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Thread: Strong Stock Management

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    Default Strong Stock Management

    The new counting method announced for Yentna looks like another example of strong stock management. Counting fish returning to the most abundant systems does nothing to conserve stocks in systems of lower abundance, but it does ensure maximum harvest of available stocks. Any thoughts?

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    Single Stock Management has proven to be the downfall of salmon throughout the Pacific Northwest. Management Plans that give little or no protection to smaller substocks while targeting a harvestable surplus in nearby systems or rivers leaves little doubt at what the eventual outcome will be for that area if history is a reliable indication.

    Sad to think that we cannot seem to learn from our mistakes. But here we go again. Lets get every last salmon heading to Upper Cook Inlet that we possibly can no matter if some of the rivers in that area are in big trouble. That first weekend of Commercial Fishing in Upper Cook Inlet is targeting mainly Susitna River Stocks. Only a few Alexander Creek Kings will get caught in these openers. Never mind that there are only a handful of them left from the once Crown Jewel of the Susitna King Salmon Rivers. Yes, it is pike that are causing most of the blame here. But does that mean we throw the Alexander under the bus to catch a few thousand surplus UCI kings?

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    Sadly, the historical record will show that weak-stock management generally only gets lip service until that weak stock has either been exterminated or depleted to ESA levels.

    Not sure that the "new and improved" accounting method for Susitna sockeye is just another example of lowering the bar to magically transform a stock of concern to a "healthy" run... or if it really does have merit. Only time will tell.

    I would sure hate to look back 25-30 years from now and have to say OOPS.
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    Quote Originally Posted by iceblue View Post
    Single Stock Management has proven to be the downfall of salmon throughout the Pacific Northwest. Management Plans that give little or no protection to smaller substocks while targeting a harvestable surplus in nearby systems or rivers leaves little doubt at what the eventual outcome will be for that area if history is a reliable indication.

    Sad to think that we cannot seem to learn from our mistakes. But here we go again. Lets get every last salmon heading to Upper Cook Inlet that we possibly can no matter if some of the rivers in that area are in big trouble. That first weekend of Commercial Fishing in Upper Cook Inlet is targeting mainly Susitna River Stocks. Only a few Alexander Creek Kings will get caught in these openers. Never mind that there are only a handful of them left from the once Crown Jewel of the Susitna King Salmon Rivers. Yes, it is pike that are causing most of the blame here. But does that mean we throw the Alexander under the bus to catch a few thousand surplus UCI kings?
    Iceblue - should we manage early run chinook salmon for the substocks - Slikok Creek, mainstem spawners - I do not think you would be in the guide business if we did this on the Kenai or is your concern only for sockeye to make an allocation point?

    Doc, ADF&G does not do strong stock management as you and Will imply. In fact, escapement goal management in UCI is for a multiple of stocks and in the mixed stock fishery there are numerous examples of closures for weaker stocks. The Susitna sockeye being a prime example. Look at the e.o's on Susitna and tell me I am wrong while at the same time look at Kenai River sockeye escapements and see that most of the time the goal is exceeded. If it is strong stock management the Kenai goal would be made more than what it is.

    Willphish4food has shown a total lack of understanding of UCI fishery management and the escapement goals for the Susitna. They were picked because the data set was long enough to make a goal not because they are producing at a higher rate than other Susitna systems. So again Willphish4food is wrong and leading this forum down a path of misdierection.

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    Yes, I would like to see the Kenai managed per tributary and not for an escapement goal for the whole system with Kings and sockeye (not just the Russian River). For that matter a "goal" should be set on coho for both early and late run fish in the various Kenai tributaries.

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    Default long live the coho

    Quote Originally Posted by iceblue View Post
    For that matter a "goal" should be set on coho for both early and late run fish in the various Kenai tributaries.
    Amen to that.

    Coho seem to be the forgotten fish. I suppose it's all tied to funding and when there's not enough of it prioritization occurs.

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    Default ADF&G choice

    Quote Originally Posted by tcman View Post
    Amen to that.

    Coho seem to be the forgotten fish. I suppose it's all tied to funding and when there's not enough of it prioritization occurs.
    Maybe Aktally can tell us why the coho program in the Kenai was stopped. I know there were technical issues with the fishwheel catch and tagging at Moose River.

