allow the species to survive until we hopefully figure out what is really going on in the ocean etc. Pain would be great of course and everyone would cry like the legendary stuck pig.

    On a relate note, I'm watching to see what the Native community is going to achieve in the way of getting bycatch reduced. They may be able to get something done that the rest of us have unable to achieve. That may prove to be a sucessful backdoor approach to saving the Kenai kings.

    Quote Originally Posted by hoose35 View Post
    Yes, ESSN should be restricted if the run is poor, but not closed completely. Two, twelve hour openings should be allowed per week. Also a quota should be set on kings harvested, once that limit is reached, ESSN is done for the year. The same type of restrictions should be made for the in river guys, Allowed to fish 3 days per week, 1 of those days driftboat only, also with a limit of kings allowed to catch. No catch and release, you keep the first fish you get to the boat. It is going to take the honor system to make any of this work. I understand there are parties in both fisheries that are less than honest and will try to cheat the system, but there is a thing called karma, and it will catch up them.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tvfinak View Post
    How would this play out as far as the number of kings lost to the ESSNs and the sport guys?

    If we are proposing to share the sacrifice to save the kings are we going to do it on a $$ lost case basis OR divide the number of kings that each side is allowed to keep out of a possible surplus - if there is indeed any kings to spare.

    Or is the only "fair" way to shutdown all sport and ESSN fishing until we figure out what is going on? Shutting everything down may save enough fish to allow the species to survive until we hopefully figure out what is really going on in the ocean etc. Pain would be great of course and everyone would cry like the legendary stuck pig.

    On a relate note, I'm watching to see what the Native community is going to achieve in the way of getting bycatch reduced. They may be able to get something done that the rest of us have unable to achieve. That may prove to be a sucessful backdoor approach to saving the Kenai kings.
    I dont have the reference, but I seen it quoted that historically, ESSN take 25% of kings harvested and Sport fishermen also take 25%. It would seem fair for each of them to have the same limit on kings. Start out with a low limit, I am not an expert, so I don't have a good suggestion on how many should be allowed, but I think somewhere between 500-1000 kings for each user group would be ok. The biggest problem with this idea would be reporting, it wont work if nobody is reporting as the should.
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    Red face

    . . the number of kings lost to the ESSNs and the sport guys . .

    . . shutdown all sport and ESSN fishing . .

    Historically, the sport-fishery and the ESSNs take the same number/percentage of kings, about twenty-five percent each. In the meantime, the ESSNs are a valuable management tool as managers seek to exploit the harvestable potential of Cook Inlet's sockeye runs.

    Shutting both fisheries—sport and ESSNs—would save some chinook while imposing economic hardship on both industries across the board. The sport/recreational industry has other opportunities to recoup some of their loss. The ESSNs, none.

    Added to the economic loss imposed on the set-net industry, one must factor in the loss of a management tool. At what price is all-out conservation of a single species worth it? Especially when all such efforts may well be in vain.

    It seems to me that we need to exercise restraint cautiously lest we end up cutting off our collective nose to spite our collective face.

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    We are mixing a biological problem with a social problem. Biologically it makes sense to open the fishery only when the stocks are strong enough to allow harvest. In a mixed stock fishery, like the Kenai, there will always be some "opportunity costs" because of the timing of fish runs, and the selectivity of the gear. Marcus is correct in that the ESSNers take a bigger proportional hit (economically) because of the limitations of their gear and their dependence on Kenai Rv sockeye. However, does that mean ADF&G should change their management of the fishery to solve a social problem? In my view, no. However, should the BOF take those differences into consideration when they make fishery policy decisions? Yes. That's their job. Making decisions on 'who gets what' is never easy, and there will always be differing opinions on how to slice the pie. And given the changing economics of the Kenai Peninsula, and Alaska, those decisions will not get any easier, especially with Chinook salmon.

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    What fishNphysician is proposing is simply a priority for sportfishing, all while throwing the sockeye goals under the bus.

    To suggest imposing a contiued in-river mortality fishery (whether it be via his catch[kill]/release or not) while the ESSN's sit out, is selfish, unfair, and counter-productive to any recovery. And to suggest that sockeye goals could somehow be met by fishing ESSN's only one day a week is a WAG, even if the sockeye happen to hit on that day.

    Under fishNphysician's idea, if for some unfortunate reason the Kings don't show again (a likely scenario), we will not only have lost the in-river King fishery, but given up a healthy, abundant, and perfectly harvestable ESSN sockeye fishery while waiting for those Kings to show. All as fishNphysician strokes his recreational ego by playing with (and killing) some of those few Kings that did happen to enter the river...perhaps a nice big breeder.

