The Results of Overescapement. . .
Now that the commercial gill-net fishery for Kenai sockeye is closed, the Kenaitze educational fishery is closed, the Alaska resident personal use fishery is closed, and the sport fishery reduced to (a hypocritical?) one-fish a day limit, we'll want to know why? Why have Alaska's Board of Fisheries and ADF&G managers failed in their mission to provide a sustained yield from the second run of Kenai sockeye? Why is there virtually no yield from the second-run Kenai sockeye return this year?
There is no yield this year because more fish were allowed to "escape" into the ecosystem than the ecosystem is capable of supporting and producing a sustained yield. Today's Peninsula Clarion (7/20/06) reports United Cook Inlet Drift Association president Steve Tvenstrup as saying "he believes too many fish have been allowed to spawn in recent years, straining food sources for salmon fry and harming the fishery." Tvenstrup went on to say the problem will not end anytime soon — "I think this is a long-term problem. We put too many fish into the system and the system crashed."
Anchorage Daily News writer Craig Medred reports in today's ADN (7/20/06) : "With turbitity up 65 percent, researchers have reported an 50 percent drop in the biomass zooplankton — the main food source for red salmon fry." In other words, too many fish have eaten themselves out of house and home. Medred continues: "Biologists believe the stunted fish have a lesser chance of survival in the ocean."
So here we are with no "sustained yield" from the fishery, in fact, with virtually no yield at all because of trying to put bigger escapements into the system than the system can support and produce a sustained yield. Perhaps now those wondering whether "overescapement" is real and those wanting the nets on the beach so they can get more kings into the river for their personal and commercial exploitation will realize the results of short-sighted, naive, and politicized fishery management.
Or....it is just the natural cycle of the fish. Like the arcticle in the Clarion pointed out "we have been here before in 1998." Excuse me if I don't really buy the argument that commercial guys should just be allowed to fish more and everthing else will be fine. I have been fishing that river for 25 years and have seen good years and bad years. I'm there is plenty of you out there that have been fishing longer that me that have the same observation. Management is not an exact science but if you consider how much pressure is put on the fish, it is a wonder they come back at all. There is NO way me and the sport fishing boys can whipe out a salmon run with our fishing poles, but we are always the last on the list. The Kenai is managed for commercial harvest FIRST, the rest of us get what is left over. Don't get me wrong, I understand we are talking about people's livelyhood, but fish are at best unpredictable. Blaming fish and game won't help you, if you want to have more control over the harvest, move to Iowa and grow corn.
Can someone explain what Tvenstrup meant by "We put to many fish in the system and the system crashed"? The reds in the Kenai are naturally reproduced aren't they? Are you saying that wild stocks can't thrive without man intervening and reducing their numbers? Article said "With turbity up 65%, researchers have reported an 50% drop in the biomass zoo-plankton", you said " in other words, too many fish have eaten themselves out of house and home", are you kidding? Do you really not see why the researchers said in their report that turbidity was up?
Game populations will naturally boom and bust. What the bio's attempt to do is flatten out that cycle to provide relatively consistant high runs year to year.
Give him a call . . .
The telephone number of UCIDA (United Cook Inlet Drift Association) is 907-260-9436. You could try calling and asking Mr. Tvenstrup personally.
Originally Posted by Bearbait 1
Exactly. . .
Exactly, right on, Paul — that's what's called Sustained Yield. Why is that so difficult for some to understand? Competing economics? What?
Originally Posted by Paul H
I have to agree with SockeyeOrange, this makes way more sense to me than trying to point the finger at Fish and Game.
Originally Posted by SockeyOrange
Comments like move to Iowa and grow corn provide no susstance, especially when the writer does not understand fundemental scientific principles of fisheries management.
I live in the Kenai/Soldotna community and my grandkids live here. I want them to have opportunities to enjoy the outdoors and abundance of resources as I have done over the last 30 years. However, name calling does no good either.
