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  • #16
    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.
    I didn't say squat about hatchery Kings.
    Hunt Ethically. Respect the Environment.

    Comment


    • #17
      Originally posted by aktally View Post
      I’m curious if you know what the harvest rate has been for both the early and late Kenai king runs?
      Too many. Plus the stress of catch and release. I know the studies say only a small percentage of Kings die after C&R, but when the study sample is on your boat, you will do all you can to get that fish in quickly, keep it in the water, and release it correctly. The study does not take into account the tourist that snags one and fights it for an hour or more, drags it out of the water for a bunch of pics and then dumps it back in. Those fish die. Every time.
      Hunt Ethically. Respect the Environment.

      Comment


      • #18
        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.
        Originally posted by SmokeRoss View Post
        Too many. Plus the stress of catch and release. I know the studies say only a small percentage of Kings die after C&R, but when the study sample is on your boat, you will do all you can to get that fish in quickly, keep it in the water, and release it correctly. The study does not take into account the tourist that snags one and fights it for an hour or more, drags it out of the water for a bunch of pics and then dumps it back in. Those fish die. Every time.
        You say that the kings have been overfished and when asked if you know the harvest rate you reply "too many". How many is too many? Do you know what a sustainable harvest rate is for king salmon? Do you know how many times the late-run king salmon escapement goal has not been met? If the escapement goal is achieved, has the stock been over fished?
        I'm asking these questions because it is important in understanding the decline in production of Kenai River king salmon.

        Comment


        • #19
          Originally posted by gunner View Post
          It's" fixed" alright. And Rick Green will wish he still had his talk show soon, when Alaskans show Dunleavy the door.
          Fixed? There it is again fix Cook Inlet who fixed it? Some contractors? You have to be kidding. If you value the environment salmon live which includes the water in Cook Inlet Yes the door is wide open for them to leave.

          Comment


          • #20
            Originally posted by aktally View Post
            You say that the kings have been overfished and when asked if you know the harvest rate you reply "too many". How many is too many? Do you know what a sustainable harvest rate is for king salmon? Do you know how many times the late-run king salmon escapement goal has not been met? If the escapement goal is achieved, has the stock been over fished?
            I'm asking these questions because it is important in understanding the decline in production of Kenai River king salmon.
            It doesn't take a mental giant to know these Kings have been over fished. I've been here since 1980. I remember the days of big Kings, and they were abundant. Along comes an ever increasing guided sport fishery and the numbers begin dropping as does the size. Every year. Effort increases, King numbers decrease. Sure they have likely had problems in the ocean also, but to continue to put more fishermen on the spawning beds has not helped.
            If you want to compare harvest rates, look them up yourself. In my opinion whatever someone thinks is sustainable is their own opinion. It's obvious to me that what is happening now, and in the past 20 plus years is not working. Todays escapement goals (again my opinion) are too low, and too late. The days when you could take your mom out on the river and have her boat a 75 pound King are gone. Hell if someone catches a 50 pounder these days it's likely to make the front page of the news paper. My largest King was 85 pounds. A lot of years ago. Early 80's. When was the last time you heard of someone bagging one like that? They're gone. Mismanaged. They won't be back.
            Hunt Ethically. Respect the Environment.

            Comment


            • #21
              Let's look at some of the things that have been done. Things that were helpful. Then let's talk about what has NOT been done. First thing I remember is the horsepower reduction. One of my first rides on the river (released 2 over 50 that day) I was in a 24 foot boat with a 351 Ford inboard and a jet drive. We slammed the Kings. Then came boat size restrictions. O.k. Somewhere along the line came drift only days. Then restrictions on fishing in certain areas like the mouth of Slikok Creek. All well and good. Then bank restoration work. That's good. Open walkways. Another good idea. 50 foot setbacks. Another good thing. What wasn't done. A limit or reduction in the number of guides. IMO that should have been done long ago. Many long time locals begged for it but it fell on deaf ears. Hardly any long time residents that I know who used to target Kings on the Kenai do that any longer. Most gave it up a long time ago. The river has become a zoo. The Kings are gone. It's no longer the fishery it used to be.
              Hunt Ethically. Respect the Environment.

