Credit: craigmedred.news

 

Kodiak salmon fishermen are reeling after a Board of Fisheries decision that limits fishing in two traditional regions. The new rules are aimed at letting more salmon get to Chignik and Cook Inlet fisheries.

After hearing  testimony by 150 local residents and spending an extra day for deliberations, the board put a mix of new time and catch limits on fisheries at Cape Igvak and the Katmai Alinchak section on the west side of Kodiak Island.

“We’re just stunned. I don’t know if we can really assess all the implications of what took place here today. What the board determined today was beyond the scope of even worst case scenario.”

Duncan Fields is a lifelong salmon fishermen and head of the Kodiak Salmon Work Group.

The new rules affect the times fishing will be allowed and for how much. The Cape Igvak changes are aimed at letting more sockeyes get to Chignik further down stream, which has had severe fish failures in recent years.

The new plan cuts Kodiak fishermen’s take of Chignik bound sockeye by half, to 7.5% and shortens Kodiak fishing time by 20 days. It also doubles the number of sockeyes Chignik fishermen can take to 600,000 fish before Kodiak harvesters can wet their nets at the Cape

 “They pretty much gutted all the opportunity to fish at Cape Igvak,” said Nick Szabo, a former board of fisheries member from Kodiak. “It has to be an exceptionally strong run for Kodiak to even fish there,” he told the Kodiak Daily Mirror.

The Cape Igvak management plan has been in place for decades and it was time for a change, board member Israel Payton told the packed crowd.

“This plan has been stagnant for roughly 40 years while the world around us has changed. I think it’s appropriate to update these plans once in a while,” Payton said, adding that Kodiak seiners have had three of their highest harvests over the past decade.

In another hit, the Fish Board extended a management plan for over 40 miles on the Alaska Peninsula to supposedly save sockeyes bound for the Susitna River hundreds of miles upstream in Cook Inlet.

 

 

 

“In addition to what we’ve lost in Cape Igvak, now we have this huge loss in the middle Mainland Section. In the Katmai and Alinchak Section, and so the cumulative value of that loss which is primarily pinks and chums, as well as what they’ve lost at Cape Igvak, I think is still within that 2.5 to $3 million range. And that’s every year. That’s like a cash register – a $3 million loss in perpetuity.”

Fields said many of the salmon proposals were based on genetic studies that identified the origins of the mixed stocks, although none was done in the Katmai Alinchak area.

“In addition to that, we have hundreds of pages of documentation relative to the genetic study, to say that you really can’t determine whether or not those fish over there are Susitna bound fish or not. It’s a very low percentage at best in the area they closed at the Katmai Alinchak Section and they had no genetic assessment in that area at all.

 “And yet they closed that based on this assumption that the fish that are caught there are bound for Cook Inlet. And then the second assumption, that some percentage of those that are bound for Cook Inlet are going to go to the Susitna drainage, and that percentage is significant enough to regulate a fishery 300 or 400 miles away.”

Fields said the Fish Board turned a deaf ear to Kodiak Islander’s concerns.

Prior to the decision, state House Representative Louise Stutes gave board members a letter saying she and her constituents believed the Kodiak salmon outcome was pre-determined before the meeting.

The new regulations, which will affect several hundred Kodiak boats and setnetters, will be in effect this summer.

Thanks to the audio assist from KMXT/Kodiak.

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