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Thread: Fish creek easychair biology 101

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    Member thewhop2000's Avatar
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    Default Fish creek easychair biology 101

    OK, I am not a scientist or a biologist. What I do know is for over 15 years fish creek has not met it's escapement goal but for the last two. We have been able to dipnet the creek for the last two years cause the upper limit set, 70,000 fish would be met.
    I have been told for years that beaver dams, habitat degradation from no zoning and other habitat issues and a myriad of other problems were to blame.
    So what changed? Did somebody start blowing up beaver dams and enforcing non -existing laws on creek pollution? I'm confused?
    Recently a retired fish biologist and past board member of the BOF said that emergency openers for the comfishers were curtailed early on due to the projected run strength of the sockeye, which proved to be wrong later in the season.
    So... does this tell us interception was or is the main cause of the fish creek boom or bust fishery? Is the drift fleet the cause of the fish creek boom or bust?
    What steps are being taken to address the stock of concern status for the northern fishery? I have not seen any dramatic change to address that issue.
    One of you easy chair managers or wanna-bees care to chime in? I'm not setting up a premise to come back with something I'm holding up my sleeve, I really want to know.
    Please chime in with your thoughts but this is exactly the same question I am going to ask comfish/sports bio's when they show up at the valley this coming Wednesday evening. Just thought I would give you all a chance to chime in.
    If a dipnetter dips a fish and there is no one around to see/hear it, Did he really dip?

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    Don't believe e.o.s for the drift fleet have anything to do with it. These take place in the Kenai and Kasilof corridors and the harvest of Fisf Creek sockeye would be minimal

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    Gunner, until I see an in-season DNA take on this fishery, for a period of at least five years, I disagree. Some new information is now forthcoming that says a lot of the sockeye entering cook inlet come up north before heading back to the Kenai/Kasilof. A state legislature told me this just last week and he was told by fish and game, but until I have the Data, I'm just like you with my personal beliefs and no numbers to back it up.
    Can you honestly tell me that Kenai/Kasilof fish swim straight to the mouths of their respective rivers? It's like trying to say that only sockeye's that are headed to the Kenai, school up in their own respective schools out in the inlet. I don't believe that for a minute. When a school of fish get together, it's like watching a herd of Caribou. They swim together for a while but eventually scatter and then re-group. Happens many times, just look how herring behave.
    I see studies but then I see what happened this year with the counting of Kings in the Kenai and then all bets are off. The numbers look good until they are called on them and then it's " we just don't have enough information" but we are banking on those numbers. Might as well throw a dart at a dartboard. Got facts? I'm willing to listen but the more information I read, the more confused I get.
    Besides, the retired bio that called it like I quoted earlier is no newcomer. He retired after 30 years with the Ak. Department. PM me and I will give you his e-mail address and you can argue with him!!!
    If a dipnetter dips a fish and there is no one around to see/hear it, Did he really dip?

  4. #4

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    Don't mean to start an argument with you or the retired biologist. You asked for easychair biologists or wannabes to chime in, so I did. My understanding is that the Kenai and Kasilof corridors were put in place to maximize kenai and kasilof sockeye harvests with minimal interception of northern district fish. If its not working then lets do away with them and give the drift fleet more district wide openers.

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    Gunner, the fish go where they go, not where we think them to be. Those corridors are just a line in the sand, not a demarcation point or line. Glad you chimed in cause that is what I want,... more imput. Nerka has thrown facts at me before but methinks the situation is more fluid than it used to be. Time will tell... tight lines and don't ever apoligise to me again about taking a different position. I love having people make me think what I think I know!!!
    If a dipnetter dips a fish and there is no one around to see/hear it, Did he really dip?

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    Whop - on this one you need some education and review of past reports. I can tell you that the biologist you talked with - I know him well does not have a clue on Fish Creek and commercial fishery data.

    For the record, Fish Creek fish have a distinct scale pattern and there are numerous reports over the past 30 years that point out the Fish Creek total return and harvest estimates by the commercial fishery.

    Also, the issues of habitat degradation are well documented in the system. For example the weir at the outlet was recently removed that opened up area for spawning and rearing, the Meadow Creek stock was totally eliminated but replanted in recent years, the lake has been designated an impaired water body for well documented reasons - that does not mean that a year class will fail every year or that marine survival does not compensate for lower freshwater survival. In summary, Fish Creek is a mess from a habitat view, is a mess from past hatchery practices by the State, and therefore looking for a single variable to explain the data set is a mistake.

