The current 44-55” non-retention slot was enacted to help protect declining numbers of large 5-ocean kings in the early run. It was an important step in the right direction, however, many of the 5-ocean kings saved in May-June become fair game for harvest in July. These fish are believed to be the backbone of the mainstem-spawning component of the early run. Many believe that a major part of the problem in the decline of ER5-o kings is that these fish are being yarded off their redds through all of July. The legal harvest of ER5-o kings in July is obviously counter-productive to their restoration.
The BOF addressed this issue partially by extending the slot out to mid July above Soldotna bridge. Yes, another step in the right direction, but still inadequate to protect ER5-o mainstem spawners. Here’s why.
ADFG’s limited ER transmitter data from the Bendock study showed that about one in five ER kings are mainstem spawners and the median spawning activity took place July 19. A slot thru July 14 does not even begin to protect these fish thru their peak spawning activity.
The transmitters showed that 27% of mainstem spawners use the lower river (RM 12-21, below the Soldotna bridge) while 45% used the middle reach (RM 21-39, bridge to Naptowne Rapids). If you look at those numbers and compare the actual amount of habitat available for spawning, there are 9 miles in the lower reach and 18 miles in the middle reach. From the standpoint of spawners per mile, the data suggests there is actually a greater density of lower river spawners than middle river spawners! The way I see it, mainstem ER5-o spawners in the lower river require just as much protection as those in the middle river.
As one of the vocal proponents that helped to make the slot limit a reality, I believe strongly in the concept, but I am concerned that the way it is being applied to the river significantly undermines its intended objective.
From another thread:
Your thoughts?The merits of the slot-limit in conserving large early run fish is unquestionable! The problem is not the concept, it's the way it is being executed. Lifting the slot on July 1 is like putting on a long sleeve shirt first thing in the morning to prevent a sunburn, then taking it off at two in the afternoon.... you're gonna get burnt! That strategy severely undermines the odds that the slot limit will achieve its intended purpose....