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Thread: Cook Inlet Chinook collapse.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nerka View Post
    There are lots of examples of success with animal populations at low levels recovering with habitat changes done through restoration efforts. I believe you need to be more optimistic in UCI. We have had success in what I proposed. Factual examination supports my position
    I can agree about success my problem is I have not seen much to be optimistic about. The pubic voted down habitat protection the fish and game is not doing anything new I have heard of anyway. Seems like action is needed not doing the same old thing. Ok the runs in Susitna is low so close fishing thatÂ’s all there is to do how many more years. the news release for kodiak said one of the rivers had not made the goal since if I remember right 2006. So I can believe in being optimistic but kinda hard to actually be optimistic when all around is not good and read hear stories about the changing environment that is unfriendly to salmon.

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    Quote Originally Posted by willphish4food View Post
    What do you think the state could do with 30 million dollars in salt water to help Cook Inlet chinook, Nerka?
    I am not Nerka, but they could buy out 120 set net permits or 60 drift net boats and permits.

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    That would not help, other than make some guys real happy. You know what has changed, but you won't say it. The biggest factors of at sea survival we have no control over. During the greatest runs of Cook Inlet Kings we didn't even have the EEZ. We had trawl vessels from many countries fishing just outside the old 3 mile zone never tossing back anything. They had no bycatch ever they took it all! You want to point at everything other than what you can control as the trouble. When a drift netter catches a king, or a set netter catches a king. KRSA claims it is a monster Kenai King, and the Valley guys know it is one from there. No one wants to be shut down. So maybe the best thing to do is just let everyone fish till there is nothing to fight over. I feel that you would want every other fishing group closed so you could do C&R for thrills.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nerka View Post
    There are lots of examples of success with animal populations at low levels recovering with habitat changes done through restoration efforts. I believe you need to be more optimistic in UCI. We have had success in what I proposed. Factual examination supports my position
    I sure wish I shared your optimism Nerka. I know it was done in the past for the ND King population in the 70's/80's but it seems like this time there are too many factors to overcome. Almost the perfect storm of circumstances that will resist our best efforts. It is such a shame that an entire generation of Alaskans will never witness what once was a world class fishing experience.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MGH55 View Post
    That would not help, other than make some guys real happy. You know what has changed, but you won't say it. The biggest factors of at sea survival we have no control over. During the greatest runs of Cook Inlet Kings we didn't even have the EEZ. We had trawl vessels from many countries fishing just outside the old 3 mile zone never tossing back anything. They had no bycatch ever they took it all! You want to point at everything other than what you can control as the trouble. When a drift netter catches a king, or a set netter catches a king. KRSA claims it is a monster Kenai King, and the Valley guys know it is one from there. No one wants to be shut down. So maybe the best thing to do is just let everyone fish till there is nothing to fight over. I feel that you would want every other fishing group closed so you could do C&R for thrills.
    In amongst the snark and acrimony, you did give one possible solution. And an allusion to the pink elephant in the room; offshore human interception. At the peak of the bycatch, pollock fishery recorded over 100,000 chinook, with limited tracking of origin, at best. They still catch many thousands a year, again with limited stream of origin data. Considering how many chinook fisheries statewide are currently at a very low level of return, how much of the smaller bycatch number is a result of cleaner fishing, and how much is a result of years of overcatching? My suggestion for saltwater study money is to mandate testing of chinook bycatch in the pollock fishery, to find out what the sustainable number is. As it stands now, this is still the major player in the chinook fishery that is being largely given a free pass. My solution to illegal open sea gillnets is to remove the crew and scuttle ship in place.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nerka View Post
    I wish if you claim I said something you would at least get it right. The State has 30 million dollars to spend on marine issues. Nothing close to that for freshwater. So when one says nothing is being done in the marine environment they are wrong. Not sure what Palmer staff is saying but I know they have no data on freshwater production of chinook. No fry or smolt work that would provide data. So the claim by the State that is only marine would be wrong. The Yukon smolt for example are going out stressed and not good condition in some years. That results in lower marine survival but the cause is in freshwater. Nothing is being done in freshwater on the Kenai
    How do you know they have no data, if you aren't sure what they are saying? I haven't provided you the hard copies you demand, because that's exactly the source of my information; public testimony at public meetings, by Fish and Game staff, claiming they have chinook outgo numbers that show the problems are salt water.