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    My understanding is that once the coho program stopped, the funds were diverted to the late run Kasilof chinook stock assessment project.

    Not implying cause and effect. Just saying there is only so much dough to go around. And lord only knows how the late run Kasilof kings were long overdue for some much needed attention.

    Just wonder how the data can be used as "baseline" when it was collected at a time when chinook entry patterns were being heavily skewed by the special Kasilof terminal commercial fishery. Talk about throwing a monkey wrench into the database!
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    Default the meeting

    Just got back from the meeting with department personnel in Wasilla where they explained the reasoning behind the new Yentna/Su management system. There are still a lot of unanswered questions. Here is the one huge glaring one that was left: The last three years sonar counts, counted by Didson, were at the bottom end of all escapements since '82. Only three other years, in the "didson adjusted bendix," in that whole time frame were as low or lower. Yet the upper end goal for the lakes chosen as the targets are only slightly above the counted numbers these last 3 years. So in effect, the fish and game department has reset the goals for Yentna and Susitna reds so the lowest escapements in a 28 year period will be the upper threshold, leaving the low end of the threshold far lower than the current escapement threshold.

    It is strong stock management. The weir counts give the department hard numbers, which they attempted to say gave them a better count for the entire system than the sonars provide. BUT. It APPLIES TO THE LAKES THAT HAVE WEIRS TO COUNT FISH. The rest of the system is still counted by estimate. Non weired lakes, and the sloughs and streams which accounted for a large percentage of the Susitna and Yentna red run, are still estimated by pit tagging and mark/recapture studies. There will be no in season indicators of run abundance to direct in season fisheries management actions.

    This action by the Department blindsided everyone outside the Department. It is a huge shift away from historic enumeration techniques, and changes the OEG for Yentna out of cycle. There was no public process. Whether it is better science or not is debatable- but the debate was not allowed to take place. I am very dissappointed that the Department chose to implement this outside of the Board cycle and process, excluding the AC's, the public, and the BOF from the discussion.

    Deshka kings: Cutting bait should cut the effectiveness of sport fishermen by 50% or less, and cutting the days of fishing should chop off another 50% or more, so the impact on the kings will be far less while still allowing fishing. Decision will be made by June 12 whether to totally close, maintain current restrictions, or drop the restrictions on the Deshka. Regulatory restrictions on sport fishing in the rest of the valley should be enough to ensure escapements in the rest of the Su, but they'll be monitored closely.

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    Quote Originally Posted by willphish4food View Post
    The last three years sonar counts, counted by Didson, were at the bottom end of all escapements since '82. Only three other years, in the "didson adjusted bendix," in that whole time frame were as low or lower. Yet the upper end goal for the lakes chosen as the targets are only slightly above the counted numbers these last 3 years. So in effect, the fish and game department has reset the goals for Yentna and Susitna reds so the lowest escapements in a 28 year period will be the upper threshold, leaving the low end of the threshold far lower than the current escapement threshold.


    Say it ain't so!

    "Stock of concern" instantly transformed to "healthy" with the stroke of a pen. Sounds all too much like what happened with the Kenai's troubled early run kings!

    Simple... just lower the bar that defines the performance standard. Anything to prop up HARVEST HARVEST HARVEST.
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    Default do not buy willphish4food line

    Quote Originally Posted by fishNphysician View Post


    Say it ain't so!

    "Stock of concern" instantly transformed to "healthy" with the stroke of a pen. Sounds all too much like what happened with the Kenai's troubled early run kings!

    Simple... just lower the bar that defines the performance standard. Anything to prop up HARVEST HARVEST HARVEST.
    Willphish4food understanding of the situation is so far off on this that it would be cruel to point out all of his errors. I would suggest one just read the report and remember the Didson adjusted Bendix counts were rejected by the Department for use - yet Willphish4food tries to use them in his post to make a point that is not defendable.

    He also does not know what strong stock management is relative to the Susitna or understand the limitations of the present data set. In short - he is a fish out of water on this one.

    So read the report, understand ADF&G announced over a year ago they were going to do this review, that anyone who made a phone call a couple of months ago knew this was coming as the report was written and in draft form, and that this is the best course of action at this point in time. ADF&G was honest on this one - at the 2008 BOF meeting they said they were going to weirs as the sonar program was misleading. How they were going to weirs was subject to further study. They have indicated two months before the season what they are doing.

