The curtain falls

keani mouth

The mouth of the Kenai River on a good day of which there have been none yetnthis year/Alaska Department of Fish and Game photo


Update: Just after this story posted, the catch numbers for Saturday’s commercial opening were reported. There was a catch of 150,120 sockeye on the day bringing the season total to 912,069 sockeye.


The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has started the 2017 Cook Inlet sockeye salmon season with a masterful performance.

Under orders to hold Kenai River sockeye salmon escapements through the commercial salmon fishery in the range of 900,000 to 1.1 million fish – with something closer to the former being clearly better than anything closer to the later – fishery managers have gone hard and early with openings in the commercial gillnet fisheries. 

The tactic has worked almost flawlessly.

As of Sunday,  fewer than 140,000 sockeye had made it past a sonar counter on the lower Kenai River. Meanwhile, the commercial catch since the opening of the season was about six times that number at almost 762,000 sockeye.

And commercial fishermen were out again on Saturday expecting to add tens of thousands more sockeye to their catch. A commercial opening off the mouth of the Kenai from noon to 11 p.m. on Saturday “was warranted in order to harvest sockeye salmon returning to the Kenai,” Fish and Game said in an emergency order.

Other emergency openings came last week to head off a surge of sockeye a test-boat fishery indicated was headed for the Kenai. Meanwhile, a regular opening on Thursday netted a total of 281,453 sockeye in the commercial drift and set net fisheries. 

That harvest helped hold the next day’s in-river count  of returning fish to 6,576 sockeye. The number climbed only slightly to 9,186 with commercial fishermen hard at it again on Saturday.

Personal-use dipnetters were starting to whine about the slow fishing with so few fish getting into the river, but they had no one to blame but themselves.

“Last year all over again,” Jason Armstrong lamented on the Facebook page of the Alaska Outdoor Journal.

Curtain of death

The dipnet catch on the Kenai – the most popular personal-use fishery in the state – was last year the lowest in eight years.

The reason was simple. State fisheries managers used the commercial fishery to limit big spikes in the number of salmon entering the stream about 150 road miles south of the Anchorage Metropolitan Statistical Area, a region that includes the Anchorage bedroom communities of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough and is home to more than half of the population of the 49th state.

Thousands from that area every summer flood south along the Seward and Sterling highways to dipnet the Kenai. Twenty-six thousands of them last year caught 259,000 sockeye. The catch was half that of 2011, and significantly below the 426,000 average for this decade.

The catch of less than 10 fish per permit was also well less than half of the lowest limit of 25 fish. It was a small fraction of actual permit limits, which entitle dipnetters to 25 fish plus 10 more for each member of their household.

The Kenai supports the state’s biggest food fishery. Anthropologists Hannah Harrison from Norway and Philip Loring from Canada in 2016 examined the fishery as part of a study on local food security and found Kenai dipnetters a very diverse bunch.

They reported interviewing “71 personal-use fishers, 22 women and 49 men, over the course of 21 days. Of those fishers, 56 were from the Anchorage and (the) Mat-Su Valley area, nine were from the Kenai Peninsula, and six were from elsewhere in Alaska. Of the 71, 47 are Caucasian (two of which identified as Russian), eight are Alaska Native, three are Polynesian, five are Asian American, four are African-American, and four are Hispanic/Latino.”

The multi-cultural mix in the dipnet fishery is a Kenai norm, but the reason so many flock to the river is the same.

“All but a few respondents cited using their harvested fish for food as a primary reason for participating in the fishery,” Harrison and Loring wrote. “While some prioritized the recreational aspect of fishing first, most respondents said they were fishing to ‘fill the freezer’ and discussed the various ways by which they preserve salmon, such as smoking, freezing, and jarring or canning. Respondents indicated some degree of reliance on their fishing activities to supplement their diet through the winter months, ranging from ‘this is our meat for the winter’ to ‘I am on food stamps. This [fish] helps,’ to ‘we wouldn’t starve [without salmon] but we surely wouldn’t be able to afford eating as healthily without these fish.'”

After the mediocre to downright dismal fishing in 2016, many of these people were unhappy.

Much anger, no action

A lousy dipnet season, coming as it did prior to the every-other-year meeting of the Board of Fisheries to consider fishing regulations for Cook Inlet, was expected by some to lead to a broad outcry from dipnetters to change how Inlet sockeye are managed.