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    Will you have to know by now some staff go way beyond their data. The only smolt studies relative to chinook and marine survival are four systems in SE. Those researchers have concluded that marine issue are significant in those systems. Trying to expand those findings to all of Alaska is a fools game but some staff have done that. It is not a responsible to do that.

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    You need to look at the big picture! You fail to look at the history of offshore fishing off the coast of Alaska. It is way cleaner than it was 20, 30, even 40 years ago. Set netters have been cut back on space and time, and so has the drift fleet. I want you to say what needs to be done! You know what the big change has been, but yet you still want to point at every thing other than what we as the state of Alaska can control. You point at the high seas boogieman! The high seas boogie man got caught with lots of salmon last year, but none of it was kings, and none of it was from Alaska. You can sink every illegal open seas gillnet ship, but it won't help the Cook Inlet kings. So now it is up to you to say what can help now, as in this year! You cry when drifters kill Coho, and want them shut out of waters that you feel will give you more fish only over escape upper Inlet streams. Only to claim the run showed up to late for your pay to play people from all over the word. Time to get real brother.
    Quote Originally Posted by willphish4food View Post
    In amongst the snark and acrimony, you did give one possible solution. And an allusion to the pink elephant in the room; offshore human interception. At the peak of the bycatch, pollock fishery recorded over 100,000 chinook, with limited tracking of origin, at best. They still catch many thousands a year, again with limited stream of origin data. Considering how many chinook fisheries statewide are currently at a very low level of return, how much of the smaller bycatch number is a result of cleaner fishing, and how much is a result of years of overcatching? My suggestion for saltwater study money is to mandate testing of chinook bycatch in the pollock fishery, to find out what the sustainable number is. As it stands now, this is still the major player in the chinook fishery that is being largely given a free pass. My solution to illegal open sea gillnets is to remove the crew and scuttle ship in place.

  9. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by MGH55 View Post
    You need to look at the big picture! You fail to look at the history of offshore fishing off the coast of Alaska. It is way cleaner than it was 20, 30, even 40 years ago. Set netters have been cut back on space and time, and so has the drift fleet. I want you to say what needs to be done! You know what the big change has been, but yet you still want to point at every thing other than what we as the state of Alaska can control. You point at the high seas boogieman! The high seas boogie man got caught with lots of salmon last year, but none of it was kings, and none of it was from Alaska. You can sink every illegal open seas gillnet ship, but it won't help the Cook Inlet kings. So now it is up to you to say what can help now, as in this year! You cry when drifters kill Coho, and want them shut out of waters that you feel will give you more fish only over escape upper Inlet streams. Only to claim the run showed up to late for your pay to play people from all over the word. Time to get real brother.
    This makes absolutely no sense. I've said what I'd like to see done in the salt to find out why the kings aren't recovering, what's your plan? I shouldn't need to repeat. The freshwater measures taken over the last 15 years have only led to the complete closure of the freshwater sport fishery this year. The state of Alaska can have a say in bycatch. It can have a say in research. Why hasn't it? So there's a cap of 60,000 chinook in the pollock fishery. I think that is way, way too high, so high to be pretty much useless. In the freshwater, why aren't we doing smolt outgo surveys, if we're not? Why is Fish and Game pulling eggs from salmon in a stream that is closed to sport fishing and in stock of concern status?

