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Thread: Cook Inlet ESSN Harvest

  1. #1

    Default Cook Inlet ESSN Harvest

    I read through the KR early and late-run King threads. Although they went downhill fast, they kept gravitating towards ESSN harvest and it was suggested that a new thread be started so here it is.

    To jump right in - while KRLRK runs were low like many others statewide, they were in no way low enough to constitute radically changing traditional ADFG management style, or the interconnected network of management plans that has for the most part been successful at achieving escapement goals in the past. Obviously there are exceptions as you up north would be quick to point out, but for the most part our fisheries managers have done a pretty good job in the past of making escapement goals while satisfying the needs of all the various user groups.

    This year marked a radical change in fisheries management. Low King escapements combined with pressure from the KRSA crowd caused ADF&G to make most management decisions this year around the Kenai River LRK. As a result, many other SEG's in our rivers were not made. The Kenai and Kasilof sockeye SEG's were broken, and many in the northern district were not met due to drifter harvest. Oh, the Kenai LRK SEG was made with room to spare.

    It is disturbing to me that the management strategy idea that gained the most traction in previous threads (PNP's) had exactly the same problem as what we witnessed this year - it failed to take into acount the fact that Sockeye are the most important fish to the majority of Alaskans. Instead, all fishing opportunity would hinge on the availablility of surplus Kings after the inriver fishery gets its share.

    Which brings me to my next point. How many of you would be ok with a plan that ties the commercial gillnet fishery with the PU fishery on the Kenai or Kasilof? If the commercial industry is restricted, the PU fishery is restricted. Exactly, no one. Why has no one brought up the fact that when the river closes to the commercial inriver industry, perhaps it could be left open in some limited capacity to residents who enjoy taking their kids fishing?

    It is also disturbing that this period of low abundance, which some of the older fisheries in the Inlet (Gillnet) have observed before, is being portrayed as the "new normal" before we even have the final escapement numbers from ADFG. The escapement number we've been given to date is a poorly converted unit from Didson to the old TS-based goal of 17,800. It has not taken into account the fact that Didson counts less fish due to less sockeye bias. It is likely that the escapement goal for didson will be altogether different than the one that was created years ago based off completely different technology. Unfortunate that it was all ADFG had to manage to this year.

    At the risk of rambling, a few more points not mentioned in the previous threads:

    ESSN's are managed on Sockeye abundance, never king abundance. In fact, their exploitation rate is a fairly steady 19% of the available Kings during any opener (probably lower when considering only Kenai Kings). Also, Cook Inlet Gillnetters have already underwent gear restrictions many decades ago to minimize king harvest in previous periods of low abundance. ESSN's use setnet gear proven most effective at harvesting sockeye - gear similar to what is used in the Yukon to maximize king harvest is illegal. This 20% exploitation rate makes their 2 spaced out regular periods a week an excellent indicator of run strength without ever having the potential to threaten the sustainability of the stock. In fact, it's the most historic, accurate, and cost-effective index of abundance that ADFG has.

    C & R is an effective way to minimize inriver harvest, however if "every King counts", then let's be honest with the numbers. C&R mortality does not take into account multiple hookups or spawning success. Egg retention in stressed sockeye is a proven factor, and while unknown, it's safe to assume the same is true for Kings. Nevertheless, if some people accepted that C&R is good for the local economy and those who enjoy the recreation, and others accepted that ESSN's cannot prevent all King harvest, but are equally important, perhaps everyone could fish even in a year of poor return.

    Bottom line is that the ADFG sport fish division is in charge of King enumeration and has been asleep at the wheel for many years, catering to the KRSA crew, doing a sloppy job of counting fish, and keeping what numbers they do have close to the chest (not even producing annual management reports). When there was a significant drop in King run strength - something that is and always has been normal, they overreacted by putting the binders on everyone. The people who really got "low-holed" this year are the residents of the communities that depend on this natural resource to sustain their way of life.

