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Thread: Can commercial fisherman keep fish for themselves?

  1. #1
    Member coho slayer's Avatar
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    Default Can commercial fisherman keep fish for themselves?

    I had an interesting conversation today, one which, due to the small size of Alaskan communities, I'm going to have to be vague about, but here goes:

    I found out a Copper River commercial fisherman had brought in almost 1,000lbs of beautiful but not so plentiful Copper River kings that he had caught in his commercial nets to be processed for himself. My first thought, as someone who doesn't get to keep even 1 lb of Copper River king that I might catch in either the sport or personal use fishery, was outrage.

    Is this legal? Can the commercial fisherman pick and choose what they keep themselves and what to sell? That seems counter-intuitive to the whole division between commercial and personal use, but it seems they can do whatever the heck they want. It's also a bit sickening when there is such a lack of in-river fish that the king fishery is totally shut down.

    Someone in the know please clarify before I march down to F&G and say something that might be way off-base.

    Thanks!

    (BTW, I have nothing against the commercial fisherman making a living....but I do have something against them stocking their freezers and smokers under the guise of commercial fishing. Keep it fair...if you want it for the freezer, take the time off work like the rest of us and get it the same way we do.)

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    Member hoose35's Avatar
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    Why does he have to sell them? It's his loss financially if he doesn't get paid for them
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    Member coho slayer's Avatar
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    Because that's the eliciting of commercial fishing...

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    Member coho slayer's Avatar
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    Stupid phone... That's the definition of commercial fishing. It's also how fisheries mangers track what's caught. By your reasoning, I could commercial fish, keep them all to myself, and all of those fish would be unaccounted for.

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Yes, commercial fishermen can keep fish (it's known as home pack), but the fish are all weighed and accounted for. If in a quota-based fishery, such fish count against their quota. And yes, keeping such fish comes at a financial loss.

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    By a permit and get after it
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian M View Post
    Yes, commercial fishermen can keep fish (it's known as home pack), but the fish are all weighed and accounted for. If in a quota-based fishery, such fish count against their quota. And yes, keeping such fish comes at a financial loss.
    I've always given commercial fisherman a lot of credit and leeway in arguments about management being biased toward them, but holy cow. I can't do that anymore.

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    If you are a cattle rancher, would it be wrong to safe a steak for yourself?
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    Member coho slayer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hoose35 View Post
    If you are a cattle rancher, would it be wrong to safe a steak for yourself?
    Apples and oranges. They would be my cattle, not a public resource.

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    Fish caught by A commercial fisherman within the rules and regulations of the permit they posses belong to that fisherman. They are his fish. It's most certainly in his/her best interest to sell them for profit
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    From a monetary standpoint, it makes sense to sell as much as you can, but obviously it's common practice to keep whatever you want for yourself as well. I'm glad it's counted against your quota if that applies, but in many cases it doesn't. You're right in the sense that once caught it's theirs, so I suppose in the end it doesn't really matter what they do with it.

    From a management standpoint, and a sport/personal/subsistence/commercial regulation standpoint, it's obvious who gets the lion's share of what does begin as a public resource. Cap or quota the king catch and everyone not in the salt might get a shot at them, too, but that's been proposed and ignored for years (specifically in regard to the Copper River fisheries as stated in the first post). Or simply put a per permit limit on the home catch that is reasonable and comparable to the personal use fishery.

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    Member hoose35's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by coho slayer View Post
    From a monetary standpoint, it makes sense to sell as much as you can, but obviously it's common practice to keep whatever you want for yourself as well. I'm glad it's counted against your quota if that applies, but in many cases it doesn't. You're right in the sense that once caught it's theirs, so I suppose in the end it doesn't really matter what they do with it.

    From a management standpoint, and a sport/personal/subsistence/commercial regulation standpoint, it's obvious who gets the lion's share of what does begin as a public resource. Cap or quota the king catch and everyone not in the salt might get a shot at them, too, but that's been proposed and ignored for years.
    People catch kings in the freshwater all the time, what do you mean they don't get a shot at them?
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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    One, it seems very hard to believe that a fisherman would keep 1,000 lbs of kings for himself. At season opening prices, that would be a loss of what, $6,000 to the fisherman? I'm not saying it didn't happen, but I'm skeptical.

    Two, whether a fisherman sells his catch or keeps a few for the freezer, that doesn't change the management as far as season dates, time allocated to openers, quotas, etc. It's really not a management issue.

