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Thread: Kenai kings in today's CLARION

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    Default Kenai kings in today's CLARION

    http://peninsulaclarion.com/opinion/...s-conservation
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    Voices of the Peninsula: Kenai River king management: opportunity vs. conservation

    Posted: June 28, 2016 - 2:02pm









    By Dwight Kramer



    Sadly, all too often our Alaska Department of Fish and Game management favors opportunity at all costs. Their recent decision to open the Kenai River king salmon early run to harvest and allow harvest all the way to Skilak Lake starting July 1 are prime examples. I applaud them for not allowing bait starting July 1, but suspect that they will give in to pressure to do so very early in the late run. I would hope that they would have sense enough to keep that bait restriction above Slikok Creek throughout the season. A recent Clarion poll showed that 85 percent of the local respondents agreed that they should not have opened the early run to harvest.


    Many of us, both professional and non-professional locals, believe the collapse of the early run, in the first place, was the result over-harvest directed from a faulty management plan. So returning to the same plan that caused most of the problems is ludicrous at best. Over-harvest of the early run occurred because of several factors, including excessive exploitation in the spawning and staging areas of the middle river, erroneous counting and faulty escapement reporting.


    — Excessive exploitation in the spawning and staging areas: Because the early run, and in particular the early run mainstem spawners, enter the river earlier than any other Kenai River king subspecies they are available for harvest longer and particularly vulnerable when they are starting to stage for spawning. These fish are often targeted when people are hard pressed to catch fish, if the water is dirty down in the lower river, or low numbers of fish are entering the lower river.


    — Erroneous counting: ADF&G readily admits that the old Bendix sonar system over counted fish. This means that in many years more liberal harvest regulations were instituted earlier than they should have been leading to possible lower than reported escapement numbers.


    — Faulty escapement reporting: It should be understood that the lower than reported sonar numbers resulted in some level of less true escapement than reported but an even more significant error in the escapement value was the result of the department counting all harvest after July 1 against the late run. By incorporating this ill-fated management scheme, combined with the sonar issues, the department vastly overestimated the early run escapement numbers. Many of us suspect there were some years where we fell short of the minimum escapement required for sustainability.


    Over the last five years or so U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service tributary weir data indicates significant declines in the amount of females and less larger age class fish in the early run. Their data suggests that we are down to around 25 percent females and only around 8 percent 1.4 age class fish. Historically, the 1.4 age class should make up around 40 percent of the run. Fisheries experts tell us that these types of fundamental changes in the make up of a king salmon run are usually the result of too much exploitation of larger age class fish in the run, or “selective harvest” as we know it. They also tell us that when this occurs it takes several generations, under conservative actions, to rebound from this phenomena.


    So for me, I would say that Fish and Game’s current management plan for this season is careless at best and certainly has the potential for jeopardizing any gains we might be making in the numbers of fish by compounding the problems we are trying to address in protecting more females and larger fish in the run.


    ADF&G needs to change their mantra from “opportunity at all costs” to “conservation with appropriate allowable opportunity.” We need to provide more protection for our king runs if we want to insure future sustainability.



    Dwight Kramer of Kenai is a local Kenai area private angler and advocate for sustainable Kenai Peninsula fisheries.

    "Let every angler who loves to fish think what it would mean to him to find the fish were gone." Zane Grey
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    Member hoose35's Avatar
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    Dwight is spot on in this article

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    Responsible Conservation > Political Allocation

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    Dwight Kramer, private angler, chair of Kenai Area Fisherman's Coalition: "ADF&G needs to change their mantra from “opportunity at all costs” to “conservation with appropriate allowable opportunity.” We need to provide more protection for our king runs if we want to insure future sustainability."