  2. #2
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    Good subject . . good post . . good points . . thanks . .

  3. #3
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    Well said.

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    Do you have the numbers of northern district fish that were harvested by the Cook Inlet drift fleet? I have tried to locate those numbers, and can not locate them anywhere.

  5. #5

    Default Cook Inlet ESSN Harvest

    Perhaps samples have been pulled from past harvests, but I don't know. I don't believe that anyone knows for sure yet, however commercial division is doing genetic testing on the northern test boat that will give managers a better idea of where the northern stocks run. Those commercial managers, they just keep giving us solid, reliable data that benefits commies and sporties alike!

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    Quote Originally Posted by smithtb View Post
    Perhaps samples have been pulled from past harvests, but I don't know. I don't believe that anyone knows for sure yet, however commercial division is doing genetic testing on the northern test boat that will give managers a better idea of where the northern stocks run. Those commercial managers, they just keep giving us solid, reliable data that benefits commies and sporties alike!
    If no one knows how many northern fish are harvested by the drift fleet, why are they/we being blamed? What info that could be taken from the test boat would have anything to do with what this thread? this thread is about " Cook Inlet ESSN Harvest "!

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by smithtb View Post
    Perhaps samples have been pulled from past harvests, but I don't know. I don't believe that anyone knows for sure yet, however commercial division is doing genetic testing on the northern test boat that will give managers a better idea of where the northern stocks run. Those commercial managers, they just keep giving us solid, reliable data that benefits commies and sporties alike!
    And those king genetic samples will be compared to the baseline that was developed by Sport Fish Division sampling king salmon on all the spawning grounds throughout northern Cook Inlet and the Kenai Peninsula. Each division contributes to the collection of data depending on the species and where the information is being gathered. This theme of one Division being greater than the other is getting tiresome and offers nothing to move forward in solving allocative issues when run abundance is low. And no one with any history of fishing in Cook Inlet can deny that the last three years have been poor king runs that cannot support average harvest by all user groups.

  8. #8

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    MGH55,

    I was wrong. Comm Fish pulls genetics from catches every year on sockeye, and writes a report. The last report is on catch year 2009, but here is the info. I'm sure a more current report will be out soon. They're pretty on the ball. Attached is the 2010 report, and I believe it breaks down the stock composition, although I haven't read it yet.

    http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/FedAidPDFs/FDS10-93.pdf

    Commfish, what's getting tiresome is not knowing the facts that our tax dollars pay for. I'm being asked to accept that there are drastically less Kings, and we need to change our fisheries, some of which have been sustainable for a very long time, and we don't even have escapement numbers yet. I'm sorry, but ADFG sport fish manages Kenai King numbers, and they've done a terrible job of making public data public.

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    smithtb. Thanks, I read to reports even thoe not up to date from what I can make of them fish from the upper inlet are in trouble. To me it looks like the trouble is not from the set or driftnetters, when fishing a mix stock fishery and the total upper Inlet harvest is so small of a part of the total harvest we must look at the in river problems first. I do not think that restrictions on drift or set netters will turn around the salmon runs in the upper Inlet nor were they the cause for the low returns. I hope it will turn for the better.

  10. #10

    Default Cook Inlet ESSN Harvest

    As do I. Yes, the northern district has some fairly substantial habitat issues - many of which we have started seeing here on the Peninsula as the population grows and things change. Fortunately, many of them a fixable. Pike, beaver dams, hydrocarbons, turbidity, overcrowding, they're all workable problems if we put our minds to it.

    I didn't read the report, but understand that the general consensus is that the drifters' exploitation rate of northern district fish is around 30% - slightly greater than the ESSN KRLRK exploitation rate of just less than 20%. Clearly neither of these fisheries are the reason for the decline of these stocks. It's unfortunate that we're spending all of our time finding ways for these fisheries to catch less of these fish, and very little time focusing on the glaring problems in all of these local systems that have known effects on yield.

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