    Using fishNphysician's idea, maybe the ESSN'ers should practice C&R of the Kings (many already do) while the in-river recreational fishery sits it out or fishes only one day a week. I'm sure the ESSN'ers would be willing to tend their nets in a manner to instantly release any Kings, or even fish lighter gear, in order to nurse the Kings into the river. Or does the C&R shoe only fit on one foot.

    But really, the ESSN'ers sustained the second run of Kenai Kings for over a century, always allowing plenty to enter the river, and in fact they sustained the very run of Kings that the in-river sportfishery has now loved to death. So yes, we can restrict the ESSN into oblivion, but as the historical results of doing that show, it won't work - the sportfishery will just exploit them anyway (via proposals like fishNphysician's). The first run is historical evidence of that...the ESSN's are closed and don't fish Kings, yet the run still remains dismal due to in-river sportfishing pressure.

    It breaks my heart to see folks supposidly so concerned about the Kings...as they find it acceptable to scapegoat other users with contempt while continuing to impose their own mortality on the Kings, in the the name of things like catch[kill]/release.

    For decades we have all known (and predicted) that the Kenai River Kings would eventually succumb to in-river sportfishing pressure. We knew the Kenai did not have the carrying capacity for the magnitude of in-river exploitation that was taking place. But politics and emotion ruled the day. And now here we are at rock bottom. The ESSN'ers might be a tool in recovery (if recovery even exists), and folks can look to them and other various related fisheries as scapegoats, but the real solution lies in addressing the in-river exploitation. That is where these discussions need to be. A catch[kill]/release fishery is not that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cohoangler View Post
    We are mixing a biological problem with a social problem.
    I believe the social problem created the biological problem.

    That social problem is the in-river sportfishery, evidenced by the ESSN'ers historical ability to sustain the Kenai King runs, and the fact the first run is not even fished by the ESSN'ers, yet it remains dismal due to continued over-exploitation by the in-river sportfishery. So we need to address the problem - the in-river sportfishery. The ESSN fishery, in it's current form, will always put enough Kings into the river to achieve sustainability. The same cannot be said for the sportfishery.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cohoangler View Post
    We are mixing a biological problem with a social problem. . . does that mean ADF&G should change their management of the fishery to solve a social problem? In my view, no. However, should the BOF take those differences into consideration when they make fishery policy decisions? Yes. That's their job. Making decisions on 'who gets what' is never easy, and there will always be differing opinions on how to slice the pie. And given the changing economics of the Kenai Peninsula, and Alaska, those decisions will not get any easier, especially with Chinook salmon.


    Nicely said, Cohoangler, there's a tough row to hoe in front of us. But let us not delude ourselves:

    There is no such thing as a "biological" problem devoid of social dimensions!

    What we save, why we should save it, at what cost should we save it, and much more are all social questions to which, once decided, we apply biological science in an effort to implement social decisions.

    Science is purely materialistic, totally objective, and value-free. All decisions about who gets what, why, when or whether they should even get a piece of the pie are social questions.

    Period.

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    . . It breaks my heart to see folks supposidly so concerned about the Kings...as they find it acceptable to scapegoat other users with contempt . .


    Heartbroken isn't what comes to my mind . . more like . .

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    Quote Originally Posted by Funstastic View Post
    But really, the ESSN'ers sustained the second run of Kenai Kings for over a century, .
    How do we know the second run Kenai kings were sustained 70, 80, 90, or 100 years ago? Sonar or weirs were not used back then to calculate escapement. ESSN obviously did not take 100% of the kings, but it's impossible to say it was sustained if we do not know how many kings returned to the Kenai 70-100 years ago due to a lack of a sonar or weir.
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    Let me attempt to answer a question, with a question.
    On a graph showing the decline of the King Run (first & second), what user group has grown exponentially while the runs declined, the ESSN or the sport and dipnet groups?
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    Quote Originally Posted by FishGod View Post
    How do we know the second run Kenai kings were sustained 70, 80, 90, or 100 years ago? Sonar or weirs were not used back then to calculate escapement. ESSN obviously did not take 100% of the kings, but it's impossible to say it was sustained if we do not know how many kings returned to the Kenai 70-100 years ago due to a lack of a sonar or weir.
    Thanks for reminding us, FishGod, and you are correct—we have no data.

    But while we don't have empirical data from 70-100 years ago, we do know for certain that the Kenai kings were sustained back then simply because they're still today. Depleted and diluted a bit over the last decade, but still here nevertheless.

    Too, we are likely justified in believing that those earlier runs boasted bigger fish than we're seeing currently . . at least that has been the case over the last decade or so.

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