Let me explain from ADF&G studies how the Kenai River produces sockeye salmon and you can take it from there - a number of scientific papers have been published on this topic First, listening to Medred and the president of UCIDA is a waste of time - they have no training or understanding of this complex issue. They also both have agendas.
The Kenai River produces most of the sockeye in Skilak Lake - 70-80%. This glacial lake has only a single major food source for sockeye - a small shrimp like critter called a copepod. These copepods produce one batch of young a year that comes into the lake in July. The adults only live for two years so not many of them are around the second year. Sockeye juveniles enter the lake in May from the spawning gravels and rear in the open waters of the lake. Sockeye smolt preparing to leave the lake (from the previous year spawn) are also in the lake in May and early June. Thus two populations of fish are there at the same time for a short period. Sockeye like to eat the egg bearing female copepods - they are bigger and easy to get.
So here is the cycle and the issue - The copepods come into the lake in July - if large numbers of sockeye fry are present (30-40 million) then they start to consume those copepods and do so up to winter. They need 10% body fat to overwinter. Next spring as they prepare to leave they are still eating on the copepods from the previous summer( new group does not come into the lake until July). The number of copepods goes down and here comes new fry from the spawning grounds. They also are eating on the same copepods. However, they have a problem - smaller fish do not complete well with larger fish. In some years because of the larger number of smolt there is not enough food to support lots of fry in the spring so they die at a higher rate. Those that survive are also smaller since food is limiting. Smaller fish have less body fat and do not survive overwinter. A good fry size is 1.5-2.0 grams, those in Skilak Lake in recent years have been 0.5 grams. They come into the lake at 0.3grans so you can see they are not doing well.
So regardless of turbidity when large numbers of fry are produced the fry from the next year survive at a lower level. This can happen at escapements of 500,000 but the probability of it happening goes up with larger escapements. For the record, the escapements that created this return were in the 600,000 range.
A model developed by ADF&G demostrates this very well - so the cycle is natural to a point. However, if managers consistenly put large escapements in the system then the probability of run failure increases as the probability of producing large numbers of fry that consume the food resource increases. This is all called brood year interaction. In fact, researchers at ADF&G Soldotna office have received good marks for this work in the field of sockeye biology.
Now where does glacial warming come into play. The lake turbidity has been reduced in recent years and this has reduced the amount of light reaching the depths of the lake. In past years light would go into the lake about 8 meters. These past years that has been reduced to 4 meters. The amount of light penetration relates to plant production which is eaten by the copepods. So as food comes down so do copepod numbers that come into the lake and survive in July. So two pressures are on the copepods - feeding by sockeye and less food. The numbers go down and this just makes the problem worse for the next year fry.
Now the good news. The system will recover if the fry eating pressure is removed for short periods. This is what happened in the past without a fishery. The system would have great highs and very low lows. The system in the lows would recharge. We cannot do much about the glacial melting issue but last years return of 5 million came from a 4-6 meter light penetration year. The reason was there were few fry in the lake the previous year when those fry came into the lake.
This is a complex issue and therfore one can really get confused on the biological issues in this lake. Those with agendas like Kenai River Sport Fishing Association try to provide misinformation and feed it to people like Craig Medred. So Craig comes out with it is all turbidity and dismissed the brood year interaction. UCIDA spokeperson knows just enough to get in trouble but does not understand that this years return came from an escapement ADF&G strives to get. He is off the wall but that is not unusual during the emotion of the fishing season.
I hope this helps explain the issues. What this return, if it fails and there is still a couple of weeks to go before we know for sure, will do is allow for an honest discussion of what is happening based on science. The agenda driven stuff should fade into dust.
