Board of Fish News

Board of Fish adds 1 district-wide opener for drifters

A commercial drift gillnetting boat leaves the mouth of the Kasilof River at about 1 a.m. July 17, 2014 during an overnight fishing period in Kasilof, Alaska. (Clarion file photo)

Upper Cook Inlet’s drift gillnet fleet will get another 12 hours of fishing time in July, but no one is 100 percent happy about it.

For one, the drifters feel like it wasn’t enough. The Board of Fisheries approved an amended proposal at its Thursday meeting that states the commercial fishing managers may open up one fishing period between July 16 and July 31 in the Central District, where before they were restricted to only part of the district. Since they have been restricted to fishing in the corridors, which parallel the shore and keep the fishermen from being able to traverse the entire inlet, they say they haven’t been able to efficiently harvest sockeye salmon, leading to overescapement into the Kenai and Kasilof rivers.

“It’s token,” said Erik Huebsch, vice president of the United Cook Inlet Drift Association.

Many sportfishermen feel like the board is chipping away at the commercial fishing restrictions too much, reallocating Cook Inlet’s highly contested salmon populations to the commercial fishing fleet. Chief among the complaints is concern for the Matanuska-Susitna Valley’s coho salmon, which have been on the decline for at least the past decade. Sportfishermen in the valley say the drifters are blocking too many salmon from moving up into the northern streams, corking off the salmon populations and furthering the decline.

In the back of the room Thursday, sportfishermen shook their heads as the measure passed. Mike Crawford, chair of the Kenai/Soldotna Fish and Game Advisory Committee, said the board’s decisions so far this meeting have not been good for sportfishermen.

The blame game washed back and forth on Wednesday, with Mat-Su Valley fishermen and officials blaming the sockeye and coho stock declines on the drift fishermen and the drift fishermen blaming the stock declines on conditions in the valley. The discussion was notably civil compared to previous years, but the disagreements were sharp.

It’s a long-standing conflict. In 2008, when Susitna sockeye salmon were designated a stock of concern, it triggered restrictions on the drift fleet intended to prevent harvest of northern-bound sockeye and coho salmon as they passed through the Cook Inlet. Although drift fishermen have never denied that they harvest northern-bound sockeye and coho, they say the decline is because of poor production due to shallow lakes in the valley, widespread predation by invasive northern pike and pathogens in the water that affect salmon.

Read the rest of the article here.

ADFG Issues 2017 Sockeye Salmon Forecast

ADFG predicts lowest sockeye salmon harvest in 15 years

Read the rest of the article here.

ASMI releases new economic study

Alaska Seafood Industry Pumps $14.6 billion a Year into US Economy

SEAFOODNEWS.COM By Peggy Parker – January 20, 2016

A new study commissioned by the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute found that economic impacts of the commercial fishing industry in Alaska to the rest of the nation reached $14.6 billion in recent years.

Those impacts include $6.2 billion in direct output associated with fishing, processing, distribution, and retail. There were $8.4 billion in multiplier effects generated as industry income circulates throughout the U.S. economy.

Alaska’s seafood industry adds $5.9 billion annually to the state’s economy, including employment of 60,000 workers and labor income of $1.6 billion, based on 2013 and 2014 averages.

“The Economic Value of Alaska’s Seafood Industry”, released yesterday, updates an earlier McDowell Group study from 2013, which looked at the industry’s performance in 2011.

That year, commercial fishermen landed over 5.5 billion pounds worth an ex-vessel value of $2.16 billion, making it the most valuable single-season harvest on record. Direct economic output to the U.S. (not including multiplier effects) was $6.4 billion, compared to $6.2 billion today.

On average, seafood harvests in Alaska have increased to 5.7 billion pounds annually, worth $1.94 billion.

The report, which looks at performance over 2013-14, points out that Alaska’s seafood industry is unique because it “more than other industries, provides employment and income opportunities for urban and rural residents alike.”

The businesses and individuals in Alaska’s seafood industry contribute roughly $138.6 million in taxes, fees, and self-assessments, which help fund state, local, and federal government.

The report considers only the commercial seafood industry and does not address economic impacts stemming from recreational, charter, or subsistence uses of Alaska’s seafood resources.

Seafood accounts for about 20 percent of Alaska’s basic private sector economy, with oil and gas providing just over 50 percent. Including multiplier effects, the seafood industry accounts for $2.1 billion in total labor income and $5.9 billion in total economic activity in Alaska.


Read the full report here.

