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Thread: 2013 Kenai River King Salmon Escapement: Frequently Asked Questions

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    Default 2013 Kenai River King Salmon Escapement: Frequently Asked Questions


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    Thanks for sharing, BP.

    Merry Christmas!
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    TRUE kings (> 30") observed in the main spawning tribs = 1042.

    OUCH!
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    How many king salmon were harvested in the Kenai River early-run king salmon fishery prior to July 1, 2013?

    No harvest was allowed. The Kenai River early-run king salmon inriver sport fishery was restricted effective May 16, 2013 to non-retention of king salmon. Our estimate of release mortality for the early run is five king salmon.
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    "ADF&G is conducting a comprehensive coded wire tag recovery and genetic sampling of marine harvests in Central and Lower Cook Inlet. This sampling includes the Homer, Deep Creek, and Ninilchik recreational fisheries (beginning in 2014); and the Upper Sub-district set gillnet commercial fishery (began in 2010). This will allow us to determine the stock-specific harvest of both runs of Kenai River king salmon in these marine harvests. This is an ongoing project."

    Seems like a monumental task, esp when dealing with a wild source of smolts. Anyone know more about this project? Basic design? Number of chinook streams represented in the CWT's implanted? Volume of CWT's implanted? Expected recovery rate for CWT's?

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    Quote Originally Posted by fishNphysician View Post
    TRUE kings (> 30") observed in the main spawning tribs = 1042.

    OUCH!
    I just want to point out that the ADF&G question and answer paper is pure bull. They have mislead the public with the answers and the firgures above are a perfect example. First, this figure comes from the weirs but that is only about half the spawners. A number of fish spawn below the weir (50%) and we do not know the age composition of that portion of the return. Second, reporting to the fish implies some knowledge and certainity that is not there.

    Next, they report the early run did not make the goal and use the 2000 lower sonar estimate as a justification. However, the goal was based on correction for bias and uncertainty using the Baysian model (it used average age composition). It is an absolute number and therefore using the count at the lower site as absolute to make this claim is bad science given they admit it has significant error. They know that 4000 - 6000 fish spawned in the system.

    Next they imply the netting program was adjusted in 2013 and again imply that this will correct the small fish bias. Not true. There is no way more netting can correct for this error. The problem is that near shore nets have a different catch proportion and rate than the nets fishing offshore. There is no way they can combine the two netting areas and get a true picture of the age composition. They could use the weirs to look at catch differences by age but they do not say that.

    In summary, this is a smoke and mirror paper and until ADF&G admits to the real problems the stock will suffer and so will the users. Time to write the Commissioner and Representatives and demand an independent review of the whole counting program.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fishNphysician View Post


    "ADF&G is conducting a comprehensive coded wire tag recovery and genetic sampling of marine harvests in Central and Lower Cook Inlet. This sampling includes the Homer, Deep Creek, and Ninilchik recreational fisheries (beginning in 2014); and the Upper Sub-district set gillnet commercial fishery (began in 2010). This will allow us to determine the stock-specific harvest of both runs of Kenai River king salmon in these marine harvests. This is an ongoing project."

    Seems like a monumental task, esp when dealing with a wild source of smolts. Anyone know more about this project? Basic design? Number of chinook streams represented in the CWT's implanted? Volume of CWT's implanted? Expected recovery rate for CWT's?


    I noticed that too. Not sure it's mathematically possible. In order to get statistically signficant results, you need to CWT alot of juvenile salmon. The average return rate is normally around 1% (lots of variability around that). But still, in most circumstances, the only way to mark enough juvenile salmon to get a high enough number of adults (three or four years later) is to mark hatchery fish just before they are released from a hatchery. In those circumstances, it's not hard to CWT one or two million smolts. Under those circumstances, the number of returning adults will be high enough to make statistical inferences.

    However, if you don't have a hatchery, you can't possibly capture/mark/release enough WILD juvenile salmon to achieve an error rate that allows reliable estimates of the adults. It's possible the return adult rate is higher in Alaska, but they would still need to mark an incredible number of wild juvenile salmon for the study to be successful.

    I'd like to know how they're gonna do that......

    A genetic study of the origin of the catch would be alot easier, and alot more reliable.

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    Agreed.

    As I said earlier..... MONUMENTAL
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    Nerka - The fish biologist doth protect too much, methinks. With apologies to W. Shakespeare (Hamlet, quote from Queen Gertrude).

    You're over-reacting to the ADF&G's question and answer page. Normally, the purpose of those articles is to provide basic information to a non-technical audience. In doing so, lots of details get left out, by necessity, since they need to focus on their audience, which does not include present or former fish biologists and fisheries scientists (including myself). Everyone needs to understand the purpose and audience for the Q's and A's. The intent is NOT to deceive the public, as you seem to suggest. I'm sure ADF&G has a public outreach staff, but they cannot provide lots of technical details (including the limitations on their assessment methods), and still keep it simple and understandable. You obviously know more about these issues than anyone else outside ADF&G. But you're not the audience.....

    If I'm starting to sound like Marcus, lemme know......



