Well, I am cynical. I admit it. Years of status quo, despite all objections to the status quo, will do that to a guy. I've been to 3 BOF meetings now, being heavily involved in the process, from the AC level on up, so I have a history, albeit a short one, with the process. I lived in Wasilla, now in Willow, and have sportfished that area fanatically for more than 20 years. I have a history there.
Now, the cynic. In 2005, I came to the board expecting there to be a dodge. We hoped for action, but expected a demand for more studies. (We got more studies.) Either by ADF&G, or BOF, or both. They don't want to deal with expanding populations in the valley and the professed need for more fish inriver. Well, they found it. We claimed that intercept fisheries are catching an uneven amount of fish destined for the valley, and restrictions to valley sport fisheries were the only active step being taken. The answer we received from the board, was that with the new Genetics study being initiated, the Board would have enough information to decide what actions to take at sea to move more fish into Valley rivers. They acknowledged a problem with Su/Yentna escapement, claimed insufficient data to spur action.
Enter 2008. Genetics study completed. No excuse, right? Time to take action? Well, enter the dodge. First, throw out the genetics study, point out inconsistency in the data, also the data has not been analyed into August yet, where its still critical for management. That may not be enough. Dodge number 2. The sonar count in Yentna is undercounting, due to higher weir counts. Therefore, we really don't even have a problem with escapement, as many more fish are going past the sonar than what we actually count. Sounds great! Well, the cynic in me was vindicated. Dodge number 3. More studies will now be instituted, to find out what really is going on up there.
Oh, for the record, the department knows sonars undercount. That is an established fact. Just look at the numbers. In '96 the sonar counted 90k or so sockeye, and the 1 weir they had in one lake in the system counted about 35k fish- nearly half the entire Yentna numbers, whereas it should have been about a tenth if the sonar was counting every fish. So this isn't new news at all- but it makes a great dodge when it comes to being held accountable to manage for escapement goals! What convenient timing....