Anyone else heard about this?
Set Net Fishery Targeting Russian River Early Run Sockeye Near the Kenai River Mouth Is an Unexpected, Unacceptable Practice
The Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADF&G) approved set net fishing near the mouth of the Kenai River, as an effort to begin to raise $60,000 to fund a sockeye fishery assessment for the Upper Cook Inlet commercial fishing season in July. This "cost recovery" commercial fishery is operating this week, targeting Russian River early run sockeye and also impacting Kenai River early run kings.
Set net fishing near the mouth of the Kenai River during a time of questionable salmon run strength raises serious, critical questions for and about ADF&G, especially considering the recent early run king salmon closure. Why are priority June sport fisheries are now being targeted specifically to fund a July commercial fisheries monitoring program?
Cost recovery programs are discretionary in nature and could easily be conducted during the July sockeye commercial fisheries. Without ever having been addressed through the Board of Fisheries (BOF) public process, this action by ADF&G is a de facto reallocation of 6,000 fish away from the highly anticipated and popular June sport fishery of Russian River early run sockeye.
ADF&G Commercial Fisheries Division's lack of communication on this set net fishery is stunning in its arrogance. No one in the local community was notified about this controversial fishery prior to its execution at 12:01 am, Tuesday, June 15th, the precise moment the Kenai River reopened to retention of early run king salmon. The action of this set net "cost recovery" fishery is an unexpected, unacceptable practice. The bottom line is that it appears ADF&G has been and is allowing a cost recovery program to be operated by an independent contractor, with little or no oversight and with little or no apparent regard for well established Upper Cook Inlet salmon management plans developed through the BOF public process over many years.
Since 1974, as outlined in the Russian River Sockeye Salmon Management Plan (5 AAC 57.150), the Russian River early run sockeye stocks have been managed as primarily a sport fishery, without directed harvest from any commercial fishery. Additionally, the Kenai River early run King Salmon Management Plan (5 AAC 57.160) states that the department shall manage the Kenai River early run king salmon primarily for sport and guided sport fisheries to achieve the optimal escapement goal. With set nets in the water near the mouth of the Kenai River throughout this week, for long hours unattended, incidental catch of Kenai River early run king salmon is unavoidable just as it is during other commercial set net openings.
The cost recovery program is targeting 6,000 Russian River early run sockeye - it is uncertain at this moment how long the department will have to conduct this fishery until the harvest goal of 6,000 is reached. As of today, less than 500 sockeyes have reached the weir on the Russian River.
As advocates for meaningful and predictable sport fishing opportunity, KRSA finds the situation wrong on many levels and asks that the department stop this discretionary set net "cost recovery" fishery immediately.
We encourage you to contact ADF&G Commercial Fisheries Division, the Governor's office, and your local legislators to voice your opinion on this important issue.
Director of Commercial Fisheries
John Hilsinger: 907-267-2324
Governor Sean Parnell: 907-269-7450
Representative Mike Chenault: 907-283-7223
Representative Kurt Olson: 907-283-2690
Additionally, members of the Alaska Board of Fisheries can be reached through BOF Executive Director, Jim Marcotte at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for your time and consideration of this important alert from Kenai River Sportfishing Association.
View the current counts and projections for the 2010 Kenai River king salmon early run here...
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