    From 2011: Dwight Kramer, a private angler and head of the Kenai Area Fisherman’s Coalition, had put forward a few proposals to conserve the king salmon runs, which were not passed by the board.“This process seems to be consistent in that they continue to support economic opportunity over conservation concerns,” he said.
    Yet he has also publicly stated that measures to conserve sockeye in Susitna drainage cost too much economic opportunity to the commercial fleet. So what is it, Dwight? Economic opportunity or conservation concerns? http://housemajority.org/coms/jcis/p...t_20080527.pdf


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    Quote Originally Posted by willphish4food View Post
    Dwight Kramer, private angler, chair of Kenai Area Fisherman's Coalition: "ADF&G needs to change their mantra from “opportunity at all costs” to “conservation with appropriate allowable opportunity.” We need to provide more protection for our king runs if we want to insure future sustainability."

    From 2011: Dwight Kramer, a private angler and head of the Kenai Area Fisherman’s Coalition, had put forward a few proposals to conserve the king salmon runs, which were not passed by the board.“This process seems to be consistent in that they continue to support economic opportunity over conservation concerns,” he said.
    Yet he has also publicly stated that measures to conserve sockeye in Susitna drainage cost too much economic opportunity to the commercial fleet. So what is it, Dwight? Economic opportunity or conservation concerns? http://housemajority.org/coms/jcis/p...t_20080527.pdf

    Can you not see the difference? First one deals with a single stock while the other deals with a mixed stock fishery. Next Susitna sockeye are a yield concern not a consevation concern as you imply. Goals have been met. There are no age composition issues or sex ratio issues with Susitna sockeye. Finally this thread about kenai not dwight so keep on task.

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    Yeah willphish4food, lets lambaste Mr. Kramer for trying to protect the Kenai King and putting conservation over opportunity. Way to go.

    Ironically, you exemplify someone who can never get enough opportunity and who consistently blames the "commercial fleet" for everything. Like your post, conservation gets lost in the opportunity battle. Exactly why Mr. Kramer writes.

    For the record, Dwight's article was about continued harvest of the early run Kenai Kings on their spawning grounds. The "commercial fleet" does not even fish that run. As for your sockeye opportunity, you have the same opportunity as anyone, including the tens of thousands of households from your area making up 70% of the Kenai personal use sockeye harvest.

    Kudo's to Mr. Kramer. If only the willphish4food's of the world would listen.

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    I think ADF&G has done a fine job managing this fishery. Years ago, we would all complain about the runs starting out fully liberalized only to be restricted after the horse had left the barn. Now they are starting out conservatively and liberalizing in steps to allow some form of a fishery to take place. 9000 ER kings and counting!

    The slot limit will stay in place in the middle until July 15 which will protect those ER fish, and my guess is even if bait is opened in the lower when escapement numbers come up for the LR, there will be no bait allowed in the middle.

    I say things are looking up, and I am quite happy that I will be able to do a little king fishing this season. Haven't fished for kings in the middle river since 2011.

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    I have to disagree Charlie. We are in this mess because of ADF&G's poor management. Mr. Kramer outlined some of the reasons very well. Basically, for the price of economic opportunity, ADF&G simply did not protect the incredible, one-of-a-kind fishery we once had. They continue to not do enough, fast enough.

    While 9000 Kings might sound great, the make-up of them is not. The number of large, prime, fecund, age-class females, is severely disproportioned, and scary low, especially in some tributaries. The high number of small males is alarming.

    Allowing harvest all the way to Skilak is not a conservative move. It's a bonehead move - completely unnecessary. It hammers ER Kings, for a longer period of time, where they are most vulnerable - in their spawning areas.

    You can certainly pound Kings in the middle river if you want. Personally, I get more satisfaction King fishing in the salt - I don't even think about King fishing on the Kenai anymore.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nerka View Post
    Can you not see the difference? First one deals with a single stock while the other deals with a mixed stock fishery. Next Susitna sockeye are a yield concern not a consevation concern as you imply. Goals have been met. There are no age composition issues or sex ratio issues with Susitna sockeye. Finally this thread about kenai not dwight so keep on task.
    Again, Nerka, you contradict yourself. You have stated many times that the Kenai king fishery is a mixed stock fishery, that discriminates against discrete populations like Slikok Creek and early run kings vs late run kings. In your rush to discredit me, you lose sight of your contradictions. There are similarities between the management, and I am simply pointing it out in the divergent views the article's author holds. You show yourself guilty of the same dichotomy of thought.