    What begs the question here is even if ADF&G informed the public three months ago what would change the approach? Political crying from the valley - threats to ADF&G budget, what? A technical outside review was done on this report so it was not just an internal review and decision.

    Lets bring the hype of Willphish4food and others in the valley down. They have no bullets in their allocation gun and they are upset about it. Data always will prevail over emotion if given a chance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nerka View Post
    Data always will prevail over emotion if given a chance.
    Yeah, I used to believe in that one too!

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    Default Yup, I'm a liar

    Its there on page 24 of the report. "Didson adjusted Bendix". According to Nerka, I'm lying, the fish and game didnt' use that number. Sadly, though, Nerka is wrong on this one. Its in black and white, in the document issued by the Department. I love it when eye witness accounts are called lies by one who was not present.

    The two board of fish members I spoke with were not aware that Fish and Game was going to abandon the Bendix out of cycle. I'm not the only one who was blindsided. The AC which I represent was not issued any notice of the discussion of this method, and no public comment was sought.

    I can be accused of misrepresenting what I see. So be it. Let the facts speak for themselves.

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    Default O.K I will lay it out

    Quote Originally Posted by willphish4food View Post
    Its there on page 24 of the report. "Didson adjusted Bendix". According to Nerka, I'm lying, the fish and game didnt' use that number. Sadly, though, Nerka is wrong on this one. Its in black and white, in the document issued by the Department. I love it when eye witness accounts are called lies by one who was not present.

    The two board of fish members I spoke with were not aware that Fish and Game was going to abandon the Bendix out of cycle. I'm not the only one who was blindsided. The AC which I represent was not issued any notice of the discussion of this method, and no public comment was sought.

    I can be accused of misrepresenting what I see. So be it. Let the facts speak for themselves.
    Willphish4food, you get yourself in trouble with this stuff because you do not understand the technical report. The Department looked at the option of adjusting the Bendix counts with the Didson so they presented the adjustments so one can see it. However, if you read the report there was significant problems with this approach. Let me quote from page 4 of the report " The poor performance of the Bendix sonar estimates as an index in years of high pink salmon abundance is likely a consequence of fish wheel species apportionment."

    As another example that fish wheel selectivity is likely a major source of error in the estimation of sockeye salmon abundance past the sonar site, we compared total unapprotioned Didson counts to mark/recapture estimates.... the proportion of sockeye salmon in fish wheel catches, shows that fish wheels are underestimating the sockeye salmon production by a factor of 2.4 on average.

    Finally they say " Concerns regarding sonar as a reliable index of abundance lead us t believe it would be inappropriate to use the historical Bendix estimates to establish a new escapement goal.

    In short Willphish4food - the relationship between the Didson and Bendix is not useful as an index and therefore the relationship should not be used for setting escapement goals. That is the long and short of it Willphish4food.

    Finally, I did not say you lied. I said you misled. That is because it is obvious you do not understand this report and what it means.

    Relative to your AC and BOF members not knowing about this approach - sound like they are not doing their job. User groups down here knew about it and what the recommendation was going to be as the technical committee had made their recommendation. We did not have the report but we understood the approach. You just needed to make a phone call as an adviory committee member.

    Also, who cares what the public thinks on this one - it is a technical question within ADF&G on meeting their mission and responsibilities. Having you, as demostrated by your lack of technical skills, making recommendations on counting fish in the Susitna would be foolish.

    If there is a technical problem then professionals in the field could comment. The report is out for that to happen if such an error exists. However, holding hearings so a bunch of lay public can say they want a system that is proven to be a failure does not do much for science or ADF&G. Willphish4food, the bottom line is that you and others still refuse to believe that more sockeye salmon are going into the Susitna River. That takes away from your sockeye are failing in the Susitna River from commercial overharvest and that is the rub for you. You cannot make that dog hunt anymore.

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    This current "dialogue" between Nerka and myself is a classic example of what is wrong with our fisheries management. Though no longer employed by the department, the same tone comes from the area manager. You can do what ever you want with numbers, verify that, villify this, and come up with whatever results you need, but it still is very difficult to make a person disbelieve what that person has seen with his own eyes. Especially when the person refuting the eye witness account has never experienced what he is trying to debunk in the eye witness.

