UCI corridors for the drift gill net fishery
I was asked to start a new thread to explain the concept of corridors in UCI and the impact on the drift gill net fishery. So here is my shot at it.
Fish movement in UCI: In UCI there are three main tidal rips which salmon use to migrate up the inlet. These are called the east, mid, and west rips. Water coming from the east and west converge in these areas. They gather all types of stuff in them and they are used by salmon as highways. There are smaller rips and fish move between the rips so I am trying to keep this simple.
In the 1980's while working for ADF&G I thought that maybe salmon stocks would separate out in the rips and that selective harvest could be done. That proved not to be the case. In one tagging effort I put out over 800 tags 5 miles off the Kasilof River and had fish move within 2 days into the Northern District, Kenai, Kasilof, and even fish went to the west side to Crescent River. So the idea of clean zones that encompass the rips is not possible.
Fish also move into UCI and hold and mature before moving to the rivers of origin. So early in the season fish that come into the inlet can hold up to 14 days before leaving while fish entering late move through in a couple of days.
Regulatory lines in UCI: In an effort to reduce the exploitation rate on Northern bound stocks the staff drew all types of lines to accomplish this. North/south lines, east/west, curved lines, all types. What we found was that we could not predict anything about where fish would be so we would draw a line and see the results and then adapt with new lines.
However, one thing was obvious. As we got out of the rips and toward the east side beaches the estimate of Northern bound fish went down in the catch. We kept moving the lines closer to shore and finally ended up with one about three miles wide. That is what is presently called the corridor.
One think that was obvious was that overall exploitation rates went down for a period but if you fished lots of corridor periods the exploitation rates stayed high. So fishing 5 days in the corridor could take the same number of fish as fishing one day in the inlet, especially if you allowed the rips to be fished in an expanded corridor- beyond three miles.
What the BOF did this time around: When the Board decided to pull districtwide periods they created an 8 mile corridor as the alternative fishing location. That flies in the face of 30 years of data on what the width of the corridor should be. So either the Board was very ignorant, which I believe, or they were pulling a fast one on the valley folks. I believe Jensen, Webster, and Morse may be in this group since they have UCI experience under their belt.
So the bottom line is that without clear objectives the BOF created all types of emotional damage on a group of fisherman, probably did not accomplish one thing for the valley, and left the meeting in a shambles for lawyers to fight about. Not very responsible in my opinion.
Nerka, I was under the impression that the 8 mile wide corridor expansion option was provided by the Department. The northern district folks were asking for a substantially narrower corridor that did not include the east rip. If I am tracking you correctly, you are saying that the 8 mile corridor does not meet the Board's intent to reduce harvest of northern bound fish?
That is exactly what I am saying and the corridor was not provided by the Department. Webster asked the Department to draw what he wanted and put it in as an RC. I find fault that the Department did not point out the history of the lines on the record. However, in committee B you may not have noticed but Jeff Fox tried to raise his hand and discuss this and Brown would not call on him. I tried to do it also and was not called on by Brown.
Originally Posted by Bfish
If you remember Brown asked UCIDA representatives how big a corridor they wanted. They refused to answer that as it prejudged that they were going to get a corridor. So the Board did this on their own and from the deliberation discussion had no idea what they were doing.
Bottom line - no northern bound fish will be saved if this stands. The funny thing is that UCIDA may sue to stop it since it was a terrible Board process and they have other litigation in the works.
I have been thinking about why this corridor got passed given the players and their influence. For the valley the consultants to them were not that knowledgeable about how fish move in the inlet or the history of the lines. They probably thought that an 8 mile corridor did something. One consultant actually worked for KRSA in the past so I am not sure what his thinking was. The other should know better but he is not a commercial manager and never has understood the drift gill net fishery in the Central District.
However, KRSA consultants are very knowledgeable about the corridor and lines drawn in the past. They knew that going out 8 miles would hit the mid rip and east rip and in point of fact testified how this expanded corridor caught 700,000 fish one year. So what was the game plan. I have no first hand knowledge of this but this is one hypothesis.
