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Thread: How can the Kenai Dipnet Fishery be improved?

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    Member AlaskaHippie's Avatar
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    Lightbulb How can the Kenai Dipnet Fishery be improved?

    Yep, another thread on the PU fishery.

    We've all seen, heard, and read the complaints that surround this fishery: Too crowded, severe lack of facilities, congestion, rude behavior, annoyed Kenai residents, etc. etc. etc. etc.


    Lets hear some suggestions to alleviate these issues.




    I'll get the ball rolling.

    Cap the permits, go to a draw system.

    Raise the cost of the permit, with all proceeds to be spent on better services, beach clean-up, enforcement.

    Rural preference.

    Must be a resident for 5 years to qualify.
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    Ugh, rural preference. I hate the term and I hate management based on such a principle. That concept of fish and game management has done more to alienate user groups and cause division among Alaskans in this state than almost anything.

    FWIW, I would't consider residents of Soldotna or Kenai to be rural so right off the bat you exclude those who are complaining the loudest. When you have a Wal-Mart and a Fred Meyer, and Booger Kings, and McD's that hardly makes you "rural".

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcticwildman View Post
    Ugh, rural preference. I hate the term and I hate management based on such a principle. That concept of fish and game management has done more to alienate user groups and cause division among Alaskans in this state than almost anything.
    No more divisive, in my opinion, than what we are seeing with the Kenai/Anchorage division in the fishery.

    FWIW, I would't consider residents of Soldotna or Kenai to be rural so right off the bat you exclude those who are complaining the loudest. When you have a Wal-Mart and a Fred Meyer, and Booger Kings, and McD's that hardly makes you "rural".
    I don't think the complaints are due to the fact they cannot participate. However I'd wager many would be fine with the exclusion, considering it would exclude Anchorage/MatSu as well......
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlaskaHippie View Post
    No more divisive, in my opinion, than what we are seeing with the Kenai/Anchorage division in the fishery.



    I don't think the complaints are due to the fact they cannot participate. However I'd wager many would be fine with the exclusion, considering it would exclude Anchorage/MatSu as well......

    The only problem with "rural preference" is you are creating a group that is more entitled or more equal than others. A direct contradiction of our state's constitution that all citizens are entitled equal access to the state's fish and game. It also sets a very dangerous precedent for access elsewhere on the river.

    I also highly doubt that the majority of Soldotna and Kenai residents would be in favor of giving up access to the fishery while a family from say, Hope, has access to fish right out their backdoors.

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    I will admit that I do like the idea of making it a drawing. While there isn't an issue with limiting the number of fish caught, there is a legit concern over the sheer numbers of people participating in a fairly small area and the negative effects it is having. When this fishery was created, I'm sure nobody had any idea it would grow to what it is now. A drawing permit would be fair to all who want to participate.

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    Make the limit/possession match the sport fishing regs, but not inclusive. Meaning 3 fish could be dipped, and 3 on tackle per day.

    IMO, remove the incentive to fill your freezer quickly and most will stay home.

    The limits we have now are totally unrealistic, and possibly unsustainable?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcticwildman View Post
    The only problem with "rural preference" is you are creating a group that is more entitled or more equal than others. A direct contradiction of our state's constitution that all citizens are entitled equal access to the state's fish and game. It also sets a very dangerous precedent for access elsewhere on the river.

    I also highly doubt that the majority of Soldotna and Kenai residents would be in favor of giving up access to the fishery while a family from say, Hope, has access to fish right out their backdoors.
    I believe that Hope residents where given rural preference in that they are allowed to dipnet below the Falls on the Russian River. Similarly a few years ago the Ninilchik tribe was given preference to use subsistence nets on Skilak Lake, if memory serves, so the precedent is already set. In the interest of equity, I'd bet almost 100% of the Kenai residents would happily agree to leave Ship Creek to the Anchorage folks, in exchange for the Kenai.