It didn’t happen.

Dipnetters complained that the commercial catch of 2.4 million sockeye divided among 1,000 to 1,100 limited-entry permit holders was down only 17 percent over the 10 year average while the dipnet catch was down more than 39 percent from the decade average, but the dipnetters did little more.

An expected turnout of large number of dipnetters to lobby the Board never materialized. The Samoans who organize to dipnet didn’t organize to pressure the board. Neither did the Koreans who sometimes arrive at the river by the van load, or the Japanese, the Hispanics,  the Filipinos, the African-Americans or any other minority communities.

Instead, commercial fishermen with decades of experiencing in steering the board took the lead on the regulatory issues. Working through Kenai board member Robert Ruffner, they maneuvered to try to keep the 2017 dipnet catch as low as the 2016 catch.

And 2016 had provided the blueprint for how to do that: slow the entry of sockeye into the river.

When the salmon hit in waves of 40,000 to 50,000 or more fish, dipnetters do well. When the fish trickle in at the rate of less than 10,000 per day, dipnetters catch very few, and their catch-rate improves only slowly as the numbers increases toward the high end.

Given this, dipnetters have historically done well when the state is aiming for an in-river goal of about 1.4 million sockeye, and even better when the state is exceeding that number. The lower the goal, the worse they do. Ruffner convinced the Board to hold the goal to 900,000 to 1.1 million. 

The idea was pitched as a compromise from the position of the powerful United Cook Inlet Drifters Association which has long pushed for a goal of 600,000 to 900,000. UCIDA argues that if more fish than that are allowed onto the spawning grounds the “rate of return” per spawner falls and commercial fishermen, over the long-term, lose money.

All about money

By managing for lower spawning escapements, commercial fishermen get a higher average catch in years of weak returns, and they lose little in the way of expanded catches when the ocean – which is the wild card in salmon survival – yields a big return.

Given that 2017 was forecast to be a relatively weak year for sockeye in the Inlet, Ruffner convined the board to do what it could to help commercial fishermen catch more fish offshore.

And in that moment, the die was cast for the in-river fisheries – both dipnet and rod-and-reel.

Neither can be expected to be much better this year than last because state fishery managers are doing their best to comply with the desires of the Board.

And though Ruffner led the Board’s decision-making, the Board’s true desires might have been best summed by chairman John Jensen, a commercial fisherman from Petersburg.

The board, he said, made  “a minuscule change…(that) will allocate some more fish to the commercial fishermen who, in my opinion, gave them up.” 

And he is right about the minuscule change.

Taking a couple hundred thousand fish away from dipnetters and giving them to commercial fishermen who catch more than 2 million is a minuscule change. Two-hundred thousand is only about 12 percent of this year’s preseason forecast of a commercial catch of 1.7 million.

And if the catch goes higher, which it now looks like it might, the percentage only gets more minuscule. That some dipnetters might see this differently is understandable, but if they do, they have no one to blame but themselves.

As the anthropologists noted in their examination of the fishery, it exists in a “heavily politicized” environment where it is “a large but casual consumer of the Cook Inlet salmon resource compared to the smaller but professionalized and well-organized commercial and sport fishing user groups.”

And in American democratic politics, the reality is that unorganized and amateur interests are often overlooked in a political process that favors those who actively engage.

Any dipnetters sitting unhappy and fishless on the Kenai beaches reading this on their smart phone really have no one to blame but themselves for the lousy fishing. If there aren’t many fish, it’s because the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is doing a superb job of what the politicians directed it to do – slow the entry of sockeye into the Kenai to avoid exceeding that 900,000 to 1.1 million goal.


















38 replies »

  1. The comparison between the PU and commercial fishery do not fly, all analogies are false. An unlimited fishery where kings spawn and many compete in a small area, not good. Finally, how much gillnet Web on a stick , 5×5=25, x 15,000, square feet, now there’s a substantial curtain of death. As far as cheap protein goes, I think not. A lot of money and equipment spent on any dipnet excursion, especially if guided. MTF.