    In order to protect smaller less abundant stocks of kings that make up the Kenai King run, the author suggests restrictions on fishing all fish in the run. Same as restricting harvest on all sockeye in the Central District in order to protect smaller stocks in the Susitna Drainage. Same as limiting Northern District set net chinook harvest to protect discrete stocks that are struggling.

    Just closing Slikok Creek to all sport fishing isn't doing enough to bring the kings back to it. Just limiting fishing of early run kings in June hasn't brought back the early run. If all the ER fish are still in areas open to fishing come July 1 when the river opens back up, then the gains made by June restrictions are lost. Economic opportunity from the more abundant stocks is lost when restrictions are placed to protect less abundant stocks. I get that. You get that. But seem blind to the same realities up in my neck of the woods.

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    I'm hopeful that kings are improving. Good point that the stock comp is still not great. USFS weir data should be coming in soon and will be interesting.

    Arguably, ADFG is managing more conservatively than the management plans direct. They are projecting above the OEG and have not opened the ER fishery to bait. All honest projections of LR forecast and commercial harvest put more than 22,500 LR kings inriver, yet they are not allowing bait to start the LR. Not being critical of either one of these conservative decisions, just pointing out that ADFG is being conservative. I think the real problem here is with our management plans. I think our kings need some sanctuary upstream, and that fishing regs should change to be more restrictive up there. I'd also like to see a creel program up there rather than relying only on statewide harvest surveys and logbooks to know what is going on with fish already counted as escapement that are being pulled off spawning areas. I'd also like to see some changes in these paired restrictions, because while it may be true that some are pushing for managing for opportunity over conservation, some are at the same time attempting to manage one fishery to achieve reduced opportunity in another through pairing rules. It's goofy and doesn't help us manage the resource.

    I'm definitely not giving ADFG a pass - there are some hinky politics going on within the department right now - I'm hopeful it is being sorted out. Just pointing out that the management plans are what need to change IMO. ADFG will likely continue to be the same political beast it's always been, but there are some really good people in there trying hard to provide opportunity while keeping things sustainable.

    As for the article written by a private angler who has spent a lot of time trying to protect these fish - I agree that conservation is important, but have also seen the term conservation batted around and misused so often that whenever it comes up I cringe. Manage for sustainability. Yanking kings off spawning beds 30 miles upriver is not that. I think he would agree.

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    OK Fun, you catch them in the Salt, those fish go somewhere but you justify by saying, I don't know.
    If a dipnetter dips a fish and there is no one around to see/hear it, Did he really dip?

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    I don't fish kings anywhere, cause I don't know where they are heading. I error on the side of caution
    If a dipnetter dips a fish and there is no one around to see/hear it, Did he really dip?

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    Quote Originally Posted by willphish4food View Post
    Again, Nerka, you contradict yourself. You have stated many times that the Kenai king fishery is a mixed stock fishery, that discriminates against discrete populations like Slikok Creek and early run kings vs late run kings. In your rush to discredit me, you lose sight of your contradictions. There are similarities between the management, and I am simply pointing it out in the divergent views the article's author holds. You show yourself guilty of the same dichotomy of thought.

    In order to protect smaller less abundant stocks of kings that make up the Kenai King run, the author suggests restrictions on fishing all fish in the run. Same as restricting harvest on all sockeye in the Central District in order to protect smaller stocks in the Susitna Drainage. Same as limiting Northern District set net chinook harvest to protect discrete stocks that are struggling.

    Just closing Slikok Creek to all sport fishing isn't doing enough to bring the kings back to it. Just limiting fishing of early run kings in June hasn't brought back the early run. If all the ER fish are still in areas open to fishing come July 1 when the river opens back up, then the gains made by June restrictions are lost. Economic opportunity from the more abundant stocks is lost when restrictions are placed to protect less abundant stocks. I get that. You get that. But seem blind to the same realities up in my neck of the woods.
    I will agree there appears to be a contradiction but as I have stated before I have fought for distributional goals in the Susitna. However, distribution is only one of the issues with the early Kenai chinook run. Until people realize that the only way to solve the fishery created issues is to have a pass through fishery below the counter all the rest is whitewash. The contradiction appears but is not in reality because of the cause of the decline.

