Maybe I'm going to sound a bit naive, but I'll take that chance.
Is there something wrong with the idea that perhaps ADF&G's management of the late run sockeye could be better if they closed the commercial and sport and subsistence fisheries entirely until, say, 75% of the in-river goal is met, and then manage it to try to at least hit the minimum goal from that point on?
It seems to me that if you remove all obstacles to the reds entering the river and making it at least to mile 19, in a normal year the minimum escapement goal might be met as early as July 15. The sonar counts they post are estimates of fish that have avoided capture by commercial and personal use fishermen.
If you look at historic escapement numbers, there's usually a huge number of fish up the river after dipnetting closes on August 1. It seems that if they shut the entire fishery down until mid-July or either the 75% or 100% of escapement goal is met, there are still tons of fish ready to enter the river after that.
Otherwise, unless a miracle occurs and a massive number of fish show up this year, you're looking at an even worse return a few years from now when this poor escapement's offspring return from the sea. Right now it looks like they'll be lucky to hit 750,000 reds entering the river on the late run.
Just wondering. I know the commercial guys would scream like crazy if they were held off until the escapement goal was met, but I kind of get the impression that's how it's done in Bristol Bay. And this year they had record numbers of fish, although I realize escapement is no guarantee of later strong runs.