Best available science, and share the burden of conservation. Those are mandates. All other is just deflecting the question, Grampy. I will dignify your questions with a dignified response, though.
Funding and pike problems. I worked very hard with the valley legislators to get funding for the genetics study and economic survey. In '05 I submitted a pike predation permit proposal as an RC. In '08 I worked on the pike committee and lobbied for a 5 line limit on Nancy Lake, which has both a red run and pike. In '09 I helped submit an emergency proposal to bring Alexander Lake to the table out of cycle. As a result the slot limit on pike will be dropped to increase angler effort. I recognize there are many problems in our system, and I have taken the actions I can to address them. I'm not a single issue warrior.
Restricting all mixed stock fisheries- this is not necessarily the case. If a mixed stock fishery occurs after the main bulk of Deshka/Susitna kings has passed, then it likely wouldn't be affected, unless there's no fish in the Deshka. The Northern District's May opener that was just added to their season is one that has the a very large effect on Deshka bound kings, and more importantly, Alexander Creek. The other one to look at would be the Upper SubDistrict of the Central District.
It is very dishonest to look at commercial catch vs commercial catch cap, and not take into consideration the other factors besides restrictions that limit the Northern District catch. Look at sport harvest numbers on 4 major systems in 1990. This was a year when ND caught numbers close to the cap. Theodore, Lewis, Deshka and Alexander Creek all had sport harvests in excess of 1,000 fish, and Deshka had a high harvest as well. These are all remote fisheries. Theodore, Lewis and Alexander were all thriving fly in fisheries, and Deshka and Alexander were mixed boat/fly in. I wish I had the exact numbers in front of me! Add to this the fact that the last two seasons, of all surveyed streams in the Valley, less than half were even at the escapement threshold. There are no extra fish to be caught from the Susitna/West side systems. We're not talking about harvesting fish that are not necessary to the system- there is no longer an overabundance of fish in the Deshka, much less the Su.
The reason this is an extremely important point is that when you put this data in the mix with the higher commercial catch, it shows that more kings were available to all fisheries. Now three of the systems that produced so many kings in the early nineties have no sport fishing mortality allowed, and the Deshka, the fourth system, is heavily restricted to MAYBE allow its bottom threshold escapement to be reached. In other words, the total number of fish getting into the Susitna and West Side streams is far lower than it was when ND was able to catch 13,000 kings in a season. To me, it makes no sense to continue to take measures to increase the commercial catch back to the numbers it had in its heyday when all the indicators show that there is not nearly the pool of fish to pull those numbers from. Just as important, the restrictions to sport fishing that were put in place still exist. We still cannot use bait anywhere other than the Deshka River, we have a one fish a day and in possession (half the former possession limit), and a 5 fish a year cap- we formerly had no season limit. If extra fish are there to expand commercial fishing again, then they are there for sport fishing as well. Share in abundance, share in scarcity.
Finally, lost economic opportunity when Deshka river overescaped. First off, that is a very sketchy thing to say when looking at '05 commercial numbers. I'll get to that in a minute. The same argument applies here as the one Grampy uses for mixed stock fisheries. Even though escapements in the Deshka were high, the rest of the monitored streams were not above the high end of escapements. They were well within the range, and some were under the minimum escapement. Alexander was one of these. Increasing commercial effort on the mixed stocks in the Inlet would have caused other major streams in the system to fall below the minimum escapement threshold, possibly prompting closures in the sport fishing on the major Parks Highway streams. Yes, there is an economic qualifier for BOF decisions. It is one of the criteria they must consider when deciding upon allocation shifts.
Lost economic opportunity is so hard to quantify too. In those years of large escapements in the Deshka there were literally hundreds, sometimes several thousand, boats fishing the Deshka every day. Both guided and non guided. So even though the overescaped fish did not end up in a fisherman's hold, the abundant fish caused a big surge in sport fishing effort and expenditures. This gets into economics principals which I am fuzzy on, but my point is that there is a tradeoff. Dollars lost to ND setnetters are not dollars that are lost to the economy, nor to the state. There's a lot more dollars separated from tourist's pockets when the king fishing is good than when it is poor. $282,679. That is the ex vessel value of 8500 kings at '05 prices, from the numbers in the '05 commercial fishing report. The closure of the Deshka River last summer, combined with poor returns elsewhere, cost the business I work at roughly $150,000. And it is just a small tackle shop. Add in Freddy's, Wally world, the hotel industry, guides, Deshka Landing, etc, and the economic impact on the Valley far exceeded the exvessel value of an additional 8500 kings to the Northern District.
Now, one more statement I'd like to set straight. Was there lost economic opportunity? The BOF took action to rectify it, if it happened, in spring '05, and it worked- despite Grampy's claim to the contrary.
Grampy- "Sport fishing bag limits were liberalized and restrictions removed. All while the commercial fishermen sat back and watched this lost yield swim under our sportfishing boats."
Sorry that's just not true. This is also excerpted from the '05 commercial report:
"In 2005 the commercial harvest in the Upper Subdistrict set gillnet fishery of 20,808 Chinook salmon was the third highest harvest since 1966 when harvest records specific to fishery are available." "The 2005 harvest of 28,894 Chinook salmon is well above the long term average harvest by approximately 11,000 fish. The two fisheries where Chinook salmon are harvested in appreciable numbers in UCI are in the Northern District and in the Upper Subdistrict of the Central District."
This doesn't look like a bunch of fishermen sitting by watching lost yield swimming by. There was a great return of kings, and a lot of them were caught in both the commercial and sport fisheries. Yes, the Deshka did overescape. But don't blame that on lack of effort by management to prevent this. Commercial boys were nearly double the long term average. In fact, they had the 3rd largest harvest in 40 years! Sport fishermen tried, but did not catch more fish, despite liberalized bag limits on the Deshka, because the water temp was so high the fish had lockjaw. You can't blame that one on Fish and Game!
And there's the link if you'd like to verify my numbers.
Ya know? Sportfishing on the Deshka wasn't really great in the late 90's, either. It was shut down completely for 5 years!