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Thread: 2019 Cook Inlet Salmon Management

  1. #1

    Default 2019 Cook Inlet Salmon Management

    I'd like to hear folks opinion on how Cook Inlet salmon fishery was managed this year, now that its about over. Cook Inlet may be the most difficult and contentious fishery in the state. I feel like we wasted an enormous amount of the sockeye resource based on the huge over escapement in both the Kenai and Kasilof Rivers. We're struggling to meet King Salmon escapement yet the river never went any further than no bait restriction. Tools were not utilized to harvest sockeye, but not kings. I think there was 1 half mile opener and 1 600' opener.
    Anyone care to share their opinion on how things could have been done differently? I am not criticizing fish and game to be clear. Its a horribly difficult job to be sure and hind sight is 100% of course. But maybe ideas for improvement could be shared.

  2. #2
    Member cdubbin's Avatar
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    Kasilof has not had any overescapement....still below the threshold of the OEG....
    "– Gas boats are bad enough, autos are an invention of the devil, and airplanes are worse." ~Allen Hasselborg

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    Rick Green is bragging that Cook Inlet is “fixed”. Says that was a priority for Dunleavy.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by AKBC View Post
    Rick Green is bragging that Cook Inlet is “fixed”. Says that was a priority for Dunleavy.
    It's" fixed" alright. And Rick Green will wish he still had his talk show soon, when Alaskans show Dunleavy the door.

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    Just for clarification my comment is not personal but a professional evaluation. Here are my concerns. 1. This is the first time a Commissioner has basically managed the fishery and over ruled local staff. That has a number of consequences. First it negates the Area management concept and move major decisions to Juneau. Next it demoralizes the staff and reduced them to pawns. It also means a Commissioner with little to no management experience in UCI is making critical calls without understanding the complex nature of UCI regulatory history. 2. This is the first Commissioner that is making calls to favor one user group over another - in short allocating fish outside the allocation plans of the Board of Fish. 3. The Commissioner in-season decisions have resulted in significant large escapements in both the Kasilof and Kenai River. Those lost yields were made with only consideration to chinook salmon goals and little to no consideration to sockeye goals. Not selectively fishing the Kasilof terminal area is just one example. Not allowing set nets to fish a few hours when the catch would have been over 100,000 sockeye for less than 100 chinook was a bad decision. While one plan says the set net fishery shall close the Brown decision and UCI umbrella plan allows that plan to be ignored when balancing two escapement goals. The lack of any concern for the loss of yield for sockeye is a mistake. Remember the chinook goal is a yield goal not a biological issue. So in summary it is the bad precedents set this year I object too. The idea a Commissioner can come in and fix UCI after 4 decades of public prepared plans is a little off target. The Department to maintain public trust must have the public believe the Department is not allocating fish and is trying to balance competing goals. That is why the Area concept is so important. Local staff from the Divisions know the pitfalls.

    This Commissioner is fixing UCI by driving the commercial fishery to economic collapse for no real benefit. The Commissioner elected to put 3-5 million dollars up the Kenai River for a saving of Kenai chinook of less than 400 fish. I believe good management would have harvested some sockeye when they were thick on the beach and the chinook catch would have been minimal The Commissioner also kept the drift fleet in the corridor to move coho through to Susitna. The problem is that Susitna coho are already through the district when he made the call. Based on where the goals are he gets an D for management and an F for building public trust.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nerka View Post
    Just for clarification my comment is not personal but a professional evaluation. Here are my concerns. 1. This is the first time a Commissioner has basically managed the fishery and over ruled local staff. That has a number of consequences. First it negates the Area management concept and move major decisions to Juneau. Next it demoralizes the staff and reduced them to pawns. It also means a Commissioner with little to no management experience in UCI is making critical calls without understanding the complex nature of UCI regulatory history. 2. This is the first Commissioner that is making calls to favor one user group over another - in short allocating fish outside the allocation plans of the Board of Fish. 3. The Commissioner in-season decisions have resulted in significant large escapements in both the Kasilof and Kenai River. Those lost yields were made with only consideration to chinook salmon goals and little to no consideration to sockeye goals. Not selectively fishing the Kasilof terminal area is just one example. Not allowing set nets to fish a few hours when the catch would have been over 100,000 sockeye for less than 100 chinook was a bad decision. While one plan says the set net fishery shall close the Brown decision and UCI umbrella plan allows that plan to be ignored when balancing two escapement goals. The lack of any concern for the loss of yield for sockeye is a mistake. Remember the chinook goal is a yield goal not a biological issue. So in summary it is the bad precedents set this year I object too. The idea a Commissioner can come in and fix UCI after 4 decades of public prepared plans is a little off target. The Department to maintain public trust must have the public believe the Department is not allocating fish and is trying to balance competing goals. That is why the Area concept is so important. Local staff from the Divisions know the pitfalls.