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    I think they are primarily planning on sampling the recreational marine harvests as well as the East Side Set commercial fisheries for genetics, where they may be able to determine harvests of the tributary and mainstem spawning Kenai River kings. There may be some genetic confusion of Kenai tributary fish with other lower Kenai Peninsula king stocks, but it is still a fairly reasonable project. I agree with your statement on CWTs and think the CWT recovery information will be used to detect other stocks (L48 and Canadian hatchery, SEAK fish) and not Kenai stocks as they are not marked with CWTs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cohoangler View Post
    Nerka - The fish biologist doth protect too much, methinks. With apologies to W. Shakespeare (Hamlet, quote from Queen Gertrude).

    You're over-reacting to the ADF&G's question and answer page. Normally, the purpose of those articles is to provide basic information to a non-technical audience. In doing so, lots of details get left out, by necessity, since they need to focus on their audience, which does not include present or former fish biologists and fisheries scientists (including myself). Everyone needs to understand the purpose and audience for the Q's and A's. The intent is NOT to deceive the public, as you seem to suggest. I'm sure ADF&G has a public outreach staff, but they cannot provide lots of technical details (including the limitations on their assessment methods), and still keep it simple and understandable. You obviously know more about these issues than anyone else outside ADF&G. But you're not the audience.....

    If I'm starting to sound like Marcus, lemme know......


    You are mistaken here Cohoangler. A number of organizations have professionals advising them on positions for the upcoming Board of Fish meeting. There are 300 or more proposals and to comment on them requires some data and understanding of what is going on. It makes a big difference on comments if ADF&G says there are 2000 early run fish spawning vs 4000-6000 and in one case the goal is not made and in the other it is made. Lots of people's lives depend on the truth here.

    Relative to the numbers of late run chinook a number of emails have been sent to the Commissioner of ADF&G asking for specific data. Here is an example of an email just sent as a follow up to the news release. It was not sent by me or written by me but a leader of an organization who copied me on it.

    Good Morning Tom,

    I had time to review the FAQ document the department has put out on your website and I find that all of our questions except perhaps #3 still remain unanswered. Our questions are mainly about the success of the RM13.7 sonar and its relationship to the lower river sonar in the form of numbers and percentages of difference. These numbers are important for us to look at in contrasting the two sonars for future management and escapement goals. I’m sure you have this information if as your document suggests, “Yes. The sonar research project was successful in 2013”. You also said that, “Estimates were comparable for fish larger than 30in., especially during the late run. We have completed an evaluation of counts large fish at both sites and they are comparable”. These statements indicate that you do have the data available that we are seeking. This data will help us greatly to better understand future information about the new site.

    Advisory committees are meeting and ADF&G is not forthcoming with actual data. The lack of trust with the Department is growing everyday. This sonar project for 30 years has been smoke and mirrors and it continues today and it does not have to continue. The public is willing to engage with the Department on discussions (you should see the email trail on chinook counting) and yet the Department published something that is totally misleading or false and then says to the public we will not answer any more questions.

    Sorry, but here in Alaska because we have a full open Board of Fish process the public has to be informed and use data to make their case. They cannot do that when ADF&G refuses to play fair.

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    Nerka - We must disagree on this point.

    In my view, the purpose of the Q/A document was NOT to provide quantitative information on assessment methods or "actual" data. The purpose of the document was to provide information to a well-educated public (i.e., residents of the KP) about some of the technical aspects of fisheries management, including the vagaries of enumeration. The purpose was not to provide specific quantitative information on which alternate management options could be developed, discussed and debated (on BB's such as this one).

    I can fully understand ADF&G's reluctance to provide that information, since it will likely be used to generate alternate management options by those folks who have no authority (but lots of interest) to manage the fishery. But, I suspect ADF&G is required by law to provide that information, given that it's been collected with public funds, so it's public information. Fair enough. But, again that wasn't the purpose of the Q/A document.

    At some point, I would hope ADF&G will be forthcoming with whatever it is they've been asked to provide, knowing full-well that it will be used against them. But that's part-and-parcel of managing a high profile fishery such as the Kenai Rv. I would hope you can understand their perspective, even though you may disagree with it. And me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cohoangler View Post
    Nerka - The fish biologist doth protect too much, methinks. With apologies to W. Shakespeare (Hamlet, quote from Queen Gertrude).

    You're over-reacting to the ADF&G's question and answer page. Normally, the purpose of those articles is to provide basic information to a non-technical audience. In doing so, lots of details get left out, by necessity, since they need to focus on their audience, which does not include present or former fish biologists and fisheries scientists (including myself). Everyone needs to understand the purpose and audience for the Q's and A's. The intent is NOT to deceive the public, as you seem to suggest. I'm sure ADF&G has a public outreach staff, but they cannot provide lots of technical details (including the limitations on their assessment methods), and still keep it simple and understandable. You obviously know more about these issues than anyone else outside ADF&G. But you're not the audience.....

    If I'm starting to sound like Marcus, lemme know......


    Thanks Papi for posting this.