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    Just listened to Governor day he was cutting 1.6 billion from budget. Fish and Game will not be doing much research with a major budget cut. Staff will be reduced and resources will suffer. He is from the valley maybe he will leave some money for you Will but I doubt it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nerka View Post
    Just listened to Governor day he was cutting 1.6 billion from budget. Fish and Game will not be doing much research with a major budget cut. Staff will be reduced and resources will suffer. He is from the valley maybe he will leave some money for you Will but I doubt it.
    Things are going to get ugly for anybody that is a State employee. Lots of cuts are coming. Lots of folks are going to be told their jobs are going away and will be contracted out. Gotta pay for that dividend refund somehow.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nerka View Post
    Just listened to Governor day he was cutting 1.6 billion from budget. Fish and Game will not be doing much research with a major budget cut. Staff will be reduced and resources will suffer. He is from the valley maybe he will leave some money for you Will but I doubt it.
    It won't be good, I'm sure. The sport fishery we had in 2000 and dollars generated by it in the Valley and Kenai Peninsula would look mighty good right about now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by willphish4food View Post
    How do you know they have no data, if you aren't sure what they are saying? I haven't provided you the hard copies you demand, because that's exactly the source of my information; public testimony at public meetings, by Fish and Game staff, claiming they have chinook outgo numbers that show the problems are salt water.
    Quote Originally Posted by willphish4food
    Consensus amongst the folks I've talked to, who have done the smolt surveys and spawning success, is that there are good smolt migrations. Putting more smolts out is great, but the smolts aren't getting back to the rivers as adults. Perfect example of diversion.
    As someone already pointed out; if Valley F&G says smolt-outs are good, then enough adults must be getting back to spawn. But of course that is hearsay with lack of any supporting data, so we really have no idea about the health of smolt-outs. Certainly not enough to adamantly point fingers of blame elsewhere.

    Historically, these systems have been plagued with problems like poor returns and closures since I can remember - and I was fishing them before Statehood. So trying to contextualize returns in regards to the hay-days like year 2000, or using the hay-days as a basis, is not an honest evaluation of these systems. In my opinion, and historically, good returns that provide liberal sport fisheries are not the norm here. On the contrary, at best these systems are inconsistent, unpredictable, with a wide range of variables, and a host of documented problems. It is not uncommon to see inverse returns compared to other UCI systems or commercial fishing indicators. Unlike most other UCI systems, they flood and wash out, drought and heat up, endure disease, high levels of predation (pike, bears), and get blocked with beaver dams. In the last half-century they have been exposed to development, pollution, culvert blockage, habitat degradation, increased invasive species, and heavy-duty pressure from lodges, guides, and fly-outs to name a few. This has long-term consequences which we are experiencing.

    Poor returns, heavy restrictions, and closed sport fishing are what these systems are rooted in. Expecting them to consistently produce large returns and liberal sport fishing opportunity is like trying to shoot a cannon out of a canoe. I am not convinced commercial interception is the cause as willphish claims, as nothing shows it is. A contributor? Perhaps. An issue to address? Sure. But much has, and will continue to point to in-system, freshwater problems. The studies and documentation here are paramount, and where tangible improvements can focus.

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    Hi everyone. My name is Ken. I am a long time fishing guide down here in B.C.
    I was directed to this forum from a friend who mentioned theuncertainty in Alaska of why chinook stocks have collapsed. I will share someof my insight.

    In my years of being an ecology fanatic I have witnessedmany changes to my surrounding aquatic environments. Of the changes includealgae species changes, lack of organic decomposition, loss of invertebratediversity and depression of invertebrate biomass. For the last few years I havebeen researching water quality and how the changing input source [rain]chemistry effects supporting ecology in salmon streams. My research effortshave enlightened me to what has been causing the drastic depression of salmonproductivity.