    This Commissioner is fixing UCI by driving the commercial fishery to economic collapse for no real benefit. The Commissioner elected to put 3-5 million dollars up the Kenai River for a saving of Kenai chinook of less than 400 fish. I believe good management would have harvested some sockeye when they were thick on the beach and the chinook catch would have been minimal The Commissioner also kept the drift fleet in the corridor to move coho through to Susitna. The problem is that Susitna coho are already through the district when he made the call. Based on where the goals are he gets an D for management and an F for building public trust.
    Thank You for sharing your evaluation. I couldn't agree more.

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    If Kings hadn't been over fished in the river the past 3 or so decades, we would be having decent returns now, and setnet commercial fishing wouldn't need drastic restrictions to help get a few more Kings up the river. Guides targeting Kings should have been reduced to a fraction of the current numbers a LONG time ago. The Kenai should have gone to drift only fishing for Kings years ago. Watch for more in river restrictions in the future, and smaller returns of Kings. Smaller Kings also. The Kings are screwed. Have been for a many years. Slot limits were a poor attempt to try to get a few big Kings to spawn. Didn't work. None of the recent rules have helped much. Too little, too late. The writing has been on the wall for a long time, but has been mostly ignored. They're done. You might see a year or 2 of decent returns in the future, (along with a lot of hand wringing and wailing) but my bet is on a continuing downward spiral of our once great King fishery.
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    My bet is that extreme measures will be taken for Kenai Kings in the future. And I mean EXTREME measures. Wait and see. There will be a lot of screaming by everyone. Sadly it will be way too late. I think it already is, but that's just my opinion.
    Hunt Ethically. Respect the Environment.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by SmokeRoss View Post
    If Kings hadn't been over fished in the river the past 3 or so decades, we would be having decent returns now, and setnet commercial fishing wouldn't need drastic restrictions to help get a few more Kings up the river. Guides targeting Kings should have been reduced to a fraction of the current numbers a LONG time ago. The Kenai should have gone to drift only fishing for Kings years ago. Watch for more in river restrictions in the future, and smaller returns of Kings. Smaller Kings also. The Kings are screwed. Have been for a many years. Slot limits were a poor attempt to try to get a few big Kings to spawn. Didn't work. None of the recent rules have helped much. Too little, too late. The writing has been on the wall for a long time, but has been mostly ignored. They're done. You might see a year or 2 of decent returns in the future, (along with a lot of hand wringing and wailing) but my bet is on a continuing downward spiral of our once great King fishery.
    Care to explain how hatchery kings have struggled in coming back to the freshwater rivers in UCI? Is it too many sport fisherman catching the outgoing fry? How about explaining the Nelson River struggling with their king returns when there’s zero sport fishing.

    There are no easy answers to the UCI and statewide king decline.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SmokeRoss View Post
    If Kings hadn't been over fished in the river the past 3 or so decades, we would be having decent returns now, and setnet commercial fishing wouldn't need drastic restrictions to help get a few more Kings up the river. Guides targeting Kings should have been reduced to a fraction of the current numbers a LONG time ago. The Kenai should have gone to drift only fishing for Kings years ago. Watch for more in river restrictions in the future, and smaller returns of Kings. Smaller Kings also. The Kings are screwed. Have been for a many years. Slot limits were a poor attempt to try to get a few big Kings to spawn. Didn't work. None of the recent rules have helped much. Too little, too late. The writing has been on the wall for a long time, but has been mostly ignored. They're done. You might see a year or 2 of decent returns in the future, (along with a lot of hand wringing and wailing) but my bet is on a continuing downward spiral of our once great King fishery.
    I’m curious if you know what the harvest rate has been for both the early and late Kenai king runs?

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by penguin View Post
    Care to explain how hatchery kings have struggled in coming back to the freshwater rivers in UCI? Is it too many sport fisherman catching the outgoing fry? How about explaining the Nelson River struggling with their king returns when there’s zero sport fishing.

    There are no easy answers to the UCI and statewide king decline.
    Not implying that sportfishing is responsible for any decline in Nelso River chinook stocks, but would like to point out there are two sportfishing lodges on this relatively small river,plus other fly in outfits. Therefore, there is not zero sportfishing on the nelson river.

