From Anchorage Daily News/Michelle Theriault Boots
November 6, 2013
A new organization backed by a powerful Kenai River sportfishing advocate is trying to ban setnetting from all urban areas in Alaska, including Cook Inlet.
The group, Alaska Fisheries Conservation Alliance, counts Bob Penney, a politically-connected Anchorage real estate developer who has long been vocal about sportfishing issues, as a director. It says that prized Kenai River king salmon are threatened by overfishing and bycatch and blames commercial setnets.
“There is no debating that king salmon stocks in Cook Inlet are at historic lows,” the group wrote in a press release. “Setnets are indiscriminate killing machines and it is time they are banned in urban areas in Alaska.”
The group filed paperwork Wednesday to begin the ballot initiative process.
The initiative moves to ban commercial setnetting in Anchorage, the Kenai River, Cook Inlet, Valdez, Fairbanks, the Mat-Su Valley, Juneau and Ketchikan.
Joe Connors, a Sterling lodge owner acting as a spokesman for the group, said there’s currently no setnetting in any of the urban areas targeted other than Cook Inlet but that the idea would be to keep the practice from moving in.
The 90 percent of the state designated as subsistence areas would not be included in the ballot initiative, according to Connors.
Dipnetters, drift boats and anglers wouldn’t be targeted by the ballot initiative.
This is a developing story. Check back for details.
Reach Michelle Theriault Boots at email@example.com or 257-4344.