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Thread: Possible Kenai dipnet closure. . .

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    Unhappy Possible Kenai dipnet closure. . .

    Some weeks back, a couple of our local ADF&G fisheries biologists told me they expected the second run of Kenai reds to go in the tank. Today's Peninsula Clarion's headlines are "Sockeye forecast 'lousy.'" In order to make low-end escapement goals ADF&G biologist Fox says the department may implement several strategies in order to ensure escapement goals are reached. Along with restrictions on the commercial gill-net industry, ADF&G is looking at: closing the P.U. (dipnet) fishery or restricting the days it's open, "including a reduction in hours per day it's open, days per week the fishery is open, or total closure." According to Fox, restrictions also "may be applied to the in-river sport fishery. . . including reductions in the daily bag limit, numbers of hours per day anglers may fish or a total fishery closure." (For the complete article, go to www.peninsulaclarion.com)

    But there's another side to the coin. A few weeks back, a fellow who has an economic interest in the commercial king salmon sport fishery told me, "We like that forecast just fine." And well he might because restrictions on the sockeye fishery, especially restrictions on the commercial gill-nets, will certainly mean a greater percentage of the second-run of kings will enter the river. Welcome to the fish politics of the Kenai River.

    By way of background, the second runs of sockeye and kings run concurrently, and thus some kings are caught in commercial nets set for sockeye. Historically, commercial gill-nets (mostly set-nets) and the sport fishery (the most of which is commercial too) split the harvestable surplus of the second run of kings — about 25% each, more or less. Economically, the sockeye run is of immensely greater importance to the area's economy than is the much smaller commercial king salmon sport fishery.

    But as has been argued on this forum, there are some — essentially those who are addicted to fishing for big fish and those who have an economic interest in king fishing — who have lobbied loudly for what we'll see this year: a diminution of commercial gill-netting so that more kings can be at the disposal of the sport fishery, e.g., trophy fishing, c&r, etc. In order to get more kings away from the gill-nets and into the sport fishery, the nets must be on the beach.

    The easiest way to restrict the nets is to lobby for higher escapements, leaving fewer fish for the nets, putting more reds in the river, and to this effort, the "more-king lobby" is very vocal, very political, and very, very well-funded. The problem with more and more and more reds in the river by means of ever-increasing escapement goals is that area biologists believe we'll reach, indeed may have already reached, a point of diminishing returns. Too many fry simply eat themselves out of house and home resulting in smaller, fewer fish for the ensuing return — something we're seeing this year?

    Hope that's clear so far. Much, much more can be said and no doubt will be. If you're a sockeye fisherman or dipnetter, keep tuned in and try to get your fish early because things don't look good. The phone number of our local ADF&G office is 262-9368. If you're a king fisherman, you've got a brighter outlook even though area's economy will suffer if we experience a small return of sockeye.

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    Default

    But as has been argued on this forum, there are some — essentially those who are addicted to fishing for big fish and those who have an economic interest in king fishing — who have lobbied loudly for what we'll see this year: a diminution of commercial gill-netting so that more kings can be at the disposal of the sport fishery, e.g., trophy fishing, c&r, etc. In order to get more kings away from the gill-nets and into the sport fishery, the nets must be on the beach.

    A mischaracterization at best, possibly an innocent misuderstanding, or outright false propaganda at worst.

    Come now, Marcus....

    Fish managers worship at the feet of maximum sockeye harvest, often to the detriment of other subservient species ( e.g. late run Kenai kings, late run Kasilof kings, early run Kenai silvers). As long as the minimum late run chinook BEG of 17.8 K will be met, it's full steam ahead for the sockeye slayers.

    Unless of course it's the sockeye themselves that are in trouble... as they may well be this year.

    The sockeye conservation measures that managers are contemplating in the article have NOTHING to do with putting more kings in the river. To insinuate otherwise is disingenuous. Any restrictions to the sockeye fishery will be aimed at getting enough sockeye to the spawning grounds to meet the lower end BEG of 650K.

    The one season that the late king run finally gets a break from years of intense netting effort, sometimes 24 hours a day for days at time, and you make it sound like some grand conspiracy. Get real!

    If the forecast comes true, the sockeye run is in trouble this year. They need a break, so give it a break. In the meantime, count your blessings.... you might even consider getting out there and wetting a line for what might be a bumper crop of late kings.

    I can't wait. Wanna join me?
    "Let every angler who loves to fish think what it would mean to him to find the fish were gone."
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    Red face Please don't misunderstand me. . .

