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Thread: Article in Homer News- what do you think?

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    Member willphish4food's Avatar
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    Default Article in Homer News- what do you think?

    March 6, 2008 Homer News

    "Biologists to manage UCI for escapement goals"

    By Cristy Fry
    Homer News


    Management of Upper Cook Inlet salmon stocks underwent
    a fundamental change at the Alaska Board of Fisheries
    meetings in February with the adoption of a proposal
    that directs state biologists to manage the stocks to meet
    escapement goals.
    Stocks in VCI have previously been managed under
    a complex system that attempted to satisfy various user
    groups, a plan that has led to chronic over-escapement in
    the Kenai and Kasilof rivers.
    By passing proposal 130, the Board of Fisheries clarified
    that escapement goals are a priority over current regulations
    that limit allowable fishing time, closed windows and
    fishing areas. It essentially freed up the Emergency Order
    authority used by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game
    to manage for biological goals.
    Jeff Fox, area management biologist for commercial
    fisheries, said management for in-river goals does not necessarily
    provide more flexibility, but rather directed flexibility.
    He had positive things to say about the change in
    philosophy.
    "You should manage for the escapement goal," Fox
    said. "That's why we have them."
    Fox pointed out the in-river goal is an allocation and
    to allow over-escapementconstitutes a re-allocation, something
    the Board of Fisheries is mandated to consider.
    The new regulationmeans Fish and Game can open the
    commercial fishery in what are referred to as "windows,"
    mandatory closures for setnetters late in the week designed
    to put fish in the rivers on weekends for sport and personal
    use fishermen.
    Another significant board action was a decision to list
    sockeye salmon in the Yentria River, the largest tributary
    in the Susitna drainage in the Susitna Valley,as a "stock of
    yield concern." There are three different classifications for
    stocks of concern, or SOC, with yield concern being the
    lowest level. The classification refers to the lack of harvestable
    yield over and above the escapement goals.
    Sport fishermen in the Susitna drainage have long
    pointed to interception by the commercial drift gillnet fleet
    in VCI as a cause for low sockeye returns, although beaver
    dams and pike released into salmon habitat as well as
    warmer water temperatures also are thought to playa role.
    However, escapement numbers in the Yentna are the
    subject of much controversy, and studies are under way to
    determine how many fish are returning to the system. Those
    studies are pointing to the Yentna receiving not just minimal
    escapement, but, in some cases, probably over-escapement.
    The tool used to count returning fish in the past has
    been the Bendix sonar counter, which in 2006 showed
    an escapement of 93,000 fish, while a weir study showed
    126,000fish.When a DIDSON sonar was placed next to the
    Bendix, it counted 160,000 fish. In 2007, the Bendix read
    80,000, the mDSON 130,000, the weir study 97,000, and
    a mark and recapture study as many as 250,000 fish in the
    Yentna River.
    The lower end of the escapement goal for the Yentna
    River for 2006 and 2007 was 90,000 sockeye.
    It is hoped the action plan that was set up as a result of
    the sac listing will bring with it funding to sort out what is
    happening, said Fox.
    "We are probably going to install a different counter,"
    he said. "We've had the mDSON up there, but we're probably
    going to look at it more realistically. The escapement
    goal is supposed to be one of total spawner abundance, so if
    the Bendix counter is grossly undercounting, it's a problem.
    So we're hoping to get some money for weirs, and then get
    some (different) counters, and see how that works. That's
    kind of why we set up the action plan, to see just what is
    going on."
    Over-escapement is as much of a concern as under escapement,
    and it's important to find out if either is happening
    for the health of the river and lake systems, Fox said.
    "Everyone is saying that there are no fish up in the Valley,
    but the studies say something completely different," he
    said. "We're managing for 200,000 in the (entire) Susitna
    (drainage), but we're probably putting 400,000 to 600,000
    in. That's a problem."
    Fox challenged the claim that commercial fishermen
    are harvesting too many of the Susitna sockeye.
    "Genetic studies showed in 'OS,with a 5 million (sockeye)
    return to the Kenai, that we harvested 10,000to 20,000
    Susitna (sockeye),"he said.
    The trouble, according to Fox, is that there are too
    many fishermen for the number of fish.
    "The problem is that every fish here has somebody's
    name on it, maybe two or three people's names," he said.
    "It's fully allocated."