              Comment


              • #22
                Originally posted by cdubbin View Post
                Kasilof has not had any overescapement....still below the threshold of the OEG....
                Went over the top on Aug 4...

                https://www.adfg.alaska.gov/sf/FishC...&SpeciesID=420
                "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

                Comment


                • #23
                  OEG is 160-390K. BEG is 160-340K. Kasilof as of 11 AUG is at 376K.

                  Originally posted by fishNphysician View Post

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    Originally posted by SmokeRoss View Post
                    Let's look at some of the things that have been done. Things that were helpful. Then let's talk about what has NOT been done. First thing I remember is the horsepower reduction. One of my first rides on the river (released 2 over 50 that day) I was in a 24 foot boat with a 351 Ford inboard and a jet drive. We slammed the Kings. Then came boat size restrictions. O.k. Somewhere along the line came drift only days. Then restrictions on fishing in certain areas like the mouth of Slikok Creek. All well and good. Then bank restoration work. That's good. Open walkways. Another good idea. 50 foot setbacks. Another good thing. What wasn't done. A limit or reduction in the number of guides. IMO that should have been done long ago. Many long time locals begged for it but it fell on deaf ears. Hardly any long time residents that I know who used to target Kings on the Kenai do that any longer. Most gave it up a long time ago. The river has become a zoo. The Kings are gone. It's no longer the fishery it used to be.
                    The loss of Chinook salmon stocks on the Kenai River is both sad and tragic. However, the specific cause for the decline is not as clear as we might think. I agree that recreational angling on the Kenai is a likely contributor. And it’s also very visible. But Chinook salmon stocks have collapsed in other rivers in Alaska that have almost no habitat or harvest issues.

                    Perhaps the most obvious example is the Karluk and Ayakulik Rivers on Kodiak Island. Both rivers originate on National Wildlife Refuge lands, have pristine habitat conditions, and very light harvest from recreational angling and subsistence fishing. But the Chinook stocks have collapsed completely. The reasons are not obvious. Here’s an article from a couple years ago:

                    https://www.adn.com/fishing/article/...rs/2015/04/08/

                    As I have said on this forum in the past, if the Chinook salmon stocks on the Kenai and elsewhere in Alaska collapsed as a result of ocean harvest (e.g., GoA), the results would be identical to what we’re seeing now.

                    That is, low numbers of spawning adults and a reduction in size-at-maturity. The reduction in size-at-maturity is particularly troubling since recreational angling (and commercial fishing in UCI) won’t directly reduce size-at-maturity of the adults the way ocean harvest would.

                    Recall that ocean harvest targets these fish while they are in the ‘active feeding’ stage of their life history. Harvesting in the ocean therefore cuts short any further growth the adults might attain. Not so for freshwater recreational angling (again, ditto for commercial fishing in UCI). Recreational angling targets the adults after they have achieved their terminal body size.

                    Since adult Chinook returning to UCI and in the Kenai River have already reached their terminal body size, they ain’t gettin’ any bigger. So recreational angling cannot directly reduce size-at-maturity. But it can indirectly reduce size-at- maturity by harvesting the largest individuals hereby leaving the smaller adults to spawn. By increasing the number of smaller adults on the spawning grounds, it increases the genetic probability of smaller size-at-maturity in the future.

                    But that answer is considerably more complicated than high ocean harvest. I’m not saying ocean harvest is the sole cause for the decline, but in my view, the circumstantial evidence is persuasive for the Kenai, the Karluk, the Ayakulik, and perhaps other rivers in the Great Land.

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      Originally posted by NorcalBob View Post
                      OEG is 160-390K. BEG is 160-340K. Kasilof as of 11 AUG is at 376K.
                      I stand corrected. CommFish Hotline says they're done counting for the year.
                      "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

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        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.
                        I would say that this post demonstrates exactly why it is essential for the commissioner to weigh in on difficult management decisions in Cook Inlet. As we all well know, this is a very complex fishery harvesting mixed stocks and species that support a variety of commercial, personal use, sport and subsistence fisheries. Fish runs are dynamic, varying from year to year and day to day in unpredictable patterns of abundance and timing which requires intensive inseason management in an attempt to meet established escapement goals to sustain future production, and to allocate harvest and opportunities among the users. Over the years, some fairly complicated management plans have been developed by the Board of Fisheries to provide guidance particularly with respect to allocation. However, because of the dynamic and unpredictable nature of salmon it is often not possible to meet every goal or plan provision in every year.