I can also tell you that when runs cycle like the Kenai does all types of people make reasons why it happened. In this case I would dismiss those explanations and look for data. This year return came from a fall sockeye fry estimate of 8 million. Small fry tend to survive the winter at less than 50% so 4 million smolt went out if the numbers jive. The Kenai River sockeye have been having a 20% marine survival rate so only 800,000 adults would be expected. ADF&G actually with the fine tuned models predicted on 1.2 million adults based on fry numbers. The higher forecast this year came from other models. Therefore, this is a freshwater production issue - clear and but not simple.
Manage it for sport fishing
IMHO the main problem is managing (or attempting to manage) that river as a commercial run (as the priority)
The whole issue of too many fish being let in the river is being raised by commercial fishermen who basically want every single fish that isn't required for spawning and many many of them would be more than happy to take them all and move on
Trying to fill commercial nets with reds while sustaining priceless Silver and King stocks is just not doable.....
(should be a great year for Silvers this year MAINLY because a significant number of them won't wind up in gill nets)
The state should buy out the commercial guys and manage the river for sport fishing...........
I know several "commercial" fishermen that operate out of Kenai/Kasilof and they are all basically hobby guys...........yeah they make money most years but mainly they're doing it for a tax dodge and to supplement their income........NOT as a livlihood
Nobody can actually make a living fishing reds in Cook Inlet so why are we mismanaging a priceless King and Silver fishery to attempt to allow a select few Alaskans (and in many many cases out of staters) make a killing in 5 or 6 weeks of work.......
If you look at the money spent on licenses, gas, motels, restuarants, bait and tackle, campground fees, boat launches, parking charter fees etc. etc. etc. the value of a salmon on a sport anglers line DWARFS the 80 cents a pound the commercial guys are making on the SAME FISH.......
Take some of the billions of dollars this state has and buy these guys out for a reasonable price and move on..........
if you really want to hear these guys sqwauk offer them 20 years of their net profits from the past 5 years *LOL*..... the guys I know who "commercial fish" write off their boats, their fish camps, a vehicle (or two) and just about any expense they can possibly think of towards their "commercial fishing operation"..........lo and behold at the end of the year they didn't make jack-you-know-what.........or better yet they have a nice big fat loss to offset their other income
If you take a look at tax returns of most lower cook inlet commercial fishermen you'd come to the conclusion that the state would be doing them a HUGE favor by putting them out of "business"........
people in the lower 48 used to commecially harvest buffalo and passenger pigeons too........also ducks and geese........sheep goats moose caribou ALL used to be commercially harvested and sold right here in Alaska......
times change..........use of resources change.......
How can you manage the returns without commercial fishing? There is simply no other way to remove large numbers of fish to prevent exactly what happened.
What would have happened if 5-8 million fish had spawned in the river?
That is a great explanation of the situation. Understanding fish population dynamics is not an easy task and sometimes trying to explain it can be even more difficult. You did it well!!
Out in the open...
Well, the economics driving the management controversy just doesn't get any plainer than that. Forget managing the sockeye fishery for sustained yield, forget the Kenaitze educational fishery, forget the commercial gill-net industry and its support industies, forget the yield devoted to resident Alaskan's personal use fishery, forget the diversification of the area's tax base, forget the income to the State of Alaska generated by the commercial nets, forget the consumers who'll no longer share in the resource, forget a stable sockeye fishery and the millions of dollars it brings to area businesses, forget all that so that commercial and private sportfishing interests can exploit kings and silvers instead. The sheer selfishness of such a notion is staggering to me.
Originally Posted by AKCheese
And by the way, it's the sockeye fishery that generates most of the "money spent on licenses, gas, motels, restuarants, bait and tackle, campground fees, boat launches" and more.
Currently, 100% of the first run of kings enters the Kenai River, and 75% of the second run does likewise. It's the 25% of the run taken by gill-nets that's driving all the fuss. Some want it all — every last fish — and are willing to sacrifice any interests except their own to satisfy that want.
manage it for consistent sustained yield
Ah, economics, politics, and a wild (for now) fish population. I wonder just who or what will "win." Look at the past histories.
