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  • 2019 Cook Inlet Salmon Management

    I'd like to hear folks opinion on how Cook Inlet salmon fishery was managed this year, now that its about over. Cook Inlet may be the most difficult and contentious fishery in the state. I feel like we wasted an enormous amount of the sockeye resource based on the huge over escapement in both the Kenai and Kasilof Rivers. We're struggling to meet King Salmon escapement yet the river never went any further than no bait restriction. Tools were not utilized to harvest sockeye, but not kings. I think there was 1 half mile opener and 1 600' opener.
    Anyone care to share their opinion on how things could have been done differently? I am not criticizing fish and game to be clear. Its a horribly difficult job to be sure and hind sight is 100% of course. But maybe ideas for improvement could be shared.

  • #2
    Kasilof has not had any overescapement....still below the threshold of the OEG....
    "– Gas boats are bad enough, autos are an invention of the devil, and airplanes are worse." ~Allen Hasselborg

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    • #3
      Rick Green is bragging that Cook Inlet is “fixed”. Says that was a priority for Dunleavy.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by AKBC View Post
        Rick Green is bragging that Cook Inlet is “fixed”. Says that was a priority for Dunleavy.
        It's" fixed" alright. And Rick Green will wish he still had his talk show soon, when Alaskans show Dunleavy the door.

        Comment


        • #5
          Just for clarification my comment is not personal but a professional evaluation. Here are my concerns. 1. This is the first time a Commissioner has basically managed the fishery and over ruled local staff. That has a number of consequences. First it negates the Area management concept and move major decisions to Juneau. Next it demoralizes the staff and reduced them to pawns. It also means a Commissioner with little to no management experience in UCI is making critical calls without understanding the complex nature of UCI regulatory history. 2. This is the first Commissioner that is making calls to favor one user group over another - in short allocating fish outside the allocation plans of the Board of Fish. 3. The Commissioner in-season decisions have resulted in significant large escapements in both the Kasilof and Kenai River. Those lost yields were made with only consideration to chinook salmon goals and little to no consideration to sockeye goals. Not selectively fishing the Kasilof terminal area is just one example. Not allowing set nets to fish a few hours when the catch would have been over 100,000 sockeye for less than 100 chinook was a bad decision. While one plan says the set net fishery shall close the Brown decision and UCI umbrella plan allows that plan to be ignored when balancing two escapement goals. The lack of any concern for the loss of yield for sockeye is a mistake. Remember the chinook goal is a yield goal not a biological issue. So in summary it is the bad precedents set this year I object too. The idea a Commissioner can come in and fix UCI after 4 decades of public prepared plans is a little off target. The Department to maintain public trust must have the public believe the Department is not allocating fish and is trying to balance competing goals. That is why the Area concept is so important. Local staff from the Divisions know the pitfalls.

          This Commissioner is fixing UCI by driving the commercial fishery to economic collapse for no real benefit. The Commissioner elected to put 3-5 million dollars up the Kenai River for a saving of Kenai chinook of less than 400 fish. I believe good management would have harvested some sockeye when they were thick on the beach and the chinook catch would have been minimal The Commissioner also kept the drift fleet in the corridor to move coho through to Susitna. The problem is that Susitna coho are already through the district when he made the call. Based on where the goals are he gets an D for management and an F for building public trust.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Nerka View Post
            Just for clarification my comment is not personal but a professional evaluation. Here are my concerns. 1. This is the first time a Commissioner has basically managed the fishery and over ruled local staff. That has a number of consequences. First it negates the Area management concept and move major decisions to Juneau. Next it demoralizes the staff and reduced them to pawns. It also means a Commissioner with little to no management experience in UCI is making critical calls without understanding the complex nature of UCI regulatory history. 2. This is the first Commissioner that is making calls to favor one user group over another - in short allocating fish outside the allocation plans of the Board of Fish. 3. The Commissioner in-season decisions have resulted in significant large escapements in both the Kasilof and Kenai River. Those lost yields were made with only consideration to chinook salmon goals and little to no consideration to sockeye goals. Not selectively fishing the Kasilof terminal area is just one example. Not allowing set nets to fish a few hours when the catch would have been over 100,000 sockeye for less than 100 chinook was a bad decision. While one plan says the set net fishery shall close the Brown decision and UCI umbrella plan allows that plan to be ignored when balancing two escapement goals. The lack of any concern for the loss of yield for sockeye is a mistake. Remember the chinook goal is a yield goal not a biological issue. So in summary it is the bad precedents set this year I object too. The idea a Commissioner can come in and fix UCI after 4 decades of public prepared plans is a little off target. The Department to maintain public trust must have the public believe the Department is not allocating fish and is trying to balance competing goals. That is why the Area concept is so important. Local staff from the Divisions know the pitfalls.

            This Commissioner is fixing UCI by driving the commercial fishery to economic collapse for no real benefit. The Commissioner elected to put 3-5 million dollars up the Kenai River for a saving of Kenai chinook of less than 400 fish. I believe good management would have harvested some sockeye when they were thick on the beach and the chinook catch would have been minimal The Commissioner also kept the drift fleet in the corridor to move coho through to Susitna. The problem is that Susitna coho are already through the district when he made the call. Based on where the goals are he gets an D for management and an F for building public trust.
            Thank You for sharing your evaluation. I couldn't agree more.