                        Thus in years like this one, decisions have to be made on which goals will be met and which ones will not. Same for which plan provisions will be followed and which will not. Any such decision to favor one goal over another or one plan over another inevitably has significant allocation implications for fisheries throughout the inlet. Allocation decisions are the responsibility of the board of fisheries. They are not within the purview of the area management staff. Area management staff are also not always in a very good position to weigh the implications and tradeoffs to other fisheries outside their immediate responsibility. Asking or expecting the area management staff to make these calls places them in a very unfair position - picking winners and losers among the fisheries severely damages their credibility. (You yourself have been tarred with that brush.) These kinds of difficult decisions are why the commissioner (with input from directors, regional and area staffs) get paid the big bucks. It is their responsibility to weigh the information and recommendations of their staffs, to put their staffs in the best possible position to succeed, to protect staff from having to make allocation calls, and to interpret or clarify direction from the Board of Fisheries where appropriate.

                        Your Kenai sockeye vs. Kenai kings example illustrates the challenges here. This year a decision had to made on whether it was more important to try to meet the low end of the king goal than to avoid exceeding the top end of the sockeye inriver and escapement goals. It sounds like your recommendation would have been to prioritize commercial harvest of the "excess" sockeye even though doing so would have driven king escapements to even lower levels below goals than they are currently at and perhaps also harvesting significant numbers of northern bound coho which sound like they may also be falling short of goals. This requires a value judgement on the relative importance of tradeoffs in current and future yields of sockeye vs. kings vs. coho and the fishery implications of those tradeoffs. As a private citizen it is your prerogative to argue for one value or another based on your value judgements. As an area manager, this would have been absolutely inappropriate.
                        You are also arguing that the department must not allocate fish or try to balance competing goals. But that is exactly what you are saying area management staffs should do. I would argue that there is no way to avoid trying to balance competing goals, that these decisions inevitably have allocation implications and that this responsibility is that of commissioner rather than the area management staff, In fact, the umbrella Upper Cook Inlet Management Plan adopted by the Board specifically reserves the commissioner's management authority in cases where management plans and escapement goals collide. It doesn't say anything about the area management's authority in this circumstance.

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          Thanks Bfish. It's enlightening to hear the "other side of the story" every now and then. I do wish you'd post here more often, but I completely understand why you don't.
                          Originally posted by Bfish View Post
                          I would say that this post demonstrates exactly why it is essential for the commissioner to weigh in on difficult management decisions in Cook Inlet. As we all well know, this is a very complex fishery harvesting mixed stocks and species that support a variety of commercial, personal use, sport and subsistence fisheries. Fish runs are dynamic, varying from year to year and day to day in unpredictable patterns of abundance and timing which requires intensive inseason management in an attempt to meet established escapement goals to sustain future production, and to allocate harvest and opportunities among the users. Over the years, some fairly complicated management plans have been developed by the Board of Fisheries to provide guidance particularly with respect to allocation. However, because of the dynamic and unpredictable nature of salmon it is often not possible to meet every goal or plan provision in every year.

                          Thus in years like this one, decisions have to be made on which goals will be met and which ones will not. Same for which plan provisions will be followed and which will not. Any such decision to favor one goal over another or one plan over another inevitably has significant allocation implications for fisheries throughout the inlet. Allocation decisions are the responsibility of the board of fisheries. They are not within the purview of the area management staff. Area management staff are also not always in a very good position to weigh the implications and tradeoffs to other fisheries outside their immediate responsibility. Asking or expecting the area management staff to make these calls places them in a very unfair position - picking winners and losers among the fisheries severely damages their credibility. (You yourself have been tarred with that brush.) These kinds of difficult decisions are why the commissioner (with input from directors, regional and area staffs) get paid the big bucks. It is their responsibility to weigh the information and recommendations of their staffs, to put their staffs in the best possible position to succeed, to protect staff from having to make allocation calls, and to interpret or clarify direction from the Board of Fisheries where appropriate.