KRSA wants the drift fleet to catch most of the sockeye salmon to reduce the fishing time on the eastside beach. They even had a proposal in to decouple the set from the drift gill net fleet relative to fishing time. So the intent here was clear - more drift harvest less eastside beach fishing time.
Next, they needed the support of the valley for political reasons. They could not tell the valley that this was their game plan. So what to do. Tell the valley they supported an expanded corridor that would save northern bound fish. The consultants and people in the valley would not know the truth. So here is where KRSA has their cake and can eat it too. They push a restriction on drift gill net fishing time to make it look like the harvest will be reduced on stocks going north. They cannot use the present corridor since they know that it is not effective and if Kenai fish get by the eastside set nets fish more. So expand the corridor to make it look like a restriction but in point of fact is not.
I must say if this was the game plan it was brilliant. It worked to a tee. The Board members did not know, the valley folks did not know, those of us who wanted to speak were not allowed or were ignored from character assassination.
Nice job, if this is what they did. Otherwise I must conclude the whole bunch from KRSA and the valley were ignorant and did not understand fish movement. Northern District fish will not be saved with the exanded corridor.
Nerka good points, although in the July 9th to July 16th period where drifters are required to fish at least one regular period in this expanded corridor, during this time most of the fish will still be south and mostly on the west side so I highly doubt their harvest will come anywhere close to 700,000 (probably not even a 100,000). The other period the ADF&G comm. fish managers have the discretion to use either the expanded corridor or give them area 1 based upon the fish escapements that year. In ending the drifters will probably take a little hit because last year July 12th i believe was their big day, but I don't think they will take much of a hit and I don't think hardly any more susitna fish will get through with these changed regulations.
Nerk, sometimes a banana is just a banana.
That may be but sometime it looks like a banana and it is the shaft.
Originally Posted by Bfish
I'm not sure if Nerka's characterization of the new corridor is correct or not. What I will say is that the biologist who spoke to the expanded corridor was very evasive. The board tried very hard to get a straight answer about the numbers of fish that would be caught in the new corridor. He wouldn't give much solid data, and even said something to the effect that the drift fleet didn't catch many fish there. That was very misleading, if not an outright lie, as the drift fleet is very effective when allowed to fish that area.
Don't blame it all on people at the meeting not knowing the fishery very well. I lay a lot of the blame on the Department for not providing the board with hard data on past harvests in the newly expanded area. The testimony from the commercial manager that I heard did not sound like it was coming from an allocative neutral department, but one with personal agendas involved.
This is not totally correct willphish4food. I tried to explain it to the committee and was not called on and then told by Johnstone that our group was not telling the truth on matters - so the Board really did not want to know. The commercial fisheries biologists was correct in saying he could not predict the harvest. It depends on how fish move and when. The Board did not want to hear from the staff. The Commercial biologist also had his hand up to speak to this in committee and Brown would not call on him.
Originally Posted by willphish4food
I do agree with you that both sport fish and commercial fisheries staff did not answer questions to the best of their abilities. They were evasive at times and what I have found out since the meeting is that they may have been told not to engage much in the debate. The Director of Commercial Fisheries let is slip that the Gov had called and influenced the discussion. Not sure what that means and how the Board reacted but some of the staff did feel that a full discussion and engagement was not wanted by the Board or political powers.
I have seen this in the past when KRSA and Bob Penney gets involved and have had the Gov call during Board meetings to try and influence the outcome. I have seen the present Commissioner's father tell them to take a hike and other Board chairmans try to implement the Gov. desire so who knows.
Bottom line - this Board meeting was a mess from all sides. It should be a do over.
Sorry, Nerka. I'm just referring to the final discussion of the proposal by the board, before passage. Listening to the discussion on line was very frustrating, as I'm sure it was in person, too, because I just wanted to say "show me the numbers!" Quit speaking in generalities, and show the numbers to verify those generalities. "Don't catch many fish" what does that mean? Won't make much difference, on most years= quantify it! It was maddening, to say the least. Is that truly "the best data available?" The board is charged with making its decisions based upon "the best available science." Who is going to provide that for them?