    The department has created a very neat little bundle to show how there really is no stock of concern status for reds in the Yentna and Susitna, as they have really been making goals all along, as shown by their new goals. The problem with saying that there is very little to no difference in red runs when the bendix counted low, than when the bendix counted high, is that fishermen in the streams and lakes with red runs noted the same correlation: the bendix counts high, we saw more fish in the stream than when the bendix counted low. And vise versa. The other problem in doing this is that myself and people in the valley who spend an inordinate amount of time fishing these systems HAVE seen a big downturn in runs. Stock of concern is not about closing fisheries: it may cause restrictions to all fisheries affecting the stock, but more importantly it makes the department address all causes of stock depreciation. Study them, yes. Actually do something about it, hopefully yes, as well. This report is a blow to those of us who have seen fisheries we love steadily decline, over exploited by a drift fleet run amock, reduced in areas by invasive pike, returning in far lower numbers in systems that have no pike or beaver dams, and now we see that the major problem in the system is a "faulty counting method." But the fish and game has fixed that, by throwing out 30 years of data and replacing it with 3 years of data from 3 weirs in a system far larger in area than the Kenai Peninsula. Where does that leave the fishery and the fishermen in the valley that depend on that fishery for a livelihood and sustenance?

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    Two things I will add that surfaced in the meeting. Didson cannot distinguish between pinks and reds. Bendix cannot distinguish between them. Bendix is bad because it cannot make the distinction. Yet Didson is still good.

    IF pinks skew the numbers so badly, then throw out all even year counts. I did not find a technical analysis of those numbers in these reports.

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    Default your hopeless

    Quote Originally Posted by willphish4food View Post
    Two things I will add that surfaced in the meeting. Didson cannot distinguish between pinks and reds. Bendix cannot distinguish between them. Bendix is bad because it cannot make the distinction. Yet Didson is still good.

    IF pinks skew the numbers so badly, then throw out all even year counts. I did not find a technical analysis of those numbers in these reports.
    Lets just throw out all the counting methods and go with Willsphis4food observations - they are the best from his viewpoint. Of course I doubt he even visits half the sockeye systems in the drainage, probably less of the coho systems, and of course is not there everyday but he knows that stocks are down because of overharvest by the drift gill net fleet. What a bunch of bull.

    The problem here is individuals who refuse to understand the issues because of their allocation bent. No one is saying some systems in the valley are not producing fish - 120 pike infested systems have an impact. What is being said is that Willsphis4food and others are wasting our time and money trying to make it an interception issue.

    Willphish4food has a problem reading the reports - I understand that - they are very technical. But when he makes comments like throwing out 30 years of data and going with 3 years he is misleading everyone and shows a total lack of understanding of the issue. First, the 30 years of data are not valid. Second, the weir counts on three systems are from more than 3 years. Third, ADF&G is running the Didson and counting at 7 weir sites to build a new data set. They are moving correctly and people like Willphish4food have been cut out of using the sonar for political objectives. You should be ashamed Willphish4food. ADF&G is doing the right thing - I take them on when they are wrong in my opinion technically but I will stand with them when they are doing the correct approach. They have no vested interest to do anything but try and manage for high sustained yields in these systems. I want them to do more on pike and feel they are failing there but in thiis case they are right on.

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    For Nerka, I know you agree wholeheartedly with this direction by Fish and Game. It is what you have been actively promoting during your career with the Department and in your retirement. Kudos to you. And of course you will defend it, because it is as much your course of action as it is the department's. Because I happen to disagree with you somehow makes me an imbecile who cannot understand a technical report. So be it. I believe the only conclusion that should be drawn from the fact that I disagree with you is this: "I disagree with you." Anything else is speculation and conjunction.

    I'm not going to talk about the report, interpretation, etc, right now, but I am going to pose a question to motives. For arguments sake, lets say this is the right and proper way to manage the stock. That the Bendix is hopelessly inaccurate. According to the report, this is proven by 2 referenced fish wheel studies showing that pinks were counted as reds. Also by numbers of reds at weirs that were much higher than should have been possible had all the reds been counted. This is where I insert my question. Why now?