    Rural preference is quite divisive, I agree. But given the attitude seen in other threads about "The Kenai residents "chose" to live there", well, yes they do. Just as the Anchorage/MatSu folks chose to live where they do.

    Because they prefer to......

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcticwildman
    I will admit that I do like the idea of making it a drawing. While there isn't an issue with limiting the number of fish caught, there is a legit concern over the sheer numbers of people participating in a fairly small area. When this fishery was created, I'm sure nobody had any idea it would grow to what it is now. A drawing permit would be fair to all who want to participate.
    Agreed.

    15 years ago there where very few complaints about the size of the crowds, why not get the number of permits from that timeframe, and issue that amount, via a draw?
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlaskaHippie View Post
    I believe that Hope residents where given rural preference in that they are allowed to dipnet below the Falls on the Russian River. Similarly a few years ago the Ninilchik tribe was given preference to use subsistence nets on Skilak Lake, if memory serves, so the precedent is already set. In the interest of equity, I'd bet almost 100% of the Kenai residents would happily agree to leave Ship Creek to the Anchorage folks, in exchange for the Kenai.

    Rural preference is quite divisive, I agree. But given the attitude seen in other threads about "The Kenai residents "chose" to live there", well, yes they do. Just as the Anchorage/MatSu folks chose to live where they do.

    Because they prefer to......


    LOL!! Oops, I didn't even realize that Hope residents had special access. I just tried to pick a community close by that would pass the muster test for a "rural" definition.

    Ha! Do any Peninsula folks even drive to Anchorage to fish Ship Creek? :-)

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    I like the idea of a draw permit. Perhaps the permits could be locked to specific days. That way, when the word goes out that the fish are in, there is not a huge rush by every permit holder.

    Some years holders would hit the right days and some years not. Better planning, tho, for both the fishermen and those that manage the dip net area.
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    When you think about the amount of edible meat gained from 45 fish (family of 4) that equates to about 145lb total edible fish (maybe more). More than even one average caribou.. How much fish does a family of 4 REALLY eat in a year? I would guess less than 3 a month. How much fish gets chucked because it is freezer burned?

    So, I would first limit the amount of fish per family/household.
    Then I would require the purchase of dipnet tag/license (to pay for services/facility use) per household. $20, which is less than the cost of ONE salmon).

    I would not give rural or economic preference. The fishery should be available to ALL.

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    Quote Originally Posted by aces-n-eights View Post
    I like the idea of a draw permit. Perhaps the permits could be locked to specific days. That way, when the word goes out that the fish are in, there is not a huge rush by every permit holder.

    Some years holders would hit the right days and some years not. Better planning, tho, for both the fishermen and those that manage the dip net area.
    Maybe more like hunting permits....early and late season? Divide it up from opening day (10th) to the 20th for the early draw and have a second draw from the 20th to the 30th. Give people a chance to select either week as a primary and the other week as a second choice.

    On the plus side, revenue from the application process could be shared with Kenai to help with enforcement, porta-potties, beach cleaning crews, etc...

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    I like Bambi's line of thinking...eliminating the incentive for 100K folks to fill all their freezers in the span of a few days would at least be a step towards alleviating some of the issues.

    Another concept, which will probably go over like a turd in a punchbowl, but if folks didn't do their Christmas shopping with a dipnet, the crowding issue may be at least somewhat diminished. In other words, if dipnetted fish weren't to be given away, fed to the dogs, used as fertilizer etc, some folks may be less inclined to dipnet as much/at all.

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    Looking at the numbers from last year as a reference point, there were ~30,000 permits fished, and between Kenai and Kasilof 432,748 fish caught, which means an average of 14 fish per permit. I'd venture to say that what that boils down to is the majority of people fishing are catching 10 or less per permit with a smaller percentage catching 30+ per permit. So if that is the case and the majority of people are willing to come back year after year for 10 or less fish, than I don't think cutting the family limit is going to have much affect on reducing the hoards making their annual decent from Anchorage/Mat-su.