    Quote Originally Posted by fishNphysician
    But as has been argued on this forum, there are some — essentially those who are addicted to fishing for big fish and those who have an economic interest in king fishing — who have lobbied loudly for what we'll see this year: a diminution of commercial gill-netting so that more kings can be at the disposal of the sport fishery, e.g., trophy fishing, c&r, etc. In order to get more kings away from the gill-nets and into the sport fishery, the nets must be on the beach.

    A mischaracterization at best, possibly an innocent misuderstanding, or outright false propaganda at worst.

    The sockeye conservation measures that managers are contemplating in the article have NOTHING to do with putting more kings in the river. To insinuate otherwise is disingenuous. Any restrictions to the sockeye fishery will be aimed at getting enough sockeye to the spawning grounds to meet the lower end BEG of 650K.

    The one season that the late king run finally gets a break from years of intense netting effort, sometimes 24 hours a day for days at time, and you make it sound like some grand conspiracy. Get real!

    If the forecast comes true, the sockeye run is in trouble this year. They need a break, so give it a break. In the meantime, count your blessings.... you might even consider getting out there and wetting a line for what might be a bumper crop of late kings.

    I can't wait. Wanna join me?

    Doc, please don't misunderstand me. I know that any restrictions on the sockeye fishery this year are necessary to protect the run and not the result of "some grand conspiracy." I merely noted that such restrictions have been lobbied for by special interest groups and that they'll result in more kings for the sport fishery, less for the gill-net fishery. Nothing more. Nor is a factual recounting of past allocation controversy to be considered "propaganda." Is it possible that the second run of sockeye is in trouble because of too many fish on the redds, too much escapement?

    Consider the following from the ADN op ed., 12/16/'04 by the chairman of the board of a powerful, local sport fishing advocacy group:
    "[We advocate]. . . that all Kenai Peninsula watersheds receive an adequate return of salmon so our rivers are seeded as they were prior to the influx of commercial fishing. There is growing evidence that proves putting more spawners in the watersheds produces more fish for everyone." Is such the case this year? More fish for everyone or more fish for just some?

    All I'm pointing out is the nature of past controversy and politics — the benefits to whom and the costs to the area's economy. Sheesh, give me a break.

    And if you're serious about "Wanna join me?", I greatly appreciate the offer but need to decline. It's just not my cup of tea. I'd be happy though to buy you a drink on the back deck instead.
    Last edited by Marcus; 07-02-2006 at 12:35.

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    I have resisted joining this dialog simply because of my occupation (percieved special intrest). Indeed, I am a conservationist. I understand the management scheme from a biological perspective; that is the escapement goal and the harvesting of the surplus. It has never been in doubt that the sockeye are managed for the commercial harvest, and that at a prospective sustainable yield.

    Now, Marcus, your implication regarding over escapement being the cause of diminishing return certainly has validity, however I believe its veracity from a different perspective.

    For many years, the biologists have documented an increase in turbidity in Skilak lake, which lowers the light penetration, which diminishes the zooplankton, the primary food source for the young sockeye, and thus reduces the carrying capacity of the rearing grounds. So, because of a habitat/food source problem, a real overescapement problem has occured... not because of mismanagement, political pressure, or underharvesting from a practical sense.

    This dimished return has been forcasted for many years and is not a sudden surprise.

    Let me be very clear; as a guide, do I want more kings in the river? You bet I do. Do I want that at the detriment to the river or demise of other important user groups? Absolutely not. I would gladly give up harvesting kings, sockeye or any other fish species if that meant the preservation of that resource for the future. Just catch a resident fish on my boat and you will hear about the importance of releasing that fish to preserve the resident population. I do remember the days of catch and keep any resident fish of any size. I am totally not offended by the restrictions (though I don't understand the harvest of the smaller fish; i.e. less than either 18" or 16" depending on the location... eventually, I believe, we will see consequences from keeping the smaller fish).

    I absolutely feel the same way about hunting (as a hunter). Being a 30+ year resident of Soldotna, with work history in the commercial fishing industry as well as the sport fishing industry, I have seen these cycles of ups and downs for as long as there has been fishing. I have seen very warm summers increase the sediment in the lakes, crashing the runs 5 years down the road and floods scouring the spawning beds doing likewise. Will we see the sockeye runs return back to normal... sure... I have endured mismanagement, over management, undermanagement, and yet the fish seem to be on their own agenda.

    Indeed, do I believe that the sockeye restrictions this year to be politically or economically ($ that is) driven? Absolutely not! I see the biologists, using their data, knowledge and experience, doing whatever it takes to ensure a sustainable yield. Will this result in an increase of sport caught king salmon? Possibly. Why is that a bad thing?

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    Unhappy Give me a break. . .