                          Your Kenai sockeye vs. Kenai kings example illustrates the challenges here. This year a decision had to made on whether it was more important to try to meet the low end of the king goal than to avoid exceeding the top end of the sockeye inriver and escapement goals. It sounds like your recommendation would have been to prioritize commercial harvest of the "excess" sockeye even though doing so would have driven king escapements to even lower levels below goals than they are currently at and perhaps also harvesting significant numbers of northern bound coho which sound like they may also be falling short of goals. This requires a value judgement on the relative importance of tradeoffs in current and future yields of sockeye vs. kings vs. coho and the fishery implications of those tradeoffs. As a private citizen it is your prerogative to argue for one value or another based on your value judgements. As an area manager, this would have been absolutely inappropriate.
                          You are also arguing that the department must not allocate fish or try to balance competing goals. But that is exactly what you are saying area management staffs should do. I would argue that there is no way to avoid trying to balance competing goals, that these decisions inevitably have allocation implications and that this responsibility is that of commissioner rather than the area management staff, In fact, the umbrella Upper Cook Inlet Management Plan adopted by the Board specifically reserves the commissioner's management authority in cases where management plans and escapement goals collide. It doesn't say anything about the area management's authority in this circumstance.

                          Comment


                          • #28
                            Originally posted by Cohoangler View Post
                            The loss of Chinook salmon stocks on the Kenai River is both sad and tragic. However, the specific cause for the decline is not as clear as we might think. I agree that recreational angling on the Kenai is a likely contributor. And it’s also very visible. But Chinook salmon stocks have collapsed in other rivers in Alaska that have almost no habitat or harvest issues.

                            Perhaps the most obvious example is the Karluk and Ayakulik Rivers on Kodiak Island. Both rivers originate on National Wildlife Refuge lands, have pristine habitat conditions, and very light harvest from recreational angling and subsistence fishing. But the Chinook stocks have collapsed completely. The reasons are not obvious. Here’s an article from a couple years ago:

                            https://www.adn.com/fishing/article/...rs/2015/04/08/

                            As I have said on this forum in the past, if the Chinook salmon stocks on the Kenai and elsewhere in Alaska collapsed as a result of ocean harvest (e.g., GoA), the results would be identical to what we’re seeing now.

                            That is, low numbers of spawning adults and a reduction in size-at-maturity. The reduction in size-at-maturity is particularly troubling since recreational angling (and commercial fishing in UCI) won’t directly reduce size-at-maturity of the adults the way ocean harvest would.

                            Recall that ocean harvest targets these fish while they are in the ‘active feeding’ stage of their life history. Harvesting in the ocean therefore cuts short any further growth the adults might attain. Not so for freshwater recreational angling (again, ditto for commercial fishing in UCI). Recreational angling targets the adults after they have achieved their terminal body size.

                            Since adult Chinook returning to UCI and in the Kenai River have already reached their terminal body size, they ain’t gettin’ any bigger. So recreational angling cannot directly reduce size-at-maturity. But it can indirectly reduce size-at- maturity by harvesting the largest individuals hereby leaving the smaller adults to spawn. By increasing the number of smaller adults on the spawning grounds, it increases the genetic probability of smaller size-at-maturity in the future.

                            But that answer is considerably more complicated than high ocean harvest. I’m not saying ocean harvest is the sole cause for the decline, but in my view, the circumstantial evidence is persuasive for the Kenai, the Karluk, the Ayakulik, and perhaps other rivers in the Great Land.
                            Years of people taking the big Kings off the spawning beds will certainly effect the size of next generations. When you have smaller, younger fish spawning simple genetics will determine that future fish returning will be smaller and younger. What do people keep on the Kenai when only 2 Kings are allowed? They release the little young guys and keep the Hawgs. It doesn't take a genius to figure out how that's going to play out. King fishing on the Kenai needs to be shut down for a number of years. Should have been done already. Sadly it will only happen when it's already way too late.
                            Hunt Ethically. Respect the Environment.

                            Comment


                            • #29
                              Originally posted by SmokeRoss View Post
                              Years of people taking the big Kings off the spawning beds will certainly effect the size of next generations. When you have smaller, younger fish spawning simple genetics will determine that future fish returning will be smaller and younger. What do people keep on the Kenai when only 2 Kings are allowed? They release the little young guys and keep the Hawgs. It doesn't take a genius to figure out how that's going to play out. King fishing on the Kenai needs to be shut down for a number of years. Should have been done already. Sadly it will only happen when it's already way too late.
                              I agree. That may have occurred on the Kenai, given the well documented recreational fishing effort expended on that river for decades. But, as I stated, other rivers in Alaska are demonstrating the same effects, but don’t have the same history of recreational exploitation (e.g., Karluk Rv). I’m saying that ocean harvest would have the same result (low abundance and size-at-maturity), even on rivers where recreational harvest is almost zero.