    What are your thoughts on this article?

  2. #2

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    I think it gives the Dept of Fish and Game a BLACKEYE. Too many fisherman that use and have used the area longer than that bio has been in working, know better.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Akres View Post
    I think it gives the Dept of Fish and Game a BLACKEYE. Too many fisherman that use and have used the area longer than that bio has been in working, know better.
    The blackeye is not from the biologist comments or his conclusions. The ADF&G put out those figures from a sport fish run study. So he is just saying if they are right then ADF&G has not been harvesting to the level they could under the management plans.

    The Sport Fish Division pushed the mark/recapture studies and they failed upon close examination. I know this biologist and he does not believe the mark/recapture estimates and has said so. However, as long as the Department puts those numbers out he must respond if asked how he would manage if they are correct.

    WFFF and Akres-- you should be ashamed for trying to make this personal to the local commercial fisheries biologist - no class on your part. He reflects a Department position given what the Department puts out for escapement figures.

    I can tell you he knows more about the Susitna drainage than anyone within ADF&G or the valley. He lives and dies on the Susitna and he reads and understands every report, looks at the lakes and streams, and worries every season about how to move fish north. To say otherwise or imply otherwise is a gross misrepresentation of his character.

    Take exception to the data but stop this character attack - he does not deserve it and it makes you appear in a bad light to those of us who know this individual and the hours of time he puts in understanding and managing this complex fishery.

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    Member willphish4food's Avatar
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    Default excuse me

    Nerka, I quoted the newspaper article word for word. This post has no personal reference to the biologist in question. How is this an attack on him? I asked for thoughts on the article...

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    Default he is named in the article

    Quote Originally Posted by willphish4food View Post
    Nerka, I quoted the newspaper article word for word. This post has no personal reference to the biologist in question. How is this an attack on him? I asked for thoughts on the article...
    WFFF - he is named in the article and the post by Akres says this is a blackeye on the Department. Also, on other threads this individual has been singled out for personal attack and this just continues that trend.

    What comments did you want on this article that have not been covered already on this forum?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nerka View Post
    The blackeye is not from the biologist comments or his conclusions. The ADF&G put out those figures from a sport fish run study. So he is just saying if they are right then ADF&G has not been harvesting to the level they could under the management plans.
    OK, I'll give you that much. None the less, if you were a newbie looking for a place to fish; Would you put faith in a dept study (governed by politicians) or; Would you ask the locals, whether they be independant sports fishermen or guides? Of course the bio in question is speaking Party Line. They always do, if they want to get a retirement out of the deal. To ignore information that hundreds of fishermen are relating, is silly. Best advice I could give a newbie, would be to listen to those that really do fish the area. Seen too many times when fish counters (young college kids needing a summer job), are "counting fish" while they are laying up in the tent reading, exploring the surrounding area, or sleeping. Quantifiable data is not always accurate or truthful data. It often is penciled in on sheets of paper by inexperienced and unqualified individuals and the compiled by those in the cubicle, with their own perceptions and agendas. Leaving plenty of room for error or misrepresentation.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nerka View Post
    The ADF&G put out those figures from a sport fish run study.
    This project was a joint project that involved both divisions as well as CIAA. Both divisions collected data, reviewed data, analyzed data, and reported data.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nerka View Post
    The Sport Fish Division pushed the mark/recapture studies and they failed upon close examination.
    Listed below are the objectives of the 2007 study. Did the study meet any of the objectives? If some of the objectives are met but not all of them met, does this mean the study was a failure? Even if by chance all the objectives weren't met, wouldn't something have been learned from this study? Aren't there many different views of what determines success or failure?