    Relative to Susitna, the establishment of weirs and goals for individual systems as I have stated before was a recommendation I made in 1986 and went nowhere. However, restricting the whole commercial fishery for systems in the Susitna that are down because of in-river issues is not correct. The major loss of sockeye in the Susitna is due to pike and beaver dams not harvest. Therefore, harvest restrictions will not fix the problem. In the Kenai harvest restrictions will do some good.

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    Have they said anything about being able to keep personal use (dipnet) kings in the Kenai this year?

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    Quote Originally Posted by CapnMike View Post
    Have they said anything about being able to keep personal use (dipnet) kings in the Kenai this year?
    If ADFG hasn't issued an EO (they haven't) than the law is what is printed in the reg books. So, right now it's game on for retaining kings in the dip net fishery. My guess is that they'll monitor the run closely and if it's weak they'll restrict it to no king retention. Stay tuned....

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    Quote Originally Posted by thewhop2000 View Post
    I don't fish kings anywhere, cause I don't know where they are heading. I error on the side of caution
    Well that's silly. They're awesome.

    This is the kind of "conservation" that scares me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by thewhop2000 View Post
    I don't fish kings anywhere, cause I don't know where they are heading. I error on the side of caution
    That's pretty much where I am. I'm not religious about it, but I haven't targeted a naturally produced King since the Gulkana went tits up. I haven't felt good about molesting hens on any of the road accessible runs. I'll put a bobber in Ship Creek occasionally, and I suppose I'd keep a male that I caught dip-netting in Chitina.

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    Quote Originally Posted by thewhop2000 View Post
    OK Fun, you catch them in the Salt, those fish go somewhere but you justify by saying, I don't know.
    That's whack-o. I didn't justify anything.

    I said I get more satisfaction King fishing in the salt - I don't even think about King fishing on the Kenai anymore. Sorry if that chaps your azz.

    It is silly of you to correlate catching Kenai Kings on their spawning grounds with winter feeder kings I catch November-March in Kachemak Bay, especially when the handful I keep have clipped adipose fins. And yep, I'm honest when I say biologists don't have a full understanding of where all these winter kings originate. However ADFG does have a growing data base of clipped adipose winter kings (including many of mine) which do show origin. That data base points to them not being Kenai kings. FYI, none of mine have been Kenai kings, and the chances of that are slim to none.

    So really whop, is it Mr. Kramer's part about conservation over opportunity that bothers you? Because you seem more concerned with allowing harvest of a clipped-fin salt-water winter king in Kachemak Bay than the harvest of a Kenai king in it's spawning grounds - not a word from you on that. Go figure.

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    Quote Originally Posted by thewhop2000 View Post
    OK Fun, you catch them in the Salt, those fish go somewhere but you justify by saying, I don't know.
    Are you suggesting that harvest is more acceptable if we know where the fish are headed? Is it better to harvest them after they've been counted as escapement the way we are doing it on the Kenai and in your neck of the woods, despite only having a vague idea of total harvest? Is that why reps from the Matsu are seeking to restrict the Homer winter king fishery despite the large majority of those fish being abundant stocks - many of them hatchery - from other states/countries/areas? I'm not a big fan of the numbers game many play with those smaller kings, but I don't understand proposing these types of restrictions just to make others feel better. At least reasonable harvest in the salt spreads the pressure amongst stocks, meaning it's a lot less likely that one specific stock will get hammered the way they might by a terminal fishery upstream of enumeration efforts - say on the Little Su or near a clearwater trib on the Kenai.

    Quote Originally Posted by HikerDan View Post
    That's pretty much where I am. I'm not religious about it, but I haven't targeted a naturally produced King since the Gulkana went tits up. I haven't felt good about molesting hens on any of the road accessible runs. I'll put a bobber in Ship Creek occasionally, and I suppose I'd keep a male that I caught dip-netting in Chitina.
    Bolded part is important. Big difference between making a personal decision not to fish on healthy natural king stocks and forcing others to stop as well. There was some baggage included with my previous response to Whop's post given his efforts towards the latter.