I guess it all comes down to "net economic value" and ISER reports, and what user group(s) derives the most benefit from the fishery, not just in terms of food but in terms of recreation and dollars. I simply find it amazing that sport anglers in the tens of thousands seem to think they can have no effect on the fishery and that what they do isn't "commercial" fishing as well.
To heck with managing the fishery for a particular user group! That is exactly the problem with politicized game and fish management. Manage it for the sustained yield of the fishery, and nothing more. Adaptive management is what is called for, so it can adapt to environmental changes. When user groups clamor for their fair share; when they demand a certain supply...bad things happen to the resource.
Nerka wow...it must have taken you a long time to write that reply. I do understand your basic point, there is much more to the debate than just the amount of salmon one group get over another. All that science is fun and all, but having worked for commercial fisheries in Bristol Bay for few summers I can tell what data the managers put the most stock in. In may the count the outgoing smelt, run those numbers against a model for returning salmonn, and you have a forcast. How do you think they got the prediction for this year. Let me ask you, how often have they been wrong? 1/2 the time, 1/4..remeber last year when they were scratching their heads as to why there was so many fish coming back. (I bet you have a really cool and very dazzeling answer for that one). The dyamics of the ocean are so complex, they best they can do is make an educated guess. The main point myself and others who fish the Kenia is: The Kenai is managed for Commercial first, they take a lion share of the fish. Check the ADF&G site, in a year that is projected to be less than 2,000,000 fish and as you stated the middle return of 600,000, leaves 1.4 million. Any takers on who gets a lion share of those fish? ADF&G wants somewhere in the neighborhood of 850,000 in river in like the one we have (this was all before the gloomy reality of the red run). How many people do you think it would take to catch 250,000 fish....any rate the rest is for the Commerial boys and maybe a few for the dipnetters (just not this year). It not the science, the numbers, the politics, it the hiaracy that places the interests of a realative few in front of the rest of us. That is just plain wrong. My .02 cents..
And plainer and plainer. . .
Originally Posted by SockeyOrange
SockeyOrange, yukon, Bearbait 1, and AKCheese: Do any of you have an economic interest in area sportfishing?
I don't — not one bit, on either side of the issue.
Thanks for an excellent summary. From this discussion I conclude sustained yield mandates a symbiotic relationship between commericial and sports fishermen. Throw in mother nature and you have your wild card. I see no reason (or gain) in blaming fisheries management. The power of the escapement studies increases each year, as more data allows for better analysis of confounding variables (interdependance of different salmonids, rainbow predation, Skilak visibility, sport fishing, pike!?, commercial fishing, bank erosion, flooding,etc). Even the best fisheries biologists will state that there is a high rate of varience from predicted forecasts due to all of these variables; plus less than 30 years of good data.
Actually I think the bigger question is, does the Kenai have an economic interest in me?. I buy gas for my car and boat at the local stations, food from Fred Meyer, tackle from the hardware store, pay launching fees, rent movies, by beer...I think you get my point. I wonder has much money locals like my self (AK I mean) and tourists mean to the economy of the Kenai? No fish down there means I'm going north, tourists may re-think travel plans and try some other region of the state. I'm not a guide, never have been. My father has a place in sterling and I visit often taken my kids to the river I grew up fishing. A realize my stake is personal and I mean no disrespect to any I may have offened. In no way do I think we should shut all commercial fishing down, that would be just plain stupid. Rather alocate the resource differently, in my obviously biased opinion. Sport fish's slice of the pie is too small.
No economic interest whatsoever
Who will manage the fishery?............ how about letting nature manage it?
Unless you believe in the immortal words of Wally Hickel "well we just can't let nature run wild" *laff*
The peaks and valleys of red numbers are part of a natural cycle which I have no problem with and Nerka did a good job of explaining the most PROBABLE expanaition of the science of what is occuring
Thr explanaition that turbidity has caused MOST of the problem (this year and probably in future years until the number of smolt drops which will allow the food stocks to rebound) makes a lot of sense to me......