    • John: the efficiency of any fishery is written in the harvest numbers – not the gear type. harvest wise, the dipnet fisheries appears pretty damn inefficient. that’s probably due to basic human incompetence.
      meanwhile, i hope you realize that your last argument there – the amount of money spent in state to catch a pound of PU fish – is the strongest argument for expanding dipnet fisheries, ie. they maximize the in-state value of the fish.
      i’d long thought of the dipnet fisheries as a variation of welfare, given the ruthless efficiency with which most of my penny-pinching friends kill PU fish, but you and a number of other commercial fishermen have caused me to start wondering about the actual economic value of these fisheries.
      i doubt that they have the economic value of those highly inefficient sport fisheries, but the PU fisheries may be of much, much greater economic value than i once believed if people are buying a lot of expensive machinery or hiring guides to catch fish. someone needs to do an economic study. i’m probably not representative.
      my investment, up until last year, was a tank of petrol a season. the cost did go up after last summer when i broke the dipnet i’d pulled out of the Copper River more than 20 years ago. i finally had to make a new one, but it didn’t cost much. most of the tubing was salvaged at Chitina where people seem to lose or throw away just about everything imaginable.

  2. Craig you should know better than make statement after statement in your article that are flat out lies and misrepresentations. You know that escapements into the Kenai River of sockeye salmon have exceeded the goals significantly more than even meeting the inriver goals or below them. You also know that the drift fleet fished in Area 1 on the catch you reported and the travel time for sockeye to the sonar counter is more than 4-6 days at this time of year. So citing the sonar counter in relation to the commercial harvest was bs. Then you use 2016 and fail to note that entry pattern of fish was what dictated the poor pu catch. That entry pattern was not controlled by commercial fisherman but the biology of the fish. Today people like you are upset because of ignorance of how fish move in UCI. The Kenai River sockeye just entered the inlet a few days ago and you know that they hold in the district for days until they move to the river. You use the commercial catch and imply that they are all Kenai but you know that Kasilof River sockeye is a major component of that catch along with other non-Kenai sockeye stocks. So implying the total catch or a major portion of it is Kenai is not correct. More – OK – Ruffner did not change anything during this time frame for commercial fisherman. The small adjustment made was for latter in the season. Also, you fail to mention the tiers which have been in place since 1999 and those did not change except the levels changed and those changes benefited Kenai River sport fisherman. Also, making this personal to Ruffner when the Board voted to make changes is unethical. It takes 4 votes for something to happen. Are you calling the other Board members sheep who cannot think? Finally my Dad had a comment that applies to you for this article “Only a fool criticizes unfinished work” The season is a long way from being over but you want to create conflict – are you still working for Bob Penney?

    • Ken: to quote a former commercial fisheries biologist for the state of Alaska, “you should know better than to make statement after statement in your (comment) that are flat out lies and misrepresentations.” neither of us know what dead fish were going to do. i didn’t suggest i did. the facts in play are three: the numbers from the offshore test fishery leading up to last week, the big catch in the Inlet, and the lower sonar count on the Kenai. you are right in your observations of 2016. the sonar posted big numbers – 50,695 44,322, 45,853, 45,797 and 50,674 – from July 11 to July 15. those fish came earlier than most dipnetters expected, and thus there were few dipnetters on the river for some of the best days for the PU fishery. was there a replay of this early entry shaping up again? we’ll never know because the commercial fishery fished hard. we were at a catch of nearly 1M sockeye by July 16. were some of those Kasilof fish? of course. some were also Kenai fish. as a former manager of this fishery, you know how this works. to suggest it’s all up to the fish… well, i was tempted to just call you a big, fat liar, but i prefer to avoid the ad hominem attacks you seem to relish. instead, i’m going to assume you simply couldn’t control your emotions because i know that you know that the harvest affects the entry into the Kenai. it can’t not affect the entry into the Kenai. you have to go back a decade to find a year when we had fewer than 200,000 sockeye in-river by this date. are you really trying to say you want everyone to believe the large harvest in the Inlet and the low in-river count is a coincidence and not a factor of the Department adding extra fishing time to hold down the in-river return? is that really your argument? are you really arguing the drift fleet that dipnetters could see parked out there on the horizon just off the mouth of the Kenai last week had nothing – NOTHING – to do with how few fish got into the river? c’mon man. be real.
      now, as for Ruffner, he took the lead in steering the Board toward where the Board went. somebody has to lead. commercial fishermen were thanking him at the time. and now, you want me to believe he didn’t do anything? he played a leadership roll in the Board making it clear it wanted the in-river return held within the 900,000 – 1.1M range. you are right about the past. the range has regularly been overshot, and i never suggested otherwise. the numbers are in the story. on a few occasions, the surplus has come as a benefit to dipnetters. on others, the fish have come too late to be of any benefit to them given the July 31 season closure, but no doubt those fish were of a benefit to the sport fishery. i have no idea where you got the idea the 900,000 – 1.1M level “benefited Kenai River sport fishermen” this year. the Kenai sport sockeye fishery is density dependent, as you well know. sport fishermen simply do better the more fish in the river: 1.2M is better than 1M, 1.4M is better than 1.2M, yadda, yadda, yadda.
      that said, i do agree with you on one thing, the season is not over, though it is short of that “long way” you suggest. there are 13 days left for dipnetters to get a shot. i’d expect that on several of those there will be enough fish to make it worth a run to the Kenai. but the fishery is being managed as the Board told the Department to manage it, and we both know what that order is: commercial fishing is a priority in July.
      if explaining this to the little people is creating “conflict,” so be it. we live in a democracy. the little people deserve to know how the system works. it’s been working to make it harder for them to get salmon ever since the 1950s, first with the elimination of in-river netting, then the elimination of snagging, and finally a tightly constrained dipnet fishery that is good or bad depending on how many fish are allowed to escape the commercial fishery to get into the river. surely you know why we refer to “escapement.”
      lastly, as should be obvious, i don’t work “for” anyone. Bob Penney has contributed to as has have dozens of others. i think it’s safe to say there have probably been stories reported here that made Bob Penney madder than hell. i seem to have a knack for pissing people off. maybe it’s that a lot of people hate facts.
      but if you think contributions some how have an influence, feel free to write me a big, big check. as a Tier 1 state of Alaska retiree, you can afford it, and i could use it. i’m now in that class of Alaskans to whom 20 or so Kenai sockeye (that’s all we need) are a valuable state benefit to help offset the high cost of living.
      now, whether that is the highest and best use of those fish is a whole other subject.