                              So even though high levels of recreational harvest can explain what has been happening on the Kenai, alternate hypothesis can explain the results just as well.

                              Also, nice to see BFish contribute once again. Well said, although I'm waiting for the inevitable strong response from predictable sources......

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                Originally posted by Bfish View Post
                                I would say that this post demonstrates exactly why it is essential for the commissioner to weigh in on difficult management decisions in Cook Inlet. As we all well know, this is a very complex fishery harvesting mixed stocks and species that support a variety of commercial, personal use, sport and subsistence fisheries. Fish runs are dynamic, varying from year to year and day to day in unpredictable patterns of abundance and timing which requires intensive inseason management in an attempt to meet established escapement goals to sustain future production, and to allocate harvest and opportunities among the users. Over the years, some fairly complicated management plans have been developed by the Board of Fisheries to provide guidance particularly with respect to allocation. However, because of the dynamic and unpredictable nature of salmon it is often not possible to meet every goal or plan provision in every year.

                                Thus in years like this one, decisions have to be made on which goals will be met and which ones will not. Same for which plan provisions will be followed and which will not. Any such decision to favor one goal over another or one plan over another inevitably has significant allocation implications for fisheries throughout the inlet. Allocation decisions are the responsibility of the board of fisheries. They are not within the purview of the area management staff. Area management staff are also not always in a very good position to weigh the implications and tradeoffs to other fisheries outside their immediate responsibility. Asking or expecting the area management staff to make these calls places them in a very unfair position - picking winners and losers among the fisheries severely damages their credibility. (You yourself have been tarred with that brush.) These kinds of difficult decisions are why the commissioner (with input from directors, regional and area staffs) get paid the big bucks. It is their responsibility to weigh the information and recommendations of their staffs, to put their staffs in the best possible position to succeed, to protect staff from having to make allocation calls, and to interpret or clarify direction from the Board of Fisheries where appropriate.

                                Your Kenai sockeye vs. Kenai kings example illustrates the challenges here. This year a decision had to made on whether it was more important to try to meet the low end of the king goal than to avoid exceeding the top end of the sockeye inriver and escapement goals. It sounds like your recommendation would have been to prioritize commercial harvest of the "excess" sockeye even though doing so would have driven king escapements to even lower levels below goals than they are currently at and perhaps also harvesting significant numbers of northern bound coho which sound like they may also be falling short of goals. This requires a value judgement on the relative importance of tradeoffs in current and future yields of sockeye vs. kings vs. coho and the fishery implications of those tradeoffs. As a private citizen it is your prerogative to argue for one value or another based on your value judgements. As an area manager, this would have been absolutely inappropriate.
                                You are also arguing that the department must not allocate fish or try to balance competing goals. But that is exactly what you are saying area management staffs should do. I would argue that there is no way to avoid trying to balance competing goals, that these decisions inevitably have allocation implications and that this responsibility is that of commissioner rather than the area management staff, In fact, the umbrella Upper Cook Inlet Management Plan adopted by the Board specifically reserves the commissioner's management authority in cases where management plans and escapement goals collide. It doesn't say anything about the area management's authority in this circumstance.
                                Bfish, I think you and others have not fully read the management plans and the history behind them. That was one of my concerns with the Commissioner taking charge this year. The Area staff is composed of more than just the Commercial Fishery staff and includes the other Divisions. They derive their authority to manage from the delegation of management authority from the Commissioner. No one is saying the Commissioner cannot make a decision but I question when a Commissioner should make a decision. This is the first year in the history of UCI where the Commissioner interjected himself in every decision. The problem is that he lacks the experience of managing UCI fisheries and has made what I call rookie mistakes and therefore gave him a D for management and F for public trust.