There has been overescapement for years in the Kasilof but the run there this year is pretty darn good.......
Commercial, sport and dipnet fishermen all want their cake and eat it too.......
and no I have absolutely ZERO economic interest in sport or commercial fishing
The commerical guys will all say "see you should have let us catch more in years past" the sport and dipnet guys will say "see you let the commercial guys take too many"
I've dipnetted in the past but it's really not big deal to me...... I certainly don't "need" the fish ........ just like most commercial fishermen that fish that fishery don't "need" that income as their livlihood....... I have sport fished for reds in the Kenai YEARS ago but I think it's probably been 10 or more years since I last wet a line there for reds.........I've been King fishing there 4 times in my life and I THINK I fished for silvers there once 10 or 15 years ago
I'm just giving my opinion of what the best use of that resource is and I think ANY legitimate economic analysis that has been done shows as a pretty much SLAM DUNK that those fish are much more valuable as sport fish than they are as commercial fish........
the fish belong to the people of the state of Alaska and they should be managed for the greatest benifit of the people of Alaska
I think that leads to the conclusion that they should be managed for sport fishing
As long as you have the conflictin interests of commercial and sport/subsistence fishermen then decisions will be made based on a mixture of science and political clout
I think the most sensible way to remove the politics is to remove the conflict and to me that means removing the very marginal commercial fishery (again I challenge a commercial fisherman to produce his tax returns for the last several years showing that he made a sizeable bottom line profit commercial fishing down there *laff*)
"SockeyOrange, yukon, Bearbait 1, and AKCheese: Do any of you have an economic interest in area sportfishing?"
Marcus, I don't have any monetary interest in the Kenai, I only get down there every 5 years or so. I don't know who's right or wrong, I was replying to the fact that the quotes you presented don't make any sense. You put these quotes in your message so I assume you agree with them.
Let me try this again, because you didn't answer the first time.
1. If the reds are naturally reproduced, how did we "put" them there?
2. Do you think that wild salmon runs can't thrive without man's intervention?
3. The report that you quote says that with turbity up 65% the plankton have dropped 50% but then in the next sentance you say that the salmon are the cause of the drop in plankton. Please explain why you included a quote to prove your point but then contradict the qoute.
4. Let me add this, when you quote a commercial fishing representative as saying that all the problems will go away if you let the commercials take more fish, forgive us if we take it with a grain of salt.
"Management" isn't the problem. The Board of Fisheries isn't the problem, and ADF&G isn't the problem. The "problem" occurs when the management process becomes politicized — one user group or another squalling about their "fair share," and peddling disinformation and fantasy-land economics in pursuit of their agenda.
bushrat said it well: "To heck with managing the fishery for a particular user group! That is exactly the problem with politicized game and fish management. Manage it for the sustained yield of the fishery, and nothing more. ... When user groups clamor for their fair share; when they demand a certain supply...bad things happen to the resource." And if the state is to manage in terms of sustained yield, Paul H noted, "How can you manage the returns without commercial fishing? There is simply no other way to remove large numbers of fish to prevent exactly what happened."
It's not the commercial gill-net industry that's currently squalling for a "fair share" — it's the commercial/personal sportfishery that's wanting more and more fish, a "fairer and fairer share," to feed its interests, addictions, and economics. Nor is it the commercial gill-net industry that is putting the resource at risk with development, pollution, trophy fishing and more. It's the commercial/personal sportfishery that, within just the last few years or so, is putting the entire fishery, the entire ecosystem, and the management thereof at risk.
SockeyOrange says, "Sport fish's slice of the pie is too small." Well then, tell us — how much is enough? How big, what percentage should "Sport fish's slice of the pie" be? How much do you guys want? What do you define as Sport fish's "fair share"?