    The exploitation rate on Fish Creek however is fairly low if you look up the data. These small fish tend to go through the gear or avoid it by their migratory patterns. A test fishery has been conducted in the past looking for Fish Creek fish and they do not just move through in a random pattern. They do prefer certain shorelines and areas of the inlet.

    So in summary it would take a very significant effort to put this all together and frankly that biologist who worked for years in the valley never did it or showed any desire to do it - he would have rather given the end of the funnel speech year after year. Sorry for being so blunt but in this case that is the best way to start. I would suggest that at your meeting you ask for a complete evaluation of the Fish Creek stock and a stock status report prepared that summarizes the historical data, on the history of the hatchery practices, on the water quality of the lake and what DEC and ADF&G plan to do about it, and what the harvest estimates are for the various fisheries. In that way you have a comprehensive report from which to plan and make decisions. ADF&G would do well to take some of that wasted mark/recapture money and use it for this purpose. Just my comments from a easychair biologist -

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    That's what I was looking for... as an easy chair bio...
    If a dipnetter dips a fish and there is no one around to see/hear it, Did he really dip?

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    Fish Creek has been one of the most mismanaged streams of Cook Inlet; the recovery of the Sockeye Salmon return is most amazing. Considering that less than 10 years ago the stream was in serious trouble that the Sockeye Salmon were declared a stock of concern by the Board of Fisheries, the degradation was caused by overfishing at the mouth of Fish Creek, ill managed stocking program that restricted the natural migration of returning salmon stocks until they were ripe and ready for collection for use in the stocking program. Those not used were too far along in to reach their native spawning grounds. Another problem was a coffer dam that was constructed at the outlet of Big Lake that became a major migration stopper for spawning salmon. Several positive actions, removal of the **** an retuning the stream bed to a more natural condition at the outlet of Big Lake, the stock stocking of the ill-conceived stocking program and the s program this is replacing culverts that were impeding the migration of salmon. The only dark cloud on the horizon is a proposal to reopen the commercial fishery at the mouth of Fish Creek and the remainder of the Knik Arm. This could undue the positive efforts by many people that has been accomplished. The reopening of commercial fishing in the Knik Arm can not be allowed. Big Fisherman

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    Look at parent year numbers for the last two runs. The '09 and '10 returns were 3-5 fish per spawner. Their parent years were a return of less than 1 fish per spawner. With habitat supposedly responsible for those dismal numbers, the creek should continue to be in decline. Yet it produced great returns the last two years, with no human manipulation of habitat. So should logical people still blame habitat as the main culprit, and put blinders on to other possible contributors to low returns?

    Because of low sockeye returns to the Kenai in '09, ALL commercial fishing inlet wide was closed, resulting in 9 days straight of no commercial fishing. Leading up to that, it was managed fairly tightly, with very little EO liberalization. Fish Creek saw a terrific return and a week of dipnetting.

    In 2010, due to low projections for the Kenai, EO authority in the commercial season was limited in the early part of the run, and only later in the run expanded to the full complement of weekly EO's allowed by the BOF. Areawide drift fishing by EO only began in the latter part of the run. Fish Creek saw nearly a 5:1 return, even with a week of dipnetting.

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    This is not correct. The closure in 09 was at the end of the season so 09 and 10 were managed up front very similar. No restrictions were in place that were not in the management plans.

    Next, marine survival can easily make a swing of three fold in survival -

    It is too simplistic to do what willphish4food is trying to do with this subject - the Department has estimates of Fish Creek harvest - why not cite those and see what the actual harvest was instead of guessing?

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    Link to commercial EO's in '09. Yes, as Nerka says, the closure in '09 was at the end of the season. So were the huge escapements through the weir at Fish Creek and subsequent opening to dipnetting. Is it simplistic to tie closures in the drift fleet to escapements in Upper Cook Inlet? You be the judge. See the EO's, see the subsequent escapement. Yah, I think its as simple as that.