    So what's the solution, cap permits to 20k and leave the catch the same per permit? I don't see that's going to fly. The other option is go to the same limits as the Copper, 30 per house and keep issuing 30k+ permits?

    It's a tough issue because at this point the resource supports the amount of fish taken by dipnetters, so it's hard to get people to swallow giving up their catch or access to the resource when there is no shortage of the resource.
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    First point to make is that most of the people doing the most complaining are not participating in the fishery and many of them are just repeating 3rd hand complaints about the fishery. Those who have actually been to the beach will quickly realize that most of the complaints are false.

    Draw permits is the dumbest idea I've ever heard... no wait, that's the 2nd dumbest; going to a rural preference is the dumbest. There is already a subsistence fishery for that. Dipnetting is NOT subsistence, it is SPORT personal use.

    There is a notable difference between the Kenai and the Kasilof fisheries. In Kenai, you have the city collecting money to access the fishery to pay for services. If you go spend time on the beach at both fisheries, you'll see that the most complaints about the people can be made at the Kenai beach. I think the fact that people are paying money to get there is giving some of them a sense of entitlement, which is causing some people to be rude. You'll notice that the Kasilof beach, with free access, has a lighter crowd and very few rude people. I gave up on Kenai due to the fact that it is overcrowded, limited time (can't fish through the night), and I didn't care for paying to park. The Kasilof is always fewer people, parking right on the beach, and there are no hours of operation to worry about so we can burn the midnight sun. I've yet to see rude behavior on the Kasilof beach, though there are still issues with littering, overflowing dumpsters, and nasty port-a-potties.

    Here's how you fix the "meat harvest" groups that are in it for the biggest and the most fish (even if they don't need them all)... Drop the permit limit to 15 fish for the holder plus 10 fish for each additional. This puts the number of fish you can take on par with what the fisherman can take with hook & line over a couple weekends.

    Next, the state must charge a fee of $20 for the permit. This money should go directly into facilities and enforcement on the beaches. This money is, of course, on top of the price for a fishing license, which is also required.

    This year, the beaches are notably cleaner than they were last year, which was significantly cleaner than the year before. It is so much easier to clean up 4 small sections of beach than it is to clean up 50 miles of river bank. Let's keep the zoo contained to a smaller foot print that is so easy to keep clean. On August 1st, you can't even tell that the dipnet fishery occurred on the Kenai beaches for the previous 3 weeks. I think it is one of the smartest moves we can make to keep all the potential mess in one easy spot. Imagine those thousands of people trampling down the river banks in search of the fish if we didn't have them stacked up on beach where they can do no damage?

    The state needs to ban the practice of cleaning fish on the beach within the dipnet zones for all of these fisheries. This needs to be done for two reasons. One, to keep the fish waste and thereby birds on the beach to a minimum. Second, the cesspool of bird crap and bacteria on the beach makes it the worst possible place on the planet to clean fish for human consumption. A little education will help quite a bit here, because I think people just really do not understand the bacteria problems as well as the fact that you do not have to gut a fish quickly. The best thing to do with a fish is bleed it and put it immediately on ice. Once bled and iced, you don't need to process the fish for hours.
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    I posted this on the fee thread before I realized this thread is dealing with this issue. So here it goes:

    I have read most of the posts and in my humble opinion they are missing the major points. I will try to articulate what I see as fact, fiction, and solutions.


    1. Fact, the fish are owned by the citizens of this country so where you live matters little on your ability to access the resource. Equal protection under the law should apply, except where specifically note like the subsistence fisheries.

    2. Fact, the citizens of the Kenai/Soldotna area are impacted both negatively and positively by the dip net fishery. Some individual business do well renting RV space, stores do get additional business. However, citizens who live here who do not benefit directly are more impacted than those that do and that unequal impact can be severe at times.