    In my time I have been witness to a major food web collapsein streams. In my youth during the 1980’s it was common to see large casecarrying caddis in all local streams. It was a favorite activity of mine topull them from their cases and feed them to the trout. Back in them days Ilived on French creek which was very productive for both salmonid species andinvertebrates. Things have changed there and everywhere drastically!! One dayin the mid 1990’s while guiding steelhead on the Stamp river there was an eventwhere all the invertebrates died off. There used to be a small midge speciesthat we would always choke on when standing near the white water of the river.Then in this one day they were gone!! At the time I contacted our localbiologist to bring awareness and his reply was, “don’t worry they probably quithatching for the season. Well not only quit hatching for that season but stillhaven’t hatched ever since. When the winter high water had retreated, I noticedthat the whole river had taken on a different appearance. The stones wereabsolutely cleaned of stains or algae. It looked like bleach had run down thestream and cleaned everything off the rocks. The next summer while snorkeling Inoticed that all the other invertebrates had vanished too. Not just the midgespecies were gone but every other invertebrate like mayflies, stoneflies,caddis, snails, damsels…ect. That summer was also the first of the algae changefrom green algae to Didymo algae. Over my years of remote travel fishing andhunting I have noticed that these changes have happened to almost all B.C. streams.

    In 2015 we had a drought on the south coast and that is whenthere was a noticeable change what appeared to be a good one! The newer didymoalgae that appeared in the mid 1990’s ceased to grow, and green algae returned.While out hunting up in the mountains I seen that the green algae was now evengrowing up in the hills in the weeps coming of the mountain tops. This is whenI decided to research rain chemistry and how it effects ecology. I have beenstudying rain chemistry reports from Environment Canada and comparing them withwater quality samples from municipal water suppliers to see what changes therecould be from the 180’s to the 2000’s. I also test rain and stream watersmyself continuously. This information has given me a perfect scientificexplanation for all the ecology losses I have witnessed. For over thirty yearsthere has been a global occurrence of acid rain. Heavy amounts of sulfate havebeen deposited all over the earth. In the mid 1990’s rain pH in the lower BCcoast was averaging in the mid 4’s and often dipped into the mid 3’s. Thesulfates dissolve heavy metals from soils and mobilize them into streams wherethey damage food webs crucial for fish productivity.

    Down here in B.C. there has been total disregard for theimportance of biodiversity in food webs. Everyone seems to only believe thatlogging, overfishing and fish farm diseases have caused the collapse in salmonproductivity. I have been trying to get this field information acknowledged bythe salmon science providers who could take it farther to look at mitigation possibilities,but it falls on deft ears. For now all science is being directed by publicdemand and nobody has the initiative to even acknowledge there is a freshwaterissue.

    I could go on for days explaining the changes I have seenand why but will stop for now. If anyone of you want to look deeper into yourchinook salmon collapse I advise to look into your streams for food webstructure. If you google search “lobal insect decline” you will also see theseverity of the issue. If any of you are interested in supporting informationthat I have used to come up with my theories email me at fishmyster@shaw.caor call 250-720-5118I have also postedyoutube videos documenting the loss of ecology for major salmon streams thatused to produce but now are in crisis. Some more of this discussion can befollowed on sportfishingbc.com. Most of the discussions are of me trying to getother to understand but we live in an era where science is something you findon the computer so there is no recognition for real field evidence.

    Ken Myers

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    Fun - Fun - Your theory is plausible, but it is hard to reconcile the fact that many of the same symptoms are happening elsewhere in the State. Look no farther than Kodiak. The Karluk and the Ayakulik Rivers are located in virtual wilderness. 20 years ago they produced something close to 20,000+ adult Chinook. Not anymore. There is no harvestable surplus, and there hasn’t been any fishing for many years. It would be difficult to find better salmon habitat anywhere on the planet than on Kodiak, but the total Chinook adult returns barely break 1000 on the Ayakulik. Other rivers in the State are experiencing the same symptoms, although perhaps not to the same extent. For example, the Chinook run on the Nushagak is nowhere near what it used to be.

