Salmon fishing at Upper Cook Inlet                      Credit:  ADF&G

 

Results of a long term study on Alaska hatcheries and a push by sport fishermen for a personal use priority at Cook Inlet are among the 16 proposals to be taken up by the state Board of Fisheries next week in Anchorage.

On March 8 the board will hear updates from its Hatchery Committee on a long term study that is investigating interactions between hatchery and wild pink salmon at Prince William Sound and the same for chums in Southeast Alaska.

Early results show that pinks in the Sound are genetically similar and stray rates vary from stream to stream depending on hatchery proximity, migration patterns and other factors. Scientists are now trying to quantify the impacts of straying on wild stocks.

Statewide fish issues will be addressed from March 9-12 – among them, a proposal by the Kenai River Sportfishing Association.

Dubbed “Help Move Alaskans Up the Food Chain,” it would “require the BOF to consider Alaskans’ food needs and use of fisheries when setting fishery allocations.” It claims “the current allocations “prioritize the export of Alaska’s fish for consumption by outsiders over the need of Alaskans.”

The proposal asks the Fish Board to “modify criteria for the allocation of fishery resources among users and to re-prioritize “the importance of each fishery for providing residents the opportunity to harvest fish for personal and family consumption” as the first of six criteria.

                       March 28-30 in Kodiak

Before being removed from its website, KRSA muddied the waters by claiming that, among other things, under current allocations 98 percent, or six billion pounds, of Alaska’s fish are exported for use by non-Alaskans.

But that’s total US exports; Alaska exports three billion pounds of all species annually.

All of the Fish Board meetings are open to the public and available via live audio  –

Thanks to the assist from KBBI in Homer.

 

Below are the criteria KRSA lists for its priority request along with Fact Checks provided by SeafoodNews.com

The seven criteria listed in the current regulation for the allocation of fishery resources state the criteria “may include factors such as:

1) The history of each personal use, sport, guided sport, and commercial fishery;
2) The number of residents and nonresidents who have participated in each fishery in the past and the number of residents and nonresidents who can reasonably be expected to participate in the future;
3) The importance of each fishery for providing residents the opportunity to obtain fish for personal and family consumption;
4) The availability of alternative fisheries resources;
5) The importance of each fishery to the economy of the state; Rev. Jan. 2018
6) The importance of each fishery to the economy of the region and local area in which the fishery is located;
7) The importance of each fishery in providing recreational opportunities for residents and nonresidents.”

KRSA proposes to make these seven inclusive and prioritized, with #3 replacing the un-prioritized #1 as most important.

Before being removed, KRSA’s website message asked for support by stating “Using the BOF [Board of Fisheries] current allocation criteria, 98 percent of Alaska’s fish are exported for use by non-Alaskans – just 1 percent is harvested for subsistence in rural areas of the state and the remaining 1 percent is split between the resident-only personal use and sport fisheries for residents and non-residents. Annually, upwards of 6 billion pounds of seafood is exported to feed people elsewhere in the world.

Fact check: The U.S., not Alaska, exports 3.1 billion pounds of edible fishery products, not 6 billion pounds. The 3.1 billion figure is from 2017, an increase of 10% over 2016, according to recent NOAA Fisheries Annual Statistics Report.

As for the “98 percent of Alaska’s fish are exported for use by non-Alaskans,” ADF&G’s own data show that subsistence use varies depending on species and location, but has been historically stable and above 4 percent; non-charter recreational harvests are between 5 and 10 percent, depending on location and species. That doesn’t include charter operators, who share king salmon on an 80/20 split in Southeast, and halibut on a stairstepped abundance-based catch sharing plan where the charter sector takes 14-19%.

KRSA’s message continues: “Yet upwards of 15 percent of households in non-subsistence use areas of Alaska like the Kenai Peninsula suffer from hunger and food insecurity. The current allocation method prioritizes fish for people elsewhere in the world over Alaskan households.”

Fact check: The current allocation method prioritizes commercial landings, which are sold to processors and end up in grocery stores in Southcentral Alaska and elsewhere. Commercial bycatch of salmon and halibut show up in Food Banks around Southcentral, by the thousands of pounds each year.

Finally, KRSA uses a phrase seen frequently by the new governor’s cabinet: “Will you help make putting food on the tables of Alaskans one of the factors considered by the BOF when setting fishery allocations?”

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