    An honest question to the dippers who share this sentiment - when Sockeye abundance undoubtedly dips the way king abundance has, when will you decide to stop harvesting them? If, for instance, escapement goals were still being met in the Kenai, would you continue to dip there despite reduced numbers and size of Sockeye?

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    Quote Originally Posted by smithtb View Post
    I'm hopeful that kings are improving. Good point that the stock comp is still not great. USFS weir data should be coming in soon and will be interesting.

    Arguably, ADFG is managing more conservatively than the management plans direct. They are projecting above the OEG and have not opened the ER fishery to bait. All honest projections of LR forecast and commercial harvest put more than 22,500 LR kings inriver, yet they are not allowing bait to start the LR. Not being critical of either one of these conservative decisions, just pointing out that ADFG is being conservative. I think the real problem here is with our management plans. I think our kings need some sanctuary upstream, and that fishing regs should change to be more restrictive up there. I'd also like to see a creel program up there rather than relying only on statewide harvest surveys and logbooks to know what is going on with fish already counted as escapement that are being pulled off spawning areas. I'd also like to see some changes in these paired restrictions, because while it may be true that some are pushing for managing for opportunity over conservation, some are at the same time attempting to manage one fishery to achieve reduced opportunity in another through pairing rules. It's goofy and doesn't help us manage the resource.

    I'm definitely not giving ADFG a pass - there are some hinky politics going on within the department right now - I'm hopeful it is being sorted out. Just pointing out that the management plans are what need to change IMO. ADFG will likely continue to be the same political beast it's always been, but there are some really good people in there trying hard to provide opportunity while keeping things sustainable.

    As for the article written by a private angler who has spent a lot of time trying to protect these fish - I agree that conservation is important, but have also seen the term conservation batted around and misused so often that whenever it comes up I cringe. Manage for sustainability. Yanking kings off spawning beds 30 miles upriver is not that. I think he would agree.
    So there are no spawning areas below 30 miles? and just so I understand no chinooks that would get into the kenai before July are caught by the netters the last week of June that would be June 23 to June 30, in the Kasilof area? Right? Where are most the chinooks caught when the whole river is open? This guy and group is padding for the lower river and saltwater guys that's it, close areas where the least number of chinooks are caught, wow great idea wish I would have thought of that! Let's raise foxes in the hen house. these guys have already bought the agencies controlling how we fish it sickens me. The best thing that could be done to create a normal fishery is to close stretches of the river equally through the river to the ocean this article in the clarion is a dumb scare tactic against nothing just a complaint to give more chinooks to dippers and lower river guides and the saltwater harvesters. That is it PERIOD! To bad fish and game is going to fall into a trap and instead of creating a good fishing river is going to create more mess in the river down low because of money and greed. Before you know it we will be closing the area above skilak lake to red fishing in August because it is all a spawning red area and heck why not do that the harvesting is less up there than in the lower areas and salt. That is where this is all going just wrong.

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    Quote Originally Posted by smithtb View Post

    Bolded part is important. Big difference between making a personal decision not to fish on healthy natural king stocks and forcing others to stop as well. There was some baggage included with my previous response to Whop's post given his efforts towards the latter.

    An honest question to the dippers who share this sentiment - when Sockeye abundance undoubtedly dips the way king abundance has, when will you decide to stop harvesting them? If, for instance, escapement goals were still being met in the Kenai, would you continue to dip there despite reduced numbers and size of Sockeye?
    first, I am not avoiding natural king stocks that I consider to be healthy. There is precious little left on the road system that is healthy. If I felt that a run was healthy with a surplus, I would fish it. I am not an expert and I won't tell others to be as conservative as I am being. But, I do feel like there are a lot of users who are willing to catch "the last king" more so than I am.

    second, if the red salmon collapse like the Kings, I will eat soybeans. I imagine that I will eat soybeans while the commies are still trying to maximize their take. I don't like that, but I can't change that.

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