    No Coho, you definitely don't sound like Marcus...

    Comments section.
    http://peninsulaclarion.com/news/201...eases-2013-faq

    I don't think that Nerka is the only one disappointed by the lack of information in this FAQ. While may not share Nerka's particular criticism of the department, I do have to say that as a fisherman, this "FAQ" sheet poses more questions than answers, and it does without a doubt gloss over some pretty substantial issues that ADFG has in counting Kings. Just a few would be:


    1. ADFG says that the counts on large fish were comparable between upper and lower counters, especially when the lower counter expansion factor was taken into account. The ER expansion factor was 1.55, and we know that the count was way low relative to weir data. The LR expansion factor was only 1.28, however ADFG claims this compensated number tracked the closest with the upper counter. Forgive me, I'm confused...

    2. ADFG claims that they can accurately count large kings, however they admittedly have problems counting <20" fish. With the discrepancies between the ER sonar and weir data which were only partially explained in this document, I'd say you could say that again! They also list the sport and commercial king harvest for 2013. Over 22% of the commercial king harvest this year was made up of age 1.1 fish, nearly all of which are <20". What was the # of <20" fish harvested in the sport fishery? Why, if these fish aren't being counted accurately are they included in the harvest stats as apples to apples with larger fish?

    3. It sounds like the upper river sonar is promising. How does the department plan to account for the fact that something like 60% of the inriver King harvest is below the upper counter? How would they respond to concerns that this will lead to an increased allocation to the inriver fishery?

    4. In 2011 and 2012, post season escapement estimates were substantially higher than the inseason estimate. What changed in 2013?

    I'm sure I'll have more, but that's a start.

    Coho, we have a BOF meeting coming soon, and many user groups have been patiently waiting for more information and clarity on the King counts. This document does not provide that. While I thank ADFG for this, and I know that the task of counting kings is very difficult, I think that the only thing this document makes clear is that after decades of trying, we still don't have a real bead on how to accurately enumerate these fish.

    I believe the real point of Nerka's post was that we need an independent review of the Kenai King Sonar program. I agree.

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    Thanks TB. I won't comment on bullet points 1 - 4, since there are folks with much more expertise than I. However, I completely agree with the rest of your post.

    And here is the real gem in your response: "......after decades of trying, we still don't have a real bead on how to accurately enumerate these fish."

    That, right there, is the basic, fundamental issue regarding fishery management in almost any circumstances on this planet, including the Kenai and the Columbia. We are managing our fisheries without fully knowing how many fish we have to manage. Without a really good estimate, we are making educated guesses. And sometimes those guesses aren't all that educated. As a result, lots of people get hurt economically and socially. And the fish can get hurt biologically.

    Thanks for the reminder.....

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    Cohoangler, the purpose of this Q&A was to fool the public and divert the real discussion of what is going on. For months people have asked for data and were told that their questions would be answered in the Q&A document. They were not. Also, the document is full of misinformation. In my 33 years the one project that has been consistently over-sold and one which staff has misled the public is the chinook sonar counting operation. This just follows the same pattern. I am not surprised by it since it has been ongoing since 1985. Maybe if you saw the emails and internal discussion notes you would have a better appreciation for this issue. I understand being outside that you do not have the historical perspective. No problem. It is hard to believe a professional organization will do and say the things they do about the chinook program. Sad situation.

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    In my opinion I don't think they really know how many Kings are making it to the gravel nor do I think they really know how many they really need on the gravel. What I do think is that they are saying they do when they don't. Lowering the minimum escapement was silly if you ask me. But then again no one asked me its just my opinion. I do think they need to take a very hard look at those two things by some one who can look at it objectively and NOT those that are involved with the process. It needs to come from the outside from some on not connected to any specific interest.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kgpcr View Post
    In my opinion I don't think they really know how many Kings are making it to the gravel nor do I think they really know how many they really need on the gravel.
    That pretty much sums up how many of us feel about the situation.

    Thanks kgpcr

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    Quote Originally Posted by kgpcr View Post
    In my opinion I don't think they really know how many Kings are making it to the gravel nor do I think they really know how many they really need on the gravel. What I do think is that they are saying they do when they don't. Lowering the minimum escapement was silly if you ask me. But then again no one asked me its just my opinion. I do think they need to take a very hard look at those two things by some one who can look at it objectively and NOT those that are involved with the process. It needs to come from the outside from some on not connected to any specific interest.
    I was just talking to some at ADF&G Soldotna and the staff is having a really hard time with the Q&A for the same reasons I posted. I think the local staff would appreciate and support a full outside review. They take the heat for decisions made above them and a good objective review would help everyone out. No one should fear a good outside review.

    Unfortunately, with the review of the escapement goal report the reviewers did not spend the time to check out the data going into the models. I suspect that is because they were not asked. So using bad data they found the Baysian portion of the model to be fine but that was not the only question. The whole program needs a review and it will be money well spent. I think the fear is that the Department will look bad and that will impact budgets so the cover up takes place. A lot of people in government have not learned that the cover up is worst than the first error.

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