KTVA News in Anchorage continues coverage of so-called Kenai Fish Wars

KTVA’s Rhonda McBride on “Frontiers”:

The Alaska Supreme Court recently threw out a setnet ban initiative. So, what’s next for the long running fish fight in Kenai? In this web extra, Andrew Jensen who is editor of the Alaska Journal of Commerce, will analyze the decision and talk about the implications for fisheries across Alaska.

Watch the interview here.

Alaska Journal of Commerce EDITORIAL: Time for Penney to drop vendetta against setnetters

Bob Penney is now 0 for 2 at the Alaska Supreme Court in his efforts to reallocate Cook Inlet salmon stocks at the ballot box, but he’s not giving up the fight against commercial fishermen.

It’s past time that he did after some three decades of dividing the community with his nonstop efforts to drive his neighbors out of business and turn the Kenai River into his personal playpen.

After the court emphatically rejected his ballot initiative that would ban setnetting from Cook Inlet beaches on Dec. 31, Penney released a statement that, “Maybe it’s time the federal government looked into this issue.”

Later, Clark Penney, the executive director of the Alaska Fisheries Conservation Alliance started by his grandfather to push the initiative back in November 2013, said the group is looking into pursuing an Endangered Species Act listing for Kenai River king salmon.

Anyone can petition for such a listing, but AFCA will have no better luck with the ESA than it had at the Alaska Supreme Court.

Abundance of the late run of Kenai River kings is no doubt at a low point, but the stock has never failed to meet its escapement goal and in fact returned in strong enough numbers to allow all user groups more liberal harvest opportunity in 2015.

The early run of Kenai River kings, on the other hand, has failed repeatedly in recent years to meet minimum escapement goals and was closed to all sportfishing in the past two years.

Notice it hasn’t been closed to commercial fishing. That’s because commercial fishermen haven’t been in the water during the early run for decades as the stock abundance cratered under heavy pressure from the guided angler industry.

That’s something Penney and his like-minded friends don’t ever talk about because they can’t blame it on commercial fishing.

Oh, but they can spin a fish tale, though, and never was Penney’s win-at-all-costs mentality more evident than last legislative session when his advocacy outfit led a misleading smear campaign against a well-respected member of the Kenai Peninsula community who’d been nominated to the Board of Fisheries.

The successful effort by the Kenai River Sportfishing Association to defeat Soldotna habitat advocate Robert Ruffner by a single vote based on a made-up criteria about not living in Anchorage and a ridiculous accusation that he was some kind of Manchurian candidate of the commercial fishing industry was the last straw for many in the community who saw his candidacy as an opportunity to break up what had become a polarized board dominated by factions instead of facts.

Read the rest of the editorial here.

Analysis of State Revenue from Fisheries; Upper Cook Inlet, 2014

In December UCIDA published this report on options for increasing revenue returns on UCI salmon through various tax and permit changes and better utilizing surplus salmon stocks. It is a retrospective analysis based on data from the 2014 salmon season.

1. Introduction
The reality of the economic circumstances facing Alaska requires more than a cursory review of direct revenues generated by one of Alaska’s greatest natural and renewable resources – Alaskan seafood. The Alaska commercial seafood industry is the State’s second largest industry, the largest employer and a major generator of State tax revenue. Alaska’s fishery resources have the potential to provide an even greater benefit to the State treasury. This analysis uses the 2014 Upper Cook Inlet (UCI) salmon fishery to demonstrate additional revenue options and why a comprehensive review of State fishery economics is needed. Results and conclusions from this review provide examples of the types of returns we could expect from other fisheries State-wide.

The greatest value to the State from its’ fishery resources will not be realized until the Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADF&G) and the Board of Fisheries (BOF) incorporate a business model approach to every management policy and plan. Fisheries management needs to be focused on fully utilizing these renewable resources with the understanding that allocation and daily management decisions have direct economic consequences to the welfare of the State. Taxes, licenses and permit fees should be adjusted so that all resource users share in the necessary cost of management.

To illustrate these concepts, this analysis examines the results of changing taxation revenue, license fees and monetizing unharvested surplus salmon. A retrospective analysis based on the fully documented 2014 UCI salmon fishery was chosen over projecting into an uncertain future. The 2014 UCI salmon fishery is the latest year for which harvest data is complete. This retrospective analysis will provide the reader an estimate of State revenues resulting from applying a series of revenue options to the 2014 UCI salmon fisheries. There are several options for additional revenue under consideration. First, a review of unharvested salmon stocks, monetizing the economic value they represent and increasing the commercial fishery business tax to 4%; second, increasing the sport fishing license by $5 for resident and $10 for non-resident anglers; third, implementing a new $30 fee for each original dipnet permit.