    3. Fact, good fishery management means Federal, State, and Local agencies should plan and develop infrastructure and other management tools to reduce conflict, safety issues, and allocation issues before a major fishery develops. This results in more positives than negatives.

    4. Fact, most users become passionate about their fishery and less so about someone else's fishery or way of life. This usually results in hard feelings between users and communities fighting over resource use.

    5. Fact, the size and scope of the dip net fishery would not be considered a management success on a professional level at this time. Chaos is more likely term to describe it than a structured well thought out fishery.

    Solution - the Federal, State, and Local agencies need to come together, recognize the negatives, and work together to reduce them while maintaining as many positive as possible - suggesting changes to staff, budget, infrastructure, whatever. The fractured nature of the agencies has made this impossible so it will take leadership at the highest levels to do it. A well trained ADF&G and DNR Commissioner would be a start. This is not a public meeting. This is a group of professionals who deal with all of the issues and who gather the facts and make sound recommendations on what should be done. No piece meal approach. Once that is in place then funding, programs, whatever can flow from the recommendations. Right now I see a lot of fighting among users but little constructive comment from those managers responsible for dealing with the fishery.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JOAT View Post

    Draw permits is the dumbest idea I've ever heard... no wait, that's the 2nd dumbest; going to a rural preference is the dumbest. There is already a subsistence fishery for that. Dipnetting is NOT subsistence, it is SPORT personal use.
    Why is a draw permit system the second dumbest idea you've ever heard?
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    Treat it like the PFD

    Weirs guide the fish in to a holding area,
    The numbers needed to spawn are released back in the river above the weir.

    Sell 50% of the remaining fish on the market & the money goes to the state coffers & run the fish processor.
    Divide what's left by AK residents, each person gets "X" pounds of fish.
    Have various fish distribution centers, go pick up you alloted fish. Wrapped & frozen.
    Pay a minimal processing fee.

    Those not picked up by August 15th are sold & or donated to state food banks.

    No commercial , personal use or sports fishing of Kenai late run reds.
    Problems solved.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul H View Post
    Looking at the numbers from last year as a reference point, there were ~30,000 permits fished, and between Kenai and Kasilof 432,748 fish caught, which means an average of 14 fish per permit. I'd venture to say that what that boils down to is the majority of people fishing are catching 10 or less per permit with a smaller percentage catching 30+ per permit. So if that is the case and the majority of people are willing to come back year after year for 10 or less fish, than I don't think cutting the family limit is going to have much affect on reducing the hoards making their annual decent from Anchorage/Mat-su.
    While the average permit holder may only catch ~14 fish, it's the draw of the huge limit that brings people by the thousands - the sheer possibility of catching 50+ fish regardless of how the reality may shake out. If the potential upside was lower - say 15 per head of household plus 5 per family member, it wouldn't change the average catch but would most certainly reduce the number of participants. Folks don't spend hundreds of dollars on gear and gas because they think they're going to catch 14 fish - they do it because there's a chance that they'll catch a much larger number. Reduce the limit substantially and you'll reduce the pressure on the community/resource/environment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian M View Post
    While the average permit holder may only catch ~14 fish, it's the draw of the huge limit that brings people by the thousands - the sheer possibility of catching 50+ fish regardless of how the reality may shake out. If the potential upside was lower - say 15 per head of household plus 5 per family member, it wouldn't change the average catch but would most certainly reduce the number of participants. Folks don't spend hundreds of dollars on gear and gas because they think they're going to catch 14 fish - they do it because there's a chance that they'll catch a much larger number. Reduce the limit substantially and you'll reduce the pressure on the community/resource/environment.

    Makes sense to me

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bambistew View Post
    Make the limit/possession match the sport fishing regs, but not inclusive. Meaning 3 fish could be dipped, and 3 on tackle per day.

    IMO, remove the incentive to fill your freezer quickly and most will stay home.

    The limits we have now are totally unrealistic, and possibly unsustainable?
    I like this one the best so far.

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