Question for ADF&G-early run chinook
O.K here is a question everyone should be asking ADF&G - the Kenai chinook early run was closed for the entire season. The commercial catches show late run fish are not even on the beach yet so they certainly are not in the river in any numbers. So why the hell is ADF&G starting on July 1st with no bait when it will be early run fish that are being harvested? Makes no sense unless you add in political junk to the decision. What political junk - here it goes some thoughts and guesses.
1. If the in-river fishery was to go to catch and release instead of no-bait it would have to be justified on early run escapements only. Therefore, it is politically easier to throw in late run even though not one late run fish has been counted and the early run to late run forecast would indicate that the late run is probably stronger than forecast. But ADF&G used the forecast this year because it is politically easier to justify an action. Remember the early run forecast was off by 2 or more times.
2. Early run only justification would mean the late run chinook plan would not be in effect and the commercial fishery would not be limited by plans on hours. ADF&G would have full flexibility to fish if needed. ADF&G says they want flexibility but they really do not on a political scale.
3. Saying there is a no bait to conserve late run causes the plans to come into play.
4 Giving up early run fish to in-river harvest to get the restrictions for late run and allow a no bait fishery works to the advantage of the sport fishery and not to the resource of early run chinook in Kenai or chinook period in Kasilof.
5. Politically it is easier to deal with because commercial fisherman have little power in this discussion and it buys time to evaluate the late run chinook but creates the situation where the Kasilof terminal fishery will come into play earlier. So this also gives up
late run Kasilof chinook but who cares about them?
6. On or about July8-10th if the sonar counts are not good the Kenai chinook fishery will go to catch and release and the set nets will be limited to 12 hours - pushing the Kasilof terminal fishery even sooner. It also means Kenai and Kasilof sockeye going well over the goals unless ADF&G goes outside the drift plans or ESSN plans. This causes heartache for the ND and politically ADF&G may not want to do this. So another year of large escapements for these two river systems.
7. ADF&G directors are hoping the drift fleet will be more effective like 2012 and get them out of this mess. If not there is no real accounting for mismanagement so what is the risk to them - none.
So here is a simple solution from my perspective. The river should be catch and release until July 10th and then open below the Slikok Creek marker to either full bait or no bait based on the late run counts. If not looking good remain catch and release. The chinook in-river fishery should be extended into August to harvest the back half of the run to maintain equal harvest levels over the return.
Next, the commercial fishery should be managed with the traditional fisheries to harvest sockeye. Time and area limitations should be based on trying to meet all the goals, not just the chinook goal. If that is not possible then ADF&G should decide what the management objectives are. For example, the goal for Kasilof will be not to exceed the replacement point, the goal for Kenai sockeye will be the upper end of the OEG, and the Kenai chinook goal will be allowed to go under 15,000 by 1000 fiish which is in the buffer. These trade-offs would change based on what the runs are doing but you get the concept.
What is happening already is that ADF&G has no plan and has little desire to tell the public anything. This is hard on everyone in the community.