                                1. The ADFG staff is to manage for escapement goals with emergency order authority. Indirect allocation impacts may take place but the idea is to manage to goals. In this year with a lower chinook return and slightly below average sockeye return the guiding principle is to try and get as close as one can to the goal range for both goals. That does take a discussion of how to do that but no one is saying one user group deserves the fish more than the other. The final result is a measure of success. This is also where the Board of Fish has provided guidance. The King Salmon plan was written with the understanding that this type of year will take place and how to manage it. They specifically made paired restrictions and one component of that plan was to have abundance based management. I prefer the term adaptive management. The regular periods for the commercial fishery were closed and weekly fishing hours reduced. The concept was to fish the set nets when fish were abundant on the beach so the sockeye to chinook ratio would be high. At the time the sockeye first hit the beach in good numbers the chinook run was still being projected to be in the goal range. Instead of fishing on this push of fish the Commissioner refused to allow adaptive management fishing. Instead he waited and lost this opportunity. The chinook harvest would have been minimal for over a hundred thousand sockeye and the escapement goal would be closer to SEG. The Commissioner made the same mistake on the second push of fish to the river. Thus in my view two to three hundred thousand sockeye were not harvested and pushed the escapement farther from the SEG - it still would have been over the upper end. The final chinook number would be 100 to 200 fish lower. Given today's data the 11,000 plus chinook spawners would have been 10,800. So why did this happen? I believe a number of things came together for this to take place. First the Director, Regional Supervisor, and Area Management Biologist are all new and are novices in UCI. They also do not know the full history of the Board of Fish. Ironically I was talking with a KRSA consultant at the time and he agreed that decisions on fishing should be based on when fish abundance on the beach was high. He knew the history of the paired plan and realized that the Board of Fish knew some chinook would be harvested for a good sockeye harvest. Basically the Commissioner made his own allocation plan for which I am critical of. Other examples of missed opportunities that the Board of Fish discussed and the plans reflect include the Kasilof River terminal area and or the 600 foot beach fishery. The Terminal Area was designed to target Kasilof sockeye when Kenai sockeye or chinook were low. The terminal area was never used and the 600 foot when used accomplished what was intended. In one fishing period they took 4 chinook salmon. So why was this fishery not used more when the Board created it for this very situation? Again I believe the Commissioner believes in his preseason comments about putting more fish in the river - he has demonstrated no concern for the sockeye goals. Instead he has rejected the Board management plans that were designed for this situation. I am not saying that the commercial fishery should have a priority over the chinook fishery. I am saying that the sockeye goals could have been closer to the SEG and the chinook goal would be only 100-200 fish lower. That is what area management biologist have done in UCI for decades. After each season the Board reviews the decisions along with the public and adjusts plans if necessary. However, the Board has never discussed how far over the sockeye goal one should go vs how far under the goal for chinook. However they have been clear in the plans that there are tools to reduce the impact on both goals if the Department used them correctly. This Commissioner did not do that. Bfish the issue is not that the Commissioner has no authority to manage for goals he certainly does. The issue is that a Commissioner usually does not have the history and accountability that the staff has and the Area concept is that the staff knows the history, knows the fish runs, and is accountable to the public. The Commissioner also does not have the authority to change the intent or language of the allocation plans. This Commissioner did just that.

                                Time and again during the season the Commissioner told local staff he wanted to put more fish in the river. A clear allocation statement. He did so with his decision making when he refused staff recommendation to fish on Saturdays in July. Again the plans had a 36 hour window that provided in concept fish to the personal use fishery. The staff was to fish again if fishing was needed to control sockeye escapements on Saturdays following the window. Instead that tool was removed for allocation reasons , not management to escapement goals. The chinook projections were well above the goals at the time of these decisions.

                                I could go on with more and more examples. The drift fleet restrictions in the plan were the result of Board discussions and this Commissioner changed those plans for an allocation agenda. At the time of the decisions the coho return looked better than it turned out. So again it was not based on reaching goals but to provide fish for a user group by not following the allocation plans..

                                If you want a Commissioner that allocates fish based on his or her personal feelings then we do not need a Board of Fish. The Commissioner can just do it. I do not think that is what the public wants.

                                I was to stress that historically staff has fished to meet goals. Yes there were indirect allocation impacts but in my history only a few times has a Commissioner interjected for allocation reasons.

                                Unfortunately, I see no good forum to discuss the trade offs. The present Board of Fish is stacked with user groups and their agenda. An independent board may be necessary to deal with this topic.

                                Comment

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