    • Certain goals have been slightly exceeded. But they were not OEG escapement goals. They were in river goals that are NOT Escapement spawning goals. And Ruffner was in the commercial fisher’s back pocket as was clearly shown by his advocacy on their behalf. What needs to occur is a new Governor who will not sell out to UCIDA and KPFA because of their campaign fund raising efforts. One who will fire the current hapless commissioner and replace him with someone from the sports fishing sector. Then replace Jensen and
      Ruffner with people who understand the needs of the hundreds of thousands of Alaskans who Sport fish or dip net. No matter what the current fisheries managers do, the commercial sector represented by Mr Tarbox who was the leader of commercial fisheries when employed by ADF&G and Mr McCombs who fancies himself as the rep of UCIDA, they will want more and more and will never be satisfied.
      Craig, you should not put so much blame on those who did not show up at the BOF meeting. Put some blame on Jensen. He unilaterally changed the day on which so many would have testified from a Saturday to the preceding Friday, a work day for most. All at the last minute. Most anglers and dip netters have day jobs unlike comm fishers who can easily attend with out risking their job on losing a paycheck. Jensen knew exactly what his actions would do: reduce the angler and dip net participation.

      • I concur with your statement that we need a new Governor who has the people’s interest in heart (and not those of the Japanese oligarchs he is kowtow to serve)…Write a letter to Senator Mike Dunleavy…he just announced his bid for Gov….our sport fishing and personal use fisheries are on the brink of collapse from over commercial harvest and all time low in river escapements…this affects moral and local businesses throughout the SE and South Central AK.

    • Then we will finish the work!! It only takes 1 Day for reds to reach sonars below Soldotna bridge. That’s mile 21.
      So you are full of SHIT!
      Btw commercial guys are killing it right now. Stop down and look at the boats unload, and weigh!!
      Pull them for all for a day and watch the sonars!!!!!
      Oh oh look. They went to 125,000.
      Can’t f-ck with the facts.
      Some people should not open there mouth!!
      Life long Kenai River fisherman, set better, drifter, and citizen!!

  3. Dipped yesterday morning out of Kenai City Dock. Decent afternoon, though not spectacular ad commfish was out. During the trip, guide got a call that said ADF&G commfish would be shut down for the remainder of the week due to weak red returns into the Kenai (escapement). They shouldn’t have been out Monday. Next time they will be out will be Monday 7/24 if this guy is right. Should allow some fish to get into upper Cook Inlet streams. Cheers –

  4. Shut down everything for 5 years, optimum escapement numbers is a bunch of BS! I bet the Kenai and Cook Inlet did just fine back before man decided he could “manage” everything! Shut it all down, commercial, sport, everything, let the system rejuvenate, then look at the natural numbers and see how much of a harvest is sustainable. Otherwise Cook Inlet will end up like the Puget Sound, only a hint of what it used to be!