  12. #12

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    Excellent post above by nerka but I think he is being conservative in the ammount of lost yield. If you use the midrange of escapement goals for the kenai and kasilof, an additional 625,000 sockeye could have been harvested at an average value of $10.00 each. With the chinook concerns,the drift fleet could (and should) have had additional opportunity to harvest the surplus sockeye with minimal, almost nonexistic impact on chinooks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gunner View Post
    With the chinook concerns,the drift fleet could (and should) have had additional opportunity to harvest the surplus sockeye with minimal, almost nonexistic impact on chinooks.
    Sorry... there is NO FREE LUNCH in a fully allocated mixed stock fishery. UCI is already K/K-centric to the nth degree. Unleashing the drift fleet on those foregone 625K would have CRUSHED the Northern District escapements for multiple salmonid species.
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  14. #14

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    [QUOTE=fishNphysician;1669399]Sorry... there is NO FREE LUNCH in a fully allocated mixed stock fishery. UCI is already K/K-centric to the nth degree. Unleashing the drift fleet on those foregone 625K would have CRUSHED the Nortrn District escapements for multiple salmonid species.[/QUOTE



    Additional expanded corridor, traditional corridor or area 1 areas could have been utilized to minimize harvest of returns to the environmentally impacted systems of the northern district.

  15. #15

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    Doc, if allowing the kenai river sport fishery to continue to target kings when escapement goals are not being reached is not a "free lunch" then I don't know what is.

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    Quote Originally Posted by penguin View Post
    Care to explain how hatchery kings have struggled in coming back to the freshwater rivers in UCI? Is it too many sport fisherman catching the outgoing fry? How about explaining the Nelson River struggling with their king returns when there’s zero sport fishing.

    There are no easy answers to the UCI and statewide king decline.
    I didn't say squat about hatchery Kings.
    Hunt Ethically. Respect the Environment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by aktally View Post
    I’m curious if you know what the harvest rate has been for both the early and late Kenai king runs?
    Too many. Plus the stress of catch and release. I know the studies say only a small percentage of Kings die after C&R, but when the study sample is on your boat, you will do all you can to get that fish in quickly, keep it in the water, and release it correctly. The study does not take into account the tourist that snags one and fights it for an hour or more, drags it out of the water for a bunch of pics and then dumps it back in. Those fish die. Every time.
    Hunt Ethically. Respect the Environment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SmokeRoss View Post
    If Kings hadn't been over fished in the river the past 3 or so decades, we would be having decent returns now, and setnet commercial fishing wouldn't need drastic restrictions to help get a few more Kings up the river.
    Quote Originally Posted by SmokeRoss View Post
    Too many. Plus the stress of catch and release. I know the studies say only a small percentage of Kings die after C&R, but when the study sample is on your boat, you will do all you can to get that fish in quickly, keep it in the water, and release it correctly. The study does not take into account the tourist that snags one and fights it for an hour or more, drags it out of the water for a bunch of pics and then dumps it back in. Those fish die. Every time.
    You say that the kings have been overfished and when asked if you know the harvest rate you reply "too many". How many is too many? Do you know what a sustainable harvest rate is for king salmon? Do you know how many times the late-run king salmon escapement goal has not been met? If the escapement goal is achieved, has the stock been over fished?
    I'm asking these questions because it is important in understanding the decline in production of Kenai River king salmon.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gunner View Post
    It's" fixed" alright. And Rick Green will wish he still had his talk show soon, when Alaskans show Dunleavy the door.
    Fixed? There it is again fix Cook Inlet who fixed it? Some contractors? You have to be kidding. If you value the environment salmon live which includes the water in Cook Inlet Yes the door is wide open for them to leave.

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    Quote Originally Posted by aktally View Post
    You say that the kings have been overfished and when asked if you know the harvest rate you reply "too many". How many is too many? Do you know what a sustainable harvest rate is for king salmon? Do you know how many times the late-run king salmon escapement goal has not been met? If the escapement goal is achieved, has the stock been over fished?
    I'm asking these questions because it is important in understanding the decline in production of Kenai River king salmon.
    It doesn't take a mental giant to know these Kings have been over fished. I've been here since 1980. I remember the days of big Kings, and they were abundant. Along comes an ever increasing guided sport fishery and the numbers begin dropping as does the size. Every year. Effort increases, King numbers decrease. Sure they have likely had problems in the ocean also, but to continue to put more fishermen on the spawning beds has not helped.
    If you want to compare harvest rates, look them up yourself. In my opinion whatever someone thinks is sustainable is their own opinion. It's obvious to me that what is happening now, and in the past 20 plus years is not working. Todays escapement goals (again my opinion) are too low, and too late. The days when you could take your mom out on the river and have her boat a 75 pound King are gone. Hell if someone catches a 50 pounder these days it's likely to make the front page of the news paper. My largest King was 85 pounds. A lot of years ago. Early 80's. When was the last time you heard of someone bagging one like that? They're gone. Mismanaged. They won't be back.
    Hunt Ethically. Respect the Environment.

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