    None of the symptoms you describe have afflicted these watersheds, yet the collapse is being repeated across the State. But these stocks all have one thing in common - they spend their sub-adult and adult life feeding and growing in the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea. The level of by-catch by the Pollock fishery and other forms of commercial fishing might very well be causing the wide spread collapse we are seeing.

    I’m not saying that IS the answer, but in my view that theory can explain a range-wide collapse more plausibly than habitat loss that may be occurring in the Valley. And I’m not the first person on this BB to say that.


    Ken - Interesting ideas. I will give it some thought. In the meantime, welcome to this BB. We're glad you're here!

  16. #56

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    Thanks Cohoangler
    Seems like my computer doesn't like this forum program. It takes me over two minutes to type a sentence. I copied the last post from my word program and it still tweeked out and removed letters and words.

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    Cohoangler, I hope my post didn't imply that all the Chinook runs in the State were in great shape, or that marine survival and by-catch were not contributing factors.

    However, I will point out that not all our Chinook runs are in "collapse" (whatever that means in this discussion). Several, even some adjacent to these Northern District systems, continue to meet escapement goals. So while you are correct that all these stocks do spend their sub-adult and adult life feeding and growing in the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea the same, ironically they are not all affected by it similarly. Also, it would be highly unlikely that Pollock bycatch is specifically concentrated on UCI Northern District fish, and more likely that this bycatch is a conglomeration of stocks from possibly hundreds of systems, some even non-Alaskan. So while the by-catch numbers are inexcusable (although declined), I don't see how the percentage of Northern District Chinook in them (if any) could be the "cause" of it's "collapse", or any one system for that matter.

    I think it is a mistake to lump together UCI Northern District, Kodiak, Kenai, and SE systems and call it a statewide collapse. Each of these systems have their own unique identifiable production issues which I believe should be addressed individually. For example, the Northern District systems the OP is referring to in this discussion have a mountain of studies, reports, data, and conclusions evidencing obvious in-river productivity problems - pure facts. In my opinion these factual issues are tangible, making them more plausible than any non-tangible marine caused conjecture.

    Historically UCI Northern District systems have never been able to support the level of exploitation willphish4food is expecting. The heydays he references are not the norm. From the beginning of Statehood those waters have a long history of declined runs, heavy restrictions, closed fishing, and continual efforts to rebuild via closures and rehabilitation projects. In no way do I condone Chinook bycatch, but you'd think during those heydays it was because bycatch was nil, but it wasn't - it was off the charts.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fishmyster View Post
    Thanks Cohoangler
    Seems like my computer doesn't like this forum program. It takes me over two minutes to type a sentence. I copied the last post from my word program and it still tweeked out and removed letters and words.
    2,300 posts later and I still have the same problem. Cut/Paste from Word leaves words running together and weird symbols for punctuation. So I just type a reply and let it fly the way it comes out. We won't love you any less.

  19. #59

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    Extremely frustrating to view the level of documented degradation personally seen in MatSu watersheds and not have sufficient action on the plate. You bet it is not the only problem, but to put it aside is asinine. It is something that can and should be positively addressed - biggest contributor or not. Look how long ago I posted regarding Wasilla Cr. and know that little has changed and how USFWS was ignored in the Knik for blatant examples about how we treat our watersheds.

    As what to do with 30 million in the salt, were the technology advances in use elsewhere that I posted a link to a complete waste?

    This issue is going to take a wholistic approach - complete 'circling of the wagons', inclusive of climate change, salt water, fresh water, and all.
    That being said, I doubt current politics bode well for success. Lots lacking .....
    "Punish the monkey - let the organ grinder go" - Mark Knopfler

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    Quote Originally Posted by fishmyster View Post
    Hi everyone. My name is Ken. I am a long time fishing guide down here in B.C.
    I was directed to this forum from a friend who mentioned theuncertainty in Alaska of why chinook stocks have collapsed. I will share someof my insight.