    Objectives:
    1. Estimate the abundance of adult sockeye salmon migrating above Yentna (Yentna River rkm 6) and Sunshine (Susitna River rkm 116), from approximately 7 July to 22 August, 2007, such that, with 90% confidence, the estimate is within 20% of the true value.

    2. Estimate the age, sex, and length (ASL) composition of the population of adult sockeye salmon migrating upstream of the Yentna and Sunshine fish wheels, and at Chelatna, Shell, Judd, Byers, Stephan, Swan and Larson lakes from approximately 10 July to 25 August 2007, such that, with 95% confidence, estimates of the proportion in each age and sex category are within 5 percentage points of the true values.

    3. Identify sockeye salmon spawning areas in the mainstem Susitna River drainage such that if there are 13 spawning sites, all will be detected (>= one radio tag) with probability of at least 0.90 and in the Yentna drainage such if there are 43 spawning sites, all will be detected (>= one radio tag) with probability of at least 0.90.

    4. For sockeye salmon migrating along each bank of the Yentna and mainstem Sustina, estimate the proportion that spawn in each potential location within 15 percentage points 90% of the time.

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    Default failure to me

    Quote Originally Posted by akkona View Post
    This project was a joint project that involved both divisions as well as CIAA. Both divisions collected data, reviewed data, analyzed data, and reported data.



    Listed below are the objectives of the 2007 study. Did the study meet any of the objectives? If some of the objectives are met but not all of them met, does this mean the study was a failure? Even if by chance all the objectives weren't met, wouldn't something have been learned from this study? Aren't there many different views of what determines success or failure?

    Objectives:
    1. Estimate the abundance of adult sockeye salmon migrating above Yentna (Yentna River rkm 6) and Sunshine (Susitna River rkm 116), from approximately 7 July to 22 August, 2007, such that, with 90% confidence, the estimate is within 20% of the true value.

    2. Estimate the age, sex, and length (ASL) composition of the population of adult sockeye salmon migrating upstream of the Yentna and Sunshine fish wheels, and at Chelatna, Shell, Judd, Byers, Stephan, Swan and Larson lakes from approximately 10 July to 25 August 2007, such that, with 95% confidence, estimates of the proportion in each age and sex category are within 5 percentage points of the true values.

    3. Identify sockeye salmon spawning areas in the mainstem Susitna River drainage such that if there are 13 spawning sites, all will be detected (>= one radio tag) with probability of at least 0.90 and in the Yentna drainage such if there are 43 spawning sites, all will be detected (>= one radio tag) with probability of at least 0.90.

    4. For sockeye salmon migrating along each bank of the Yentna and mainstem Sustina, estimate the proportion that spawn in each potential location within 15 percentage points 90% of the time.
    I was speaking to the mark/recapture studies and they have failed relative to the points listed above. Heck the mark/recapture studies at Flathorn and Yentna may not be valid at all - the assumptions are violated.

    Relative to age composition and weired systems the data for some of these systems is incomplete or insufficient. For example Chelatna Lake weir did not hold - this was CIAA.

    Not sure about 3 as the reports at the Board of Fish did not deal with this at this level. However, radio tagged fish did behave differently than marked fish so am not sure they made it to spawning areas or where labeled to the correct system. For example the number that are labeled to the mainstem rivers.

    Relative to sport fish, commercial fisheries, and CIAA that is a mixed bag. The local staff of comm fish and CIAA did not support the mark/recapture studies. They did support the weir studies and the sonar comparsion between Bendix and Didson.

    The mark/recapture studies were pushed by sport fish division and the chief fisheries scientist for comm fish who has since left that position. I was in the meeting and the push for the studies came from those quarters. However, the on ground work at Flathorn was sport fish division.

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