    It has never been in doubt that the sockeye are managed for the commercial harvest, and that at a prospective sustainable yield.
    The sockeye are indeed managed with a commercial harvest in mind but not to the exclusion of escapement or sport harvest.
    Now, Marcus, your implication regarding over escapement being the cause of diminishing return certainly has validity, however I believe its veracity from a different perspective.
    No, I implied nothing whatever you might have inferred. I asked whether this years sockeye woes could have been brought on by overescapement.
    For many years, the biologists have documented an increase in turbidity in Skilak lake, which lowers the light penetration, which diminishes the zooplankton, the primary food source for the young sockeye, and thus reduces the carrying capacity of the rearing grounds. So, because of a habitat/food source problem, a real overescapement problem has occured... not because of mismanagement, political pressure, or underharvesting from a practical sense.
    I agree that carrying capacity has been reduced for the reasons you mention. So have escapement goals gone up or down over the last couple BoF sessions? Should we now reduce escapement goals?
    This dimished return has been forcasted for many years and is not a sudden surprise.
    Let me be very clear; as a guide, do I want more kings in the river? You bet I do. Do I want that at the detriment to the river or demise of other important user groups? Absolutely not. I would gladly give up harvesting kings, sockeye or any other fish species if that meant the preservation of that resource for the future. Just catch a resident fish on my boat and you will hear about the importance of releasing that fish to preserve the resident population. I do remember the days of catch and keep any resident fish of any size. I am totally not offended by the restrictions (though I don't understand the harvest of the smaller fish; i.e. less than either 18" or 16" depending on the location... eventually, I believe, we will see consequences from keeping the smaller fish).
    I absolutely feel the same way about hunting (as a hunter). Being a 30+ year resident of Soldotna, with work history in the commercial fishing industry as well as the sport fishing industry, I have seen these cycles of ups and downs for as long as there has been fishing. I have seen very warm summers increase the sediment in the lakes, crashing the runs 5 years down the road and floods scouring the spawning beds doing likewise. Will we see the sockeye runs return back to normal... sure... I have endured mismanagement, over management, undermanagement, and yet the fish seem to be on their own agenda.
    Indeed, do I believe that the sockeye restrictions this year to be politically or economically ($ that is) driven?

    Nor do I believe nor did I say that the sockeye restrictions this year are politically or economically driven. Re-read my post. What I did say is that this year's sockeye restrictions are congruent with past sport-fish lobbying efforts and that this year's restrictions will have economic consequences for the area's economy.
    Absolutely not! I see the biologists, using their data, knowledge and experience, doing whatever it takes to ensure a sustainable yield. Will this result in an increase of sport caught king salmon? Possibly. Why is that a bad thing?
    Nor did I say or imply that it was. What I did say was that a restricted sockeye fishery has negative implications for the areas economy. Give me a break. . .

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    Default The Master Plan

    Here's the blueprint for this year's gillnetting strategy:

    http://www.cf.adfg.state.ak.us/regio...e_strategy.pdf

    Interesting read. We'll see how it all unfolds.
    "Let every angler who loves to fish think what it would mean to him to find the fish were gone."
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    Question Over-escapement buzzword

    This thread mentioned something I've seen mentioned in other posts over the last couple years: Over-escapement. I would like to learn more about it.

    I hear often from some people that if the commercial nets and sports anglers don't harvest enough sockeye that there will be an "over-escapment" problem. It seems that the river's sockeye did just fine for eons without our limiting the number of fish that make it to the spawning beds. Is this over-escapement idea valid?

    The population of returning adult sockeye is going to fluctuate. Over time, natural fluctuations caused by things like floods or a large population of fry as a result of an exceptional spawn are not unusual. If there fewer juveniles due to flood, they eat better. If there are more due to a large spawning, some starve (survival of the fittest, which is good) and some feed the lake trout, rainbows and dollies (also good).

    The river has always maintained itself, even though there were likely some incredible, unbelieveable numbers of sockeye on the spawning grounds some years. It isn't like we're supplementing mother nature by hatchery stocking additional sockeye into the river, thereby contributing to an unnaturally large return of fish or introducing weak genetics or new diseases. So why do some of us say we need to limit the number of sockeye salmon that spawn in the Kenai? I look forward to your comments.

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    Wink Banning biology?

    Holy Moly. . . where's a good biologist when we need one? Or even a legislator?

    First, the notion of giving up resource management is incredibly silly. Most Alaska hunters believe we currently have an "overescapement" of wolves in the state that need to be managed. Does anyone actually believe we should give up wildlife resource management and just let 'er rip as it did for eons?

    Second, the state's constitution mandates that wildlife resources be managed for [maximum] sustained yield. Without management efforts on the part of trained professionals, wildlife resources would regress to the wildly fluctuating populations of more primitive times.