In this analysis, the effects on direct State tax and license revenue from UCI salmon fisheries would be:

 Harvesting surplus salmon for an additional $1,505,000 at the current tax rate;
 Applying a 1% increase to the Commercial Fishery Business Tax Rate for an additional $350,000 in commercial revenue and $1,715,000 in revenue from the unharvested salmon, totaling $2,065,000 in new revenues;
 Applying a $5 resident and a $10 non-resident sport fishing license fee increase for $900,000 in new revenue;
 Applying a $30.00 fee to the original personal use permit for $900,000 in new revenue.
Total of potential new tax and license revenue is $3,865,000 for UCI salmon.

Read the rest of the report here: Analysis of State Revenue from UCI Salmon Fisheries

Fish and Game’s shelved reports show sportfishing may damage Kenai River banks

The increasing numbers of bank anglers and powerboats on the Kenai River may be damaging the river habitat.

The Alaska Department of Fish & Game released two long-delayed reports in October addressing the effect of bank angling and powerboat use on bank erosion in the Kenai River. The reports, covering the years 2000 and 2001, found that as more anglers fished the river, the more banks crumbled and vegetation disappeared.

The reports are the final two installments of a series commissioned by the Board of Fisheries in 1996 to study the effects of increased sport fishing participation on the Kenai River after the board increased the sockeye salmon escapement goal.

Sport fishing participation more than tripled on the Kenai River between 1977 and 1995. The Board of Fisheries requested that the ADF&G monitor angler use and impacts to the habitats on the river, which was done from 1997 to 2001.

Although the reports from 1997, 1998 and 1999 were published within two or three years, the reports from 2000 and 2001 never appeared.

To read the complete article at the Peninsula Clarion website click  here

Fisheries management can help Alaska solve fiscal crunch

By Erik Huebsch

No more business as usual; we can’t afford it.

Alaskans are starting to understand the new economic reality that this state is facing. We are all more or less aware of the problem and opinions vary wildly as to the solutions. The bottom line is that business as usual must be a thing of the past. We, as a state, simply can’t afford it.

The governor is clearly aware of the new economic paradigm and has said on several occasions that we must “monetize the resources of the state,” We in the commercial fishing industry certainly appreciate that message. We are the first link in the food chain; we feed people and provide jobs, and we begin the process of monetizing our abundant and renewable fishery resources.

To read the rest of this article written by UCIDA vice-president Erik Huebsch at the Alaska Dispatch News site, click here


2015 Upper Cook Inlet Commercial Salmon Fishery Season Summary

ADFG 2015 Upper Cook Inlet Commercial Salmon Fishery Summary has been published, to read the entire document click   here

New Board of Fisheries appointment

Mumford tapped for Board of Fisheries


Gov. Bill Walker’s office announced on May 20 that Robert Mumford has been appointed to the vacant seat on the Alaska Board of Fisheries.

“I am pleased to announce Bob Mumford as my appointee to the Board of Fish,” Walker said. “His vast range of experience in multiple fields — as a commercial pilot, hunting instructor and fish and game State Trooper — has taken him all over the state.”

Mumford is making a lateral move from one board to another after being denied a reappointment by Walker earlier this year. He currently serves on the Board of Game, and his term is set to expire June 30. Kip Fanning was confirmed by the Legislature to replace Mumford on April 19.

According to a Boards and Commissions applicant listing, Mumford submitted his application for Board of Fisheries appointment on April 22, three days after the Legislature confirmed Fanning and rejected previous Board of Fisheries nominee Robert Ruffner on April 19.

Mumford told the Peninsula Clarion May 19 he did not have one specific issue he was looking forward to tackling.

“Right now, it is going to be studying up on a lot of issues that are going on right now. It’ll take me a little bit to get up to speed, although I’ve tried to follow the politics of it,” he said.

Mumford, an Anchorage resident, became an Alaska State Trooper in 1982 and served in the Fish Wildlife Protection Division from 1984 through 2002. Since then, he has served as a security contractor for Alaska Native regional corporation subsidiary Doyon Universal Services and on the Big Game Commercial Services Board as a liaison to Wildlife Troopers.

Walker’s latest pick said he was looking forward to serving on the board. He will not be subject to a confirmation vote until the 2016 session of the Legislature, meaning he will serve through the 2015-16 meeting cycle.

The upcoming Board of Fisheries cycle focuses on finfish, including salmon. The board has meetings scheduled for Bristol Bay, Arctic, Yukon, Kuskokwim, Alaska Peninsula, Bearing Sea, and the Aleutian Chain next year. The next Cook Inlet meeting isn’t until 2017.

Read more here.

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Soldotna, Alaska
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