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    It ain't Rocket Science guys. Nets in the water stop fish. Take the nets out of the water and the fish swim to their intended destination. Hence the term: Curtain of Death. How much more simplistic can one make it. All one has to do is correlate Commercial Harvests w/Sportfish Harvest w/Dipnet Harvest vs escapement. Even a fifth grader could do this, given the numbers and given the numbers are truthful and accurate. If not, then it can only lead to speculation on anyone's part.
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    Isn't Fish Creek still seeing returns from hatchery fish? If that is the case, then return per spawner ratios would need to take into account all the fry and smolt dumped into the system from the hatchery. Will - do you have stocking numbers that you can post? Have you taken those stockings into account when you provided the return per spawner information? I'm not sure when the stocking ended and when returns to Fish Creek will no longer include hatchery fish.

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    Quote Originally Posted by willphish4food View Post
    Link to commercial EO's in '09. Yes, as Nerka says, the closure in '09 was at the end of the season. So were the huge escapements through the weir at Fish Creek and subsequent opening to dipnetting. Is it simplistic to tie closures in the drift fleet to escapements in Upper Cook Inlet? You be the judge. See the EO's, see the subsequent escapement. Yah, I think its as simple as that.
    Willphish4food is deceiving us as usual...

    First, what Willphish4food isn't telling you is that Fish Creek escapements were already met in '09 and '10, before the commercial closures and huge escapements came through. He isn't telling you this because he knows it shows that escapements were easily made while coinciding with the commercial fishery, that the commercial fishery isn't taking all of Fish Creek's fish, and in fact the management plans can and do work.

    Second, Willphish4food would like you to believe that huge escapements in Fish Creek are a great thing. Unfortunately they are not a sign of management success. When the upper range of the goal is exceeded, like in '09 and '10, it is an escapement failure. Optimum yields will not be met. A potential for productivity problems will exist. It is evidence the commercial fishery did not harvest enough Fish Creek sockeye.

    Third, while dipnetters enjoy Fish Creek dipnet openings, they are not a good thing from a management perspective...Unlike the Kenai dipnet fishery, the Fish Creek dipnet opener can only be triggered by lost yields, overescapements, and not meeting goals. Exactly why dipnetting doesn't happen every year on Fish Creek.

    Finally, big returns to Fish Creek are not a sign that productivity and habitat concerns are a fallacy. In fact large fluxuations in returns are exactly the things that define productivity and habitat issues. Fish Creek's habitat issues are clearly documented, and it's productivity clearly unpredictable. That is why the goal range is so wide and there are in-season triggers for everything from commercial EO's to dipnet openings.

    The last thing Fish Creek needs is "easychair Biology 101", simplistic-based ideologies, and deceiving half-baked theories. What it needs are proper representation of its facts and data, along with scientific rationale. Willphish4food has access to that info, but it's easier for him to post emotional theories tying commercial closures to Fish Creek overescapements than it is tie commercial openings with meeting goals. And that is a shame.

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    No one ever said willphish4food was not simplistic. Gramps has it right. Akres, I would like to see your correlations as they do not exist and never have. Making up stuff is not science. Just for the record mesh size has a lot to do with exploitation rate and Fish Creek fish are small and tend to go through the gear. So your curtain of death is just plain old simplistic thinking - which you think is fine in a complex world.

