Board declines request to cap Kodiak sockeye harvest

The Board of Fisheries won’t take up an out-of-cycle request to cap Kodiak sockeye salmon harvests during certain periods of the season, though it won’t be the last time the issue comes up.

The board declined to accept an agenda change request that proposed a new management plan for the commercial sockeye salmon fishery in the Kodiak Management Area setting weekly and seasonal limits on sockeye harvest. The request, submitted by the United Cook Inlet Drift Association, raises concerns brought to light in a recent Alaska Department of Fish and Game genetic study showing that Kodiak commercial fishermen catch hundreds of thousands of Cook Inlet-bound sockeye salmon during the summer.

An agenda change request, if accepted, would have added the proposal to the docket for an upcoming meeting within the next few months, as opposed to waiting until the next Kodiak cycle meeting in 2019–2020. However, the board members rejected it, with some saying they agreed it was a conservation concern but that an agenda change request was not the right venue to address it.

The United Cook Inlet Drift Association wrote in its request that the proposal was based largely on allocation concerns after the revelations of the Kodiak sockeye harvest sampling study.

“Now … with the aid of genetics, we know much more about the timing, locations, extent and magnitude of the harvests of the Cook Inlet origin salmon stocks,” the request states. “This ACR is a first opportunity to look at the harvests of Cook Inlet stocks in the Kodiak Management Area.”

The study, originally presented at the Board of Fisheries meeting in Kodiak in January and again at the Upper Cook Inlet meeting in February, analyzed genetic information from sockeye harvested in select areas of Kodiak during the commercial fishing season. Over three years, the researchers put together a picture of which sockeye stocks are harvested in the Kodiak fishery, ultimately finding that most of them were Kodiak-bound but a portion were Cook Inlet fish. In one year of the study, Cook Inlet stocks contributed 37 percent of the total harvest in the sampling areas, with the other two years less than that.

The Board of Fisheries requested that the researchers further analyze the data to break out stream-specific stocks within Cook Inlet for the work session. Fish and Game geneticist Kyle Shedd presented those results at the meeting Thursday, again cautioning that the results shouldn’t be applied too broadly because the researchers didn’t sample all the areas and it was only a three-year study.

According to the stream system breakout, the Kenai River contributed the most fish to the Kodiak sockeye harvest, at more than 5 percent in 22 of the 47 time periods analyzed. Kasilof River and Susitna River sockeye were less common, correlating with the size of the runs on the three rivers.

Read the rest of the article here.


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

News from Facebook