    Three, the comment in the OP stating "Keep it fair...if you want it for the freezer, take the time off work like the rest of us and get it the same way we do.", all I can think is - we make our choices. A life of commercial fishing comes with a lot of costs and a lot of risks, and it comes with some benefits as well. The same could be said for any line of work. I don't begrudge the guy taking a few fish out of his load (at a personal cost to himself since he will not realize that income). If I wanted to do the same and net my salmon rather than catching them on a rod and reel or dipnet, I could also change my line of work and get into commercial salmon fishing.

  14. #14

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    I keep many fish for personal use every year. Completely legal and accounted for. Sometimes I even make sure the scale crew gets a chance to sample what I keep so they can get good data. This year, it costs me $2.00-$3.00 a pound to do so. I still choose to do that rather than go P.U. fishing - for many busy & working people it pencils out financially even if you don't commercial fish - they would cost you the same.

    Perhaps your disgust came simply from the fact that Kings were being harvested. It's almost becoming taboo to admit one likes to kill and eat them...

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    Quote Originally Posted by coho slayer View Post
    Keep it fair...if you want it for the freezer, take the time off work like the rest of us and get it the same way we do.)
    Assuming you don't mean by going down to the docks and buying it from your neighbor?

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    Smithtb,
    When are the home pack tickets (not sure what they are called) sure to f&g? I remember hearing at the bof that they were still coming in as they weren't due for a year or so after the season. I could be wrong on the time frame. I just recall some fish tickets were still coming in and I thought I heard "home pack". Could you clarify for me, thanks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian M View Post
    One, it seems very hard to believe that a fisherman would keep 1,000 lbs of kings for himself. At season opening prices, that would be a loss of what, $6,000 to the fisherman? I'm not saying it didn't happen, but I'm skeptical.

    Two, whether a fisherman sells his catch or keeps a few for the freezer, that doesn't change the management as far as season dates, time allocated to openers, quotas, etc. It's really not a management issue.

    Three, the comment in the OP stating "Keep it fair...if you want it for the freezer, take the time off work like the rest of us and get it the same way we do.", all I can think is - we make our choices. A life of commercial fishing comes with a lot of costs and a lot of risks, and it comes with some benefits as well. The same could be said for any line of work. I don't begrudge the guy taking a few fish out of his load (at a personal cost to himself since he will not realize that income). If I wanted to do the same and net my salmon rather than catching them on a rod and reel or dipnet, I could also change my line of work and get into commercial salmon fishing.
    Given the market value, it seemed ludicrous to me, too, unless the fisherman is doing something else with the fish. That's another discussion.

    I agree with all of your points, and admit that I was a little shocked and angered. More so by the amount than the fact that they kept any fish for themselves. So would some sort of personal limit on a commercial fisherman's take home fish be a reasonable thing? Or is this a cake and eat it too scenario? I totally respect people who choose this as a career/partial career, and you're right, it has it's perks. BUT...come on. That's a lot of kings from a river that is, according to the fishery managers, short enough on kings to close their retention to nearly everyone else. And it is their choice to spend the time and money on the fishery, as you said. They could do something else. It still comes down to a fairness issue in distribution across user groups for me. The Copper River is managed so only one group gets any kings. That's not fair.

    Smithb, I don't care if someone kills a king. They are my favorite, personally. And this year my freezer will be devoid of any, not out of any self-righteous sacrifice to save the fish, but because the fisheries managers won't let a guy like me keep any. And yes, that's the crux of my anger. One fraction of the state (many who aren't actually from the state) get to catch and keep so many fish that there aren't enough left in the river for the rest of the state.

  18. #18

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    Not sure about specific home pack tickets or if they exist, but would assume it is the same as catcher-seller tickets. Fill out the fish ticket, stamp it with permit number, call in the harvest data by the next morning. The preliminary harvest data is available quickly, the paperwork takes a long time to get processed, just like many other fisheries. Personally, I just use the personal use portion of the fish ticket provided by the cannery when I deliver. Number of fish, species, etc. It's pretty simple.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hoose35 View Post
    People catch kings in the freshwater all the time, what do you mean they don't get a shot at them?
    Specifically the Copper River, no, they don't. And if they do, they have to throw them back because...drum roll....there aren't enough in the river.

    Hmmm.

    But there ARE enough for the commercial fisherman to catch as many as they can, unrestricted.

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    Unrestricted? Are you sure about that? This thread sounds like sour grapes to me.
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