  5. I’m naive. Does the in-system spawning escapement curve parallel that of the commercial catch? This asked with a non-political bend. I’ll not get into the dynamics of fertilized egg development to the fruition of 1 check (one year in fresh water before ocean bound). Where I’m headed with this is, simply put, there are only so many days for fertilized eggs to end up as survivors to the lake rearing fingerling stage. If the aforementioned commercial harvest AND the spawning escapement parallel each other, the potential risk of monkeying with fertilized egg development timing is probably a non issue. If however the respective catch and escapemt lines differ significantly, it would cause me to pause and ponder the side effect(s) of a normal developmental time period to one which has been put on a latent track.
    I commented to Craig’s Little Sue article regarding the Board (it’s archaic) and the need for a single entity, not multi disciplines to manage Cook Inlet. Yes, pie in the sky, totally in left field, yes, but, until the entire inlet is approached as equally important to each species, to each drainage the tail is always going to wag the dog. Proposal impossible? Consider, read Vania’s links. It is patently obvious, sorry if you disagree, the technology to identify nuances of the “wild”, in this case fish is out there and the technology more than ever before, having done this long hand many years ago, the technology is also present to really pin down all the contributory economic components we all like to throw around. We toooo much do not consider the efforts of the “wild” to do what they do when they do.

  6. The only way this one sided approach to fisheries management willl be fixed is to elect a Governor who recognizes that ADF&G and the Board of Fisheries are currently stacked in favor of the commercial fisheries. And that Walker has demonstrated that he favors commercial fisheries and that the hundreds of thousand Anglers and dip netters are not being treated fairly as required by our constitution. A new Governor can fire the ADF&G Commissioner, hire someone with a background in sports fishing, hire directors that recognize the worth of sports and dip net fishing and finally appoint different people to the BOF. The Governor who knows how many voters depend on the resource for recreation and food will be the answer. Support only the candidates who promise to fix the problem!

    • Good comments Flyguy. But this decades old issue is at the fore front of every new governor. their has been only one non-commercial influenced commissioner that i know of appointed. BOF members are appointed by the governor but have to be confirmed by the legislators. with that be said most of legislators are tied to com. fish one way or another. They make sure the BOF makeup is in favor of com. fish folks and only throw a bone to sport fishing interest when they have to.

      It really never boils down to number of voters as much as how much money is contributed to campaign funds.
      Who owns the largest private building in Juneau? United Fisherman’s Ass. Right across the street from the capital.
      The Legislature would not even raise com. fish’s license fees, when all other users fees were increased. instead the legislature continues to fund com. fish at a 28 million dollar lost to the state.

  7. Typical BS post from Craig!
    In river fishermen have always loved it when the managers over-escape the river so they just have to show up and hold their net in the water a few minutes to get their fish. And like most they prefer “catching” to fishing.
    Well, it sounds to me like the managers are doing their job rather well keeping too many reds out of the river and Medred needs to drum up some resistance to them doing their job.

    • excuse me, Bill. did something happen to your reading comprehension skills? the article specifically says the managers are doing a “masterful” job, and that they are keeping reds out of the river. your argument here would seem to be that people who aren’t catching any fish should be kept ignorant as to why they’re not catching any fish. fine. make that argument. it’s valid albeit undemocratic. and the science says that 1.5M, probably 2M, is more likely the best in-river goal for the Kenai. at 1.5M, about 500,000 can be expected to be caught in the sport fishery, which is a density-dependent operation, leaving about 1M to spawn, which might be a little on the low end for fully stocking the system with sockeye.

      • Like I mentioned, Craig its “fishing,” not “catching.”
        I know of nothing in the Board of Fish requirements that their allocation efforts be “democratic,” by the way.
        You’ll have to enlighten us on your science that says “1.5M, probably 2M” is more likely the best in-river goal for the Kenai. And why did the B of Fish ignore your science?

      • I just have to ask, Can com. fish even survive without the State subsidizing com. fish? Sport fishing is funded by the users. When will Com fish be able to make that statement?

