This seems to be the crux of the issue. All that we talk about boils down to allocation. So what would happen if there were no sport or PU fishing on the Kenai, and 100% of the reds were allocated to commercial?
A couple figures... In 1994 Cook Inlet sockeye was $1.45 lb. 2007- $1.00. Today- Cook Inlet sockeye is at $1.40 a pound.
In 1994 a gallon of diesel was $1.10. Today it is $3.50. Inflation overall has been at roughly 2.5% over that period of time. Other than fuel, the price of other goods has gone up about 45% due to inflation- yet sockeye prices are nearly identical; actually a nickel less. 2 years ago it was $1 per pound. Had it just kept pace with inflation, it should be $2.10 per pound. Instead, by staying the same price as 15 years ago, it has lost nearly half its value.
In other words, to realize the same gains on fish that a fisherman did in '94, he has to hope that prices stay level or grow each year, and catch 50% more fish than he did then. (I say 50%, but that's probably low as the price of fuel has more than tripled.) The other alternative is to somehow trim half his operating costs, without cutting crew. (to cut crew would not be making the same gains)
There's not many ways for the commercial fleet to accomplish this. They can a) have more fish made available to them as a whole, or b) reduce the size of the fleet, so fewer boats share the fish available. c) find a more economic way to harvest the fish that are currently allocated. d) develop niche markets that bring their fish a higher value than the processors are paying.
What we hear most from all user groups is "give us more fish." At 80% allocation (for Kenai reds), there's only 20% left. Yet 50% is needed to break even. So even with 100% allocation, commercial guys will still be going broke.
What is the solution?