Board of Fisheries Observations Part 5

We’ve been very disappointed with the outcome at this meeting for all of the reasons mentioned in the previous reports. On the other hand, this is the first Board meeting in a long, long time where we gained anything at all.

The atmosphere of the meeting has been much improved. Commercial fishers and proposals from commercial fishers or groups have been treated with the same respect as other user groups, rather than the disrespect shown to us at previous Board meetings. Chairman John Jensen has set a new example on that matter. We hear that KRSA is outraged that the Board is treating people decently and fairly.

KRSA has a bunch of paid consultants here including Kevin Delaney, Mac Minard and Ray Beamesderfer. These guys are also on the Mat-Su Borough’s payroll for this.

UCIDA doesn’t have any paid consultants. Audrey is our only paid staffperson here, on her normal salary. UCIDA folks who have attended, on their own time, include Board members Dave Martin, Erik Huebsch, Dan Anderson, John McCombs, Ian Pitzman, Dyer VanDevere, Steve Tvenstrup and Dino Sutherland,  Members Steve Vanek, Teague Vanek, Catherine Cassidy, Wes Humbyrd, Brent Keene, Bob Merchant, Bob Wolfe, Mark Mahan, Judd Walker ,David Hillstrand, Bruce Gabrys, Ray Bellamy, JR., Coby Wilson, Jeff Widman, Brent Western, Eric Nyce and  John Gucer.( If anyone was left off the list, please accept our apologies.)

Representatives from Pacific Star, Icicle, Snug Harbor and Inlet Fish have also been in attendance.  Our thanks go to them.

 


43961 K-Beach Road, Suite E
Soldotna, Alaska
(907) 260-9436

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Good Afternoon,

Please find the attached UCI commercial fishing harvest through August 15.

Thanks,

Alyssa Frothingham
UCI Assistant Area Management Biologist
43961 Kalifornsky Beach Road, Suite B
Soldotna, AK 99669-8276
Phone: 907-260-2916
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Coast Guard Medevacs 60-Year-Old Vessel Master Near Knowles Head, Alaska

August 16, 2019

A 60-year-old man was medevaced from a 52-foot fishing vessel, two miles south of Knowles Head, Alaska on Thursday afternoon by the Coast Guard.

An Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew diverted from a nearby training mission hoisted the man from the Lady Kay vessel and transported him to emergency services in Cordova at 12:50 p.m. Reports from the hospital say that the man was in stable condition at the time of transfer.

Watchstanders at the Sector Anchorage command center received a notification at 11:33 a.m. of an injured vessel master. A medevac was recommended for the injured man after a consultation with a Coast Guard duty flight surgeon.

Ryan Doyle
Urner Barry
1-732-240-5330
rdoyle@urnerbarry.com
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Seattle Tourists Can Still See Wild Salmon at the Ballard Locks, On Video

Copyright © 2019 The Seattle Times: Web Edition
By Danny Westneat
August 16, 2019

"Mommy, I see a fish!"

I was out at the Ballard Locks on a recent morning, and — contrary to the excited little girl — there wasn't a fish in sight.

Not a real one anyway. The girl, part of a healthy stream of tourists coursing past the locks' famed underwater salmon-viewing windows, had instead spied the only fish in evidence that morning — one displayed on the facility's new 15-foot flat-screen video wall.

The screens, installed in June, were placed just above the windows where more than a million visitors a year come to peer into the true beating heart of Seattle — the pulsing migration of hundreds of thousands of salmon.

The video display was put there because tour guides no longer have that much of the real thing to point to.

This summer only 17,064 sockeye were tallied passing through the Locks over two months of counting, the lowest figure ever recorded (the counting started in 1972).

It's not just lower by a little. The annual average as recently as the decade of the 2000s was 237,000 sockeye through the Locks.

Back in 2006, which is starting to feel like a different epoch, 36,319 sockeye bombarded the fish ladder in a single day.

"So much wildness surging through the city has the feel of a miracle to it," I wrote about that 2006 run.

Our sockeye run was at one time the biggest in the lower 48 states, and one of the larger urban fish runs in the world. For my money it was Seattle's greatest tourist attraction — a must-see for out-of-towners, because it was the main thing that makes us different from anywhere else.

Today the video is pretty good.

"I don't want to pour cold water on everyone who is out there working to save the sockeye, but it's going downhill so fast it feels like we might be nearing the end," said Frank Urabeck, a longtime sport-fishing advocate who was dubbed "Mr. Sockeye" because of his ardor for the Lake Washington run.

"Last year the news was concerning, but this year the news is devastating," the Cedar River Council, an advisory group formed for that river basin, recently wrote to the governor, begging for intervention.

So far neither a new $8 million hatchery nor hundreds of millions of dollars in habitat improvements on the spawning grounds, the Cedar River, have been able to lift it back up.

Pollution, a "blob" of warm ocean water, other fish feasting on salmon fry in the lake, habitat destruction, the general warming of Lake Washington water — all share blame for the demise, biologists have suggested. There hasn't been a sports-fishing season for sockeye in 13 years.

Sockeye were first planted in the river in the 1930s, so the run is not eligible for federal protections. Each year Seattle also sees small runs of chinook and coho salmon swim through the Locks. Many of those are hatchery fish, while the wild run of chinook has been on the Endangered Species list since 1999.

Urabeck notes that the return of 17,000 sockeye this year is a lot worse than it sounds. Last year, nearly twice that number, 32,100, were counted at the Locks. But mysteriously only about a quarter made it to the river to spawn. That means that after traveling hundreds if not thousands of ocean miles, three-quarters of the fish that went through the Locks somehow died in the Ship Canal or Lake Washington, right on the doorstep of their reproductive goal.

"This year we could be left with just a few thousand spawners in the river," Urabeck said. "So we're down to a token. You get to populations that low and it's hard to sustain itself."

If there was something you all could do, a number to call or a donation to make, I'd give it to you. But Seattle's totemic fish runs have already received sustained attention and hundreds of millions in aid. If there's a way to save them now, there's no agreement what that might be.

What's ebbing away is more than a planted fish run. As recently as the 2000s, up to 200,000 sockeye spawned here naturally, meaning they swam through the teeth of the city to dig nests in the gravel of a local river. I saw it, out east of Renton, the reddening fish surging upstream bank to bank like blood cells in an artery. I thought then: How far gone could we be, if wild salmon could still thrive here?

Today the video displays, just by their presence, say the opposite. Seattle's on the verge of being a museum of its former self.

Photo Credit: Urner Barry
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