    In my years of being an ecology fanatic I have witnessedmany changes to my surrounding aquatic environments. Of the changes includealgae species changes, lack of organic decomposition, loss of invertebratediversity and depression of invertebrate biomass. For the last few years I havebeen researching water quality and how the changing input source [rain]chemistry effects supporting ecology in salmon streams. My research effortshave enlightened me to what has been causing the drastic depression of salmonproductivity.

    In my time I have been witness to a major food web collapsein streams. In my youth during the 1980’s it was common to see large casecarrying caddis in all local streams. It was a favorite activity of mine topull them from their cases and feed them to the trout. Back in them days Ilived on French creek which was very productive for both salmonid species andinvertebrates. Things have changed there and everywhere drastically!! One dayin the mid 1990’s while guiding steelhead on the Stamp river there was an eventwhere all the invertebrates died off. There used to be a small midge speciesthat we would always choke on when standing near the white water of the river.Then in this one day they were gone!! At the time I contacted our localbiologist to bring awareness and his reply was, “don’t worry they probably quithatching for the season. Well not only quit hatching for that season but stillhaven’t hatched ever since. When the winter high water had retreated, I noticedthat the whole river had taken on a different appearance. The stones wereabsolutely cleaned of stains or algae. It looked like bleach had run down thestream and cleaned everything off the rocks. The next summer while snorkeling Inoticed that all the other invertebrates had vanished too. Not just the midgespecies were gone but every other invertebrate like mayflies, stoneflies,caddis, snails, damsels…ect. That summer was also the first of the algae changefrom green algae to Didymo algae. Over my years of remote travel fishing andhunting I have noticed that these changes have happened to almost all B.C. streams.

    In 2015 we had a drought on the south coast and that is whenthere was a noticeable change what appeared to be a good one! The newer didymoalgae that appeared in the mid 1990’s ceased to grow, and green algae returned.While out hunting up in the mountains I seen that the green algae was now evengrowing up in the hills in the weeps coming of the mountain tops. This is whenI decided to research rain chemistry and how it effects ecology. I have beenstudying rain chemistry reports from Environment Canada and comparing them withwater quality samples from municipal water suppliers to see what changes therecould be from the 180’s to the 2000’s. I also test rain and stream watersmyself continuously. This information has given me a perfect scientificexplanation for all the ecology losses I have witnessed. For over thirty yearsthere has been a global occurrence of acid rain. Heavy amounts of sulfate havebeen deposited all over the earth. In the mid 1990’s rain pH in the lower BCcoast was averaging in the mid 4’s and often dipped into the mid 3’s. Thesulfates dissolve heavy metals from soils and mobilize them into streams wherethey damage food webs crucial for fish productivity.

    Down here in B.C. there has been total disregard for theimportance of biodiversity in food webs. Everyone seems to only believe thatlogging, overfishing and fish farm diseases have caused the collapse in salmonproductivity. I have been trying to get this field information acknowledged bythe salmon science providers who could take it farther to look at mitigation possibilities,but it falls on deft ears. For now all science is being directed by publicdemand and nobody has the initiative to even acknowledge there is a freshwaterissue.

    I could go on for days explaining the changes I have seenand why but will stop for now. If anyone of you want to look deeper into yourchinook salmon collapse I advise to look into your streams for food webstructure. If you google search “lobal insect decline” you will also see theseverity of the issue. If any of you are interested in supporting informationthat I have used to come up with my theories email me at fishmyster@shaw.caor call 250-720-5118I have also postedyoutube videos documenting the loss of ecology for major salmon streams thatused to produce but now are in crisis. Some more of this discussion can befollowed on sportfishingbc.com. Most of the discussions are of me trying to getother to understand but we live in an era where science is something you findon the computer so there is no recognition for real field evidence.

    Ken Myers
    Thank you for this insight. Personally I've heard about the dangers of acid rain for decades. Looks like it still isn't getting the attention it really deserves.
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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