Board of Fisheries Observations Part 4

Part 4

UCIDA brought proposals to the Board to restore full-inlet fishing time and eliminate the 1% rule.

The Board decided to restore only one full inlet opening between July 16 and July 31. They declined to eliminate the 1% Rule in August for the drift fleet.

Our proposals were based on new science that shows that it is not possible to selectively harvest particular stocks. The net result of time and area restrictions has been under-harvest of Kenai and Kasilof sockeye (producing chronic overescapements) and under-harvest of other surplus coho, chum and pink salmon. This has cost the industry and the local and state economies millions of dollars.

Opposition to our proposals, as usual, was primarily based on Mat-Su sockeye and coho exploitation rates. ADF&G provided bad exploitation data that had to be corrected after the Board made their decisions on the proposals. ADF&G ultimately used the exploitation rates of Little Susitna River and Jim Creek to convince the Board not to restore more full-inlet fishing time or eliminate the 1% Rule.

For years UCIDA has documented and argued the inappropriate use of the Little Susitna River and Jim Creek as index streams for coho exploitation. Intense sport fish pressure, discontinued coho stocking programs and serious urbanization effects on their productivity should have ruled them out long ago. We have also recommended that the state should restore coho stocking programs in those systems (a relatively inexpensive endeavor).

The Mat-Su anti-commercial fishing people have refused to allow stocking of those systems. We can only interpret that as their intent to use those streams as tools for continuing to chip away at all commercial fishing effort. ADF&G has documented that there are more than a million surplus, unharvested coho in the Northern District. But no one can harvest them because coho sport fishing in Jim Creek has to be restricted. Really?!

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