            Comment


            • #7
              If Kings hadn't been over fished in the river the past 3 or so decades, we would be having decent returns now, and setnet commercial fishing wouldn't need drastic restrictions to help get a few more Kings up the river. Guides targeting Kings should have been reduced to a fraction of the current numbers a LONG time ago. The Kenai should have gone to drift only fishing for Kings years ago. Watch for more in river restrictions in the future, and smaller returns of Kings. Smaller Kings also. The Kings are screwed. Have been for a many years. Slot limits were a poor attempt to try to get a few big Kings to spawn. Didn't work. None of the recent rules have helped much. Too little, too late. The writing has been on the wall for a long time, but has been mostly ignored. They're done. You might see a year or 2 of decent returns in the future, (along with a lot of hand wringing and wailing) but my bet is on a continuing downward spiral of our once great King fishery.
              Hunt Ethically. Respect the Environment.

              Comment


              • #8
                My bet is that extreme measures will be taken for Kenai Kings in the future. And I mean EXTREME measures. Wait and see. There will be a lot of screaming by everyone. Sadly it will be way too late. I think it already is, but that's just my opinion.
                Hunt Ethically. Respect the Environment.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by SmokeRoss View Post
                  If Kings hadn't been over fished in the river the past 3 or so decades, we would be having decent returns now, and setnet commercial fishing wouldn't need drastic restrictions to help get a few more Kings up the river. Guides targeting Kings should have been reduced to a fraction of the current numbers a LONG time ago. The Kenai should have gone to drift only fishing for Kings years ago. Watch for more in river restrictions in the future, and smaller returns of Kings. Smaller Kings also. The Kings are screwed. Have been for a many years. Slot limits were a poor attempt to try to get a few big Kings to spawn. Didn't work. None of the recent rules have helped much. Too little, too late. The writing has been on the wall for a long time, but has been mostly ignored. They're done. You might see a year or 2 of decent returns in the future, (along with a lot of hand wringing and wailing) but my bet is on a continuing downward spiral of our once great King fishery.
                  Care to explain how hatchery kings have struggled in coming back to the freshwater rivers in UCI? Is it too many sport fisherman catching the outgoing fry? How about explaining the Nelson River struggling with their king returns when there’s zero sport fishing.

                  There are no easy answers to the UCI and statewide king decline.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by SmokeRoss View Post
                    If Kings hadn't been over fished in the river the past 3 or so decades, we would be having decent returns now, and setnet commercial fishing wouldn't need drastic restrictions to help get a few more Kings up the river. Guides targeting Kings should have been reduced to a fraction of the current numbers a LONG time ago. The Kenai should have gone to drift only fishing for Kings years ago. Watch for more in river restrictions in the future, and smaller returns of Kings. Smaller Kings also. The Kings are screwed. Have been for a many years. Slot limits were a poor attempt to try to get a few big Kings to spawn. Didn't work. None of the recent rules have helped much. Too little, too late. The writing has been on the wall for a long time, but has been mostly ignored. They're done. You might see a year or 2 of decent returns in the future, (along with a lot of hand wringing and wailing) but my bet is on a continuing downward spiral of our once great King fishery.
                    I’m curious if you know what the harvest rate has been for both the early and late Kenai king runs?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by penguin View Post
                      Care to explain how hatchery kings have struggled in coming back to the freshwater rivers in UCI? Is it too many sport fisherman catching the outgoing fry? How about explaining the Nelson River struggling with their king returns when there’s zero sport fishing.

                      There are no easy answers to the UCI and statewide king decline.
                      Not implying that sportfishing is responsible for any decline in Nelso River chinook stocks, but would like to point out there are two sportfishing lodges on this relatively small river,plus other fly in outfits. Therefore, there is not zero sportfishing on the nelson river.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Excellent post above by nerka but I think he is being conservative in the ammount of lost yield. If you use the midrange of escapement goals for the kenai and kasilof, an additional 625,000 sockeye could have been harvested at an average value of $10.00 each. With the chinook concerns,the drift fleet could (and should) have had additional opportunity to harvest the surplus sockeye with minimal, almost nonexistic impact on chinooks.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by gunner View Post
                          With the chinook concerns,the drift fleet could (and should) have had additional opportunity to harvest the surplus sockeye with minimal, almost nonexistic impact on chinooks.
                          Sorry... there is NO FREE LUNCH in a fully allocated mixed stock fishery. UCI is already K/K-centric to the nth degree. Unleashing the drift fleet on those foregone 625K would have CRUSHED the Northern District escapements for multiple salmonid species.
                          "Let every angler who loves to fish think what it would mean to him to find the fish were gone." Zane Grey
                          sigpic
                          The KeenEye MD

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                          • #14
                            [QUOTE=fishNphysician;1669399]Sorry... there is NO FREE LUNCH in a fully allocated mixed stock fishery. UCI is already K/K-centric to the nth degree. Unleashing the drift fleet on those foregone 625K would have CRUSHED the Nortrn District escapements for multiple salmonid species.[/QUOTE



                            Additional expanded corridor, traditional corridor or area 1 areas could have been utilized to minimize harvest of returns to the environmentally impacted systems of the northern district.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Doc, if allowing the kenai river sport fishery to continue to target kings when escapement goals are not being reached is not a "free lunch" then I don't know what is.

                              Comment

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