    The pink studies were conducted in '67 and '82. Help me with my math, cause I can't figger out these goshdanged technical whatzits and whozits, but isn't that 42 and 27 years ago? (I had to borrow Billy Bob's toes to figger that out,) Today, we're told those studies prove the Bendix is broken. So why did fish and game continue to manage under a known broken method for over 4 decades, especially after it was confirmed to be broken 15 years later?

    The weirs of the last 3 years have shown that the Bendix does not count exact numbers, too, and that the variability in the Didson is less than the Bendix. So weirs and Didson are now going to be used to measure the runs.

    Weir data in the 90's showed the exact same discrepancies. So why wasn't anything done then?

    I don't know if this is the reason, but this will be the result of this shift in technique. Now that a stock of concern has been declared, because of the missed goals as enumerated by the current method, it has been scrapped in favor of a method under which all goals have been achieved. Therefore, no stock of concern. Therefore, no trigger points to close portions of the Central District drift gillnet in season. No data will be available in season to be able to justify closures in season. Only after the fact, after full review of the data and management, may decisions be made for the following season.

    Whatever happened to the stock of (un)concern status that the Su/yentna red salmon currently reside under?

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    Default sockeye still stock of concern

    Willphish4food - the Susitna sockeye are still a stock of yield concern - nothing has changed that so when you imply it has changed it has not. The rationale for the stock of yield concern was because yield has decreased. That is not a conservation concern under the BOF policy and never has been. Reasons for lost yield have to do with production loss from pike systems, beaver dam impacts, and maybe climinate change impacting spawning and rearing areas.

    Second, I recommended weirs back in 1985 because of concern about the Bendix system. What happened in 1985 - a collaspe of oil prices and budget reductions for ADF&G that lasted in UCI commercial fisheries division for years. So a sonar counter that had identified concerns could not be tested with multiple weirs. Each weir costs about 25 k while a sonar counting operation costs about 35k- 150 k vs 35k is a no brainer in a budget collaspe. In addition, ADF&G headquarter staff wanted to try using fish wheels so all species could be estimated. That was tried in two multiple year efforts. They failed.

    However, the Bendix sonar was kept going because we did not have good data on the amount of error. Few systems were counted by weir and not in a consistent way. Therefore, there was no technical data set to reject the sonar.

    Did ADF&G make the right decision to go with mark/recapture back in the late 80's and 90's - in my opinion no but I lost that debate. We can only go forward from here and in that context ADF&G is moving in the right direction.

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    Default another opinion on the meeting the other night

    This is from someone who attended. I don't have permission to post his name as I haven't asked him yet. He probably wouldn't care, and you might hear who he is in time.

    "To All Concerned,


    Below I wrote up a preliminary assessment of what happened at the May 18, 2009 meeting in Wasilla concerning the Commercial Fish Division of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's plans on how it would be managing all salmon stocks headed for streams in the Anchorage and Mat-Su areas this year. I would like to make it clear that these are my views and only my views. Proceedings at the meeting were recorded by the Mat-Su Borough.


    The only people in the room who expressed support for ADF&G's 2009 Commercial Management plans for salmon bound to Northern Cook Inlet streams were the Commercial Fish manager, Jeff Fox and the State Director of Commercial FIsheries, John Hilsinger. Thank you attending Representatives and Senator Huggins and all public participants for letting ADF&G Commercial FIsh Division staff know that their new plans for mismanaging Northern Bound Upper Cook Inlet salmon stocks are UNACCEPTABLE.