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    I would say that the reason that Fish Creek has unpredicatable returns is because we don't really fully know what is going on. Those that want to argue that, well ok, go ahead, but if we knew what was going on, we would be able to predict what has been unpredictable. So far, that really hasn't happened. As Grampy points out, the range of the goal is huge, further supporting that there are so many variables in this system it is hard to figure out what is going to come back. While I suspect some would like to just look at the last two years and point to Fish Creek's sucess to the commercial fleet sitting idle, I'm not convinced this is entirely true as wasn't the commercial fleet sitting idle at other times in the past when the run completely flopped? I don't really remember for sure, but it does seem that is the case. If somebody, and I sure somebody does have this data, then how does one explain that?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nerka View Post
    No one ever said willphish4food was not simplistic. Gramps has it right. Akres, I would like to see your correlations as they do not exist and never have. Making up stuff is not science. Just for the record mesh size has a lot to do with exploitation rate and Fish Creek fish are small and tend to go through the gear. So your curtain of death is just plain old simplistic thinking - which you think is fine in a complex world.
    Never said the correlation ever existed. I said, that a fifth grader could do it though. It is simple math, that is a smaller fish gets through a net (aka Curtain of Death, in the industry) that it will get counted in one of the other factors. No one suggested "Making up stuff", other than YOU. Simplistic, you betcha, just use the numbers instead of your "Science". Seems to me that Science has failed us, so why not give simple math a try? Ya', I know, the Professionals will turn a simple Addition/Subtraction Problem into a equation involving Calculous, Trigonometry and heaven forbid, the mystical Algebra formulas, where you take multiply two unknowns,compound it by a common denominator and derive at a number that is so far fetched, as to be incomprehendable to the laymen.
    Just for the record, Nerka could you be so kind to mention the actual numbers of Mortality/Failure to Spawn/Can't Spawn due to injuries sustained from the net, even though they made it through it? As I recall, it was somewhere in the neighborhood of 7 out of 10.
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    Akres, how has science failed us? It would seem to me that in this complex mix-stocked salmon fishery that we can't get enough science. So how would simple math, and your simplistic curtain of death philosophy lead to, what you would call, success?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grampyfishes View Post
    Akres, how has science failed us? It would seem to me that in this complex mix-stocked salmon fishery that we can't get enough science. So how would simple math, and your simplistic curtain of death philosophy lead to, what you would call, success?
    A good long read of the Historical Record will tell the tale.
    I figured it would seem that way to you.
    By applying the calcuations derived to tell us when the approriate time is, to raise and lower the curtain of death. I would call "success" when PRE-DETERMINED sufficient numbers of healthy spawning salmon reach their spawning grounds to sustain the run. Nothing less. After that, anything goes! Nets, dipping, snagging, sport or commercial. But so far the Science has told us to allow the Commercial take first, the Personal Use take second, the Sport take third and more often than not, there have been to few spawner left to sustain the runs. If we continue doing the same thing over and over again, likely we can expect repeated results.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Akres View Post
    A good long read of the Historical Record will tell the tale.
    I figured it would seem that way to you.
    By applying the calcuations derived to tell us when the approriate time is, to raise and lower the curtain of death. I would call "success" when PRE-DETERMINED sufficient numbers of healthy spawning salmon reach their spawning grounds to sustain the run. Nothing less. After that, anything goes! Nets, dipping, snagging, sport or commercial. But so far the Science has told us to allow the Commercial take first, the Personal Use take second, the Sport take third and more often than not, there have been to few spawner left to sustain the runs. If we continue doing the same thing over and over again, likely we can expect repeated results.
    ...Then you don't believe in Alaska's Consitution, or it's fishery laws and management plans that implement it's proven sustained yield principles, or it's directive that fish be managed for use by the people, subject to preferences among users.

    Because waiting to harvest until the goal is already met will result in lost yields, lower yields, potentially lower production and unsustainable yields, unpredictable swings in returns, and a host of run timing, age class, and genetic issues within systems and their unique tributaries. It would ignore mixed stock implications. You can't just turn salmon off and on like a water faucet (not even with these "curtains of death" that you portray do that). It is a much more complex issue, where simplistic and short-sighted ideologies like yours spell disaster.

    I find nowhere in Alaska's historical record where science has failed us. In fact quite the opposite. What I do find is how things like emotions, politics, economics, special interests, poor management, and misguided uninformed ideologies like you present here, have eroded our fisheries. Even when sonar counts have gone astray, we can't necessarily blame science.

    Your comment about commercial take first, personal use second, sport third, and more often than not too few spawners left to sustain runs, is pure bunk. You need to read the data and management plans. More than half of the last 30 years sockeye escapements in the Kenai have exceeded the top end of goals. These are surplus fish dipnetters and sportfishermen did not, and could not, possibly harvest. Lost yield. Additionally, the Kenai's King and Russian River fisheries are managed first for sport...the commercial fishery is closed for the early run. The late runs are managed with strong consideration for mixed stocks and mixed users. Science doesn't dictate user preference like you say. Our Constitution and proven fishery laws do. Your issues are clearly allocation oriented, and you appear to have things like sustaining runs and sustaining yields intertwined.

    I appreciate your opinions Akres. But again, this is not a simplistic fishery that a fifth-grader could manage with simple math. Sorry.

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