    Overescapement is a real concern. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand that 1000 acres will support only so many cattle at sustained yield. Moreover, while overescapement is a consideration for fisheries biologists the world over and in terms of which all the state's fisheries are managed, only here on the Kenai/Kasilof Rivers are some furrowing their thoughtful brows and asking, "Is this over-escapement idea valid?"

    It's a fact that if overescapement could be done away with, somehow discredited, that would open the door to letting the entire runs of sockeye up the Kenai and Kasilof Rivers along with 100% of the accompanying kings. Hammer time. . .

    Now I have a couple questions in return:
    1) Why would we do such a thing? Give up management for sustained yield which would in turn decimate the gill-net industry, deny consumers harvestable fish resources, and threaten the area's economic base?
    2) What percentage of the second run of kings is a "fair" allotment for the sport fishery? How many is enough?

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    Exclamation Some corrections to the data

    Nphyscian posted the following:

    Fish managers worship at the feet of maximum sockeye harvest, often to the detriment of other subservient species ( e.g. late run Kenai kings, late run Kasilof kings, early run Kenai silvers). As long as the minimum late run chinook BEG of 17.8 K will be met, it's full steam ahead for the sockeye slayers.

    This is not a true statement. If you look at the escapements of sockeye into the Kenai River they tend not to be in the goal range historically. They tend to be higher. This is because fishery managers balance the various run strengths. To imply that this has been detrimental to late run chinook, late run Kasilof kings, and coho is just insulting to those who managed the fishery for the last 46 years. Please provide me with one bit of evidence that these runs have been hurt biologically. The only run in trouble is the early run chinook mainstem spawners due to sport fishing activity - there is no commercial fishery.

    Relative to the fun steam ahead comment - that also is not true. The management plans restrict the number of hours that can be fished in a week and provide for closed periods. The Commissioner can over-ride these plans via emergency orders but has not done so with "full steam"

    The sockeye conservation measures that managers are contemplating in the article have NOTHING to do with putting more kings in the river. To insinuate otherwise is disingenuous. Any restrictions to the sockeye fishery will be aimed at getting enough sockeye to the spawning grounds to meet the lower end BEG of 650K.

    This is incorrect. The BEG is 500,000 to 800,000 sockeye salmon. The sonar count of 650K includes a sport fish harvest of 150,000 fish above the counter. So if the ADF&G reaches 650,000 then the sport fishery above the bridge will go forward as normal. Restrictions below the sonar counter at river mile 19 may be necessary in all fisheries to reach the 650,000. Read the management plan and you will see that the goal range includes this sport fish harvest. Thus the actions taken in the dip net fishery, below the sonar counter sport fishery, and commercial fishery to meet the 650,000 goal is to provide for escapements and sport fish harvest above the counters at river mile 19.

    Finally, the actions of the Board of Fish to raise the goals on sockeye are directly related to the chinook salmon fishery. The upper end of the sockeye goal was put in place to reduce fishing time for sockeye in the hope of putting more chinook in the river. This happened at the 1999 Board meeting. The Board created the concept of an optimum goal at this meeting instead of a maximum sustained yield goal for sockeye salmon to acheive this purpose.

    The lower sockeye goal was raised at the 2005 Board meeting to allow the sport fishery for sockeye to continue in poor runs. The only problem this was based on false information. The fishery had not grown and this raise in the lower end could not be supported with the harvest data. Instead, everyone knew that this was another back door attempt to reduce commercial fishing time for assumed chinook salmon entry. The Board did pass it under the sockeye justification but one cannot defend that action based on the data.

    I am not a commercial fisherman but feel that forums should have the correct information for good decision making. I am not taking any sides in the allocaiton battle as I feel that there is plently of fish for everyone.

    Today, more than 90 percent of the coho salmon in Upper Cook Inlet enters the freshwaters of the inlet, more than 90 percent of the chum salmon do, more than 90 percent of the chinook salmon (when you add in Susitna, 75% of the Kenai River late run), and about 60-70 percent of the sockeye salmon. I do not think that this allocation battle is doing anyone any good except those who like to fight or want it all.

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    Unhappy Disparaging biology. . .

    Well said, nerka, and thanks for clearing the air. It was most disturbing to hear someone speak so disparagingly of ADF&G biologists: "Fish managers worship at the feet of maximum sockeye harvest, often to the detriment of other subservient species ( e.g. late run Kenai kings, late run Kasilof kings, early run Kenai silvers)."

    Am still waiting for anyone to answer my questions:
    1) Why would we do such a thing? Give up management for sustained yield which would in turn decimate the gill-net industry, deny consumers harvestable fish resources, and threaten the area's economic base?
    2) What percentage of the second run of kings is a "fair" allotment for the sport fishery? How many is enough?

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