    The meeting went well in that it might have raised awareness of how the Commercial Fish Division plans to change management of the Upper Cook Inlet commercial fisheries with a new Yenata / Susitna sockeye salmon goal and assessment method out of regular Board of Fisheries cycle. Certainly ADF&G did not promise anything that gave much hope for meeting the long established sockeye salmon escapement goal for Yentna sockeye salmon in either 2009 or 2010. ADF&G Commercial FIsh Disions is dropping the long established goal and creating a new one measured in such a way as to make it difficult for the public and Board of Fishereies to compare the old and new goals. In addition, with the new goal it seems like ADF&G Commercial FIsh Division is telling the public if any management challenge exists for Northern bound salmon stocks, there may be absolutely too many salmon making it back to Mat-Su and Anchorage area streams -- something which could later be deemed an emergency situation, likely requiring harvest of much more salmon in the commercial fishery. Say WHAT? Is ADF&G ignoring the Board of FIsheries designation of Stock of Yield Concern for Susitna sockeye and creating their own designation of Stock of NO Department Concern? Although ADF&G forecasts call for a lower than average return of sockeye salmon bound for the Yentna River in 2009 manager Jeff Fox indicated no inseason adjustments to the commercial fishery will be needed to meet the new goal, and ADF&G will only be assessing attainment of the goal AFTER the season with the new weir counting method. One good thing was that two Board of FIsheries members Carl Johnstone and Howard Delo attended the meeting and observed ADF&G Commercial Fish Division actions. In addition, Representative Craig Johnson from Anchorage, Representative Bill Stoltze Eagle River/ Mat-Su, Representative Mark Neuman Mat-Su, and Senator Charlie Huggins Mat-Su all attended and expressed outrage at what ADF&G Commercial FIsh Division was attempting to do. Hopefully ADF&G's suggested plan for managing the Upper Cook Inlet Commercial Fishery in 2009 will be reevaluated.

    By Anchorage Daily News account there were approximately 40 people attending the meeting. Phil Cutler from Alaska Sportfishing Association attended, as did some of the members of the newly formed Mat-Su Angling Club. Jim Stubbs attended for Anchorage Fish and Game Advisory Committee (AC), Tom Payton for Mt. Yenlo AC, Tony Russ and myself for Matanuska Valley AC, and Steve Runyan for Susitna Valley AC. Some local Mat-Su Fishing guides attended. Northern District set netter Kenny Rogers also attended. I saw no one in the room express ANY approval for the new program other than Jeff Fox, the Upper Cook Inlet Commercial Fisheries Manager, and John Hilsinger the State Director of Commercial Fisheries. Are these two individuals representing the best interests of the State? At the Meeting, the Commissioner of FIsh and Game's Communications Director, Jennifer Yuhas, questioned if one or both of them were accurately representing ADF&G's position.

    The discussion on king salmon restrictions to the Commercial and Sport fisheries of Northern District king salmon was also a slap in the face to sport fishermen and the Advisory Committees representing over half of the state's human population, when the Commercial Fisheries Director and the Commercial Fisheries manager both acknowledged there was a down turn in king salmon production from Northern Cook Inlet, but said rather than make any inseason adjustments to regulations the Commercial Fish Division would just follow the regulations in place in the management plan. Jeff Fox went so far as to say that if ADF&G did anything other than follow the management plan regulations or specific instruction from the Board of FIsheries to adjust adjust the commercial fishery for escapement goal shortages, the Department would be violating allocation decisions made by the Alaska Board of Fisheries. This seems in direct opposition to what ADF&G told the Board at both the 2008 Upper Cook Inlet Board of Fisheries meeting and the recent 2009 state wide Board of Fisheries meeting -- that ADF&G could make emergency order changes as needed to manage the Northern District Commercial King Salmon FIshery and Upper Cook Inlet sockeye fisheries to meet escapement goals. Which brings up an obvious question, who is ADF&G Commercial FIsh Division attempting to mislead? 1. The public by saying Commercial Fish Division can not make inseason adjustments to Management Plan Regulations for conservation purposes or 2..the Board of FIsheries by answering direct questions with an affirmative answer that, YES, the Commercial FIsh Division can make emergency orders, as needed, to obtain king salmon and sockeye salmon escapement goals. Why would the Commerical Fish Divison of a Governor (who pledged to provide an open and transparent administration) attempt to mislead either the public or the Alaska Board of Fisheries? Is it possible this Commercial Fish Division is intentionally misleading the public, the Board of FIsheries, and members of the Alaska State Legislature? In this case ADF&G Commercial Fish Division's actions SHOUT, while the ADF&G Commerical Division's spin attempt is woeful, to say the least. When ADF&G Commercial Fish Division refuses to do its job, and, instead, misleads the Public, the Alaska Board of FIsheries, and State Legislators, who has the authority to clean up the mess? Commissioner Lloyd? Governor Palin? The ball is in your court."

    Again, I didn't write this, but it might be of interest to some on the board.
    Last edited by Charholio; 05-22-2009 at 00:06. Reason: explanation of who wrote it

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