  8. Cherry picking? Hardly. You have around 1,400 users getting 98% of all Kenai fish (along with Kasilof and Upper Cook Inlet). Compare that with some 26,000 personal use permits last year and over a quarter million sport fish licenses.

    Your definition of freebies is also laughable, as Cook Inlet salmon are a commonly held resource, supposedly available to everyone who puts a net or hook in the water. We can either allocate the easy way or do it via the hard way. Keep this up guys, and you will end up with a 3 a day and 3 in possession limit. Cheers –

  9. I arrived in AK in 1982, did not need (or have) a weblink to see how many sockeye were in the Kenai, all we had to do was look at the river, constant splashing along the bank told the story. (We were chasing kings anyway). Now i hardly ever see the telltale sign of reds moving upriver. Old sonar, new sonar, comm fish, dipnetters, guides, sportfishermen, lots of users, helluva story. BTW, what about the Kings? If kings were “snail darters” or “spotted owls” the entire fishery would have been closed long ago. Craig is correct, i attended this year’s BOF mtgs, commfish was well represented, other user groups, nope. I do not know the answer but what is happening now is sad. This is not an ez solution but as the only urban subsistence fishery it is very unique. BTW, who do all of these Alaska fish belong to?

  10. Amazing that someone would jump in so quickly to try to say how bad the article was. The truth is the article is exactly on point commercial fisherman have been taking more and more for three decades. It used to be we were allowed six fish a day, but the commercial fisherman said that gave too many to the sport fisherman. The reduction to three a day was for dismal return and supposed of been temporary but the board l led by commercial interest made the three fish limit per day for the sport fishing permanent . Every continuing to take more for the commercial interest. I spent years on the advisory committee and commercial fish has gotten greedier every year. It is time to bring the department of commercial fish to a end.

  11. Nice cherry picking of personal catch figures, and the ignoring of Kenai river history, to slant your article. You say that dipnetters catching only an average of 10 fish per permit last year was bad. Did you ever go fishing at the Kenai River in the 80’s? Back before dipnet-mania, you had to use a pole and line and were limited to 2 reds a day. It actually took work and time to get a bunch of fish. So making the drive today to the Kenai and getting 10 reds is still 5 times better than it used to be. But yeah, Alaskans get addicted badly to entitlements and freebies. So if they can’t get a F150 truck bed full of free fish in a few hours, then somebody is doing them wrong.

    • Tim, “free fish” really? a fishing license is required for dip netters, and they can not sell or trade or barter their catch,(can not recoup their costs) and limited to a dip net, catch limits Sport fishing licenses were raised last year. Unlike the commercial and crewmember licenses. Com. fishers are allowed to sell, trade, and barter.(recoup their costs and profit) Also non-residents are allowed to participate for $60.00 crewmember license.
      Seems to me, you are getting free fish by the semi loads and not the F150 truck.

      • Nothing in the limited entry law prohibits you from purchasing a permit and participating in those free fish, allen! No guarantees that your costs will be recouped or that you will profit-just a chance at them. Really not a lot different than other business opportunities in Alaska with non-residents being allowed to participate (as crewmen or permit holders).

      • the issue is it cost you less in fees to harvest fish than it dose in the PU per limits of fish and efficacy of harvest. But i will also have to point out that while a com. fisherman is fishing they can “take” their subsistence fish. (homepack). Non resident crew members can participate in this “take” opportunity. Unlike state resident subsistence and PU users. Where as non-resident are excluded by law from participating in the “take” of subsistence and PU fish.

        Why point this out is, are you practicing as a business while commercial fishing or as a subsistence user?

      • Nitpick much allen???
        Are you concerned that a non-resident crewman may have touched a permit holder’s homepack? Whew!
        When I first fished commercially, we didn’t even keep track of pu fish but that has all changed and those fish are placed on a fish ticket. Do you think anyone cares a tinker’s damn about whether/not commercial fishermen can harvest their homepack during a commercial opening? What would be accomplished to restrict this use?

      • Consistency in law and regulations Bill. Why should you, in the business of commercial fishing, be allowed to have your non-resident crew member “take” subsistence/PU fish, Whereas my non-resident crew member in my business is not allowed to “take” my subsistence/PU fish.

        Why is this?

      • Like I said, allen who cares whether/not that non-resident crewmember might have “touched” a pu fish??? Nobody’s going to get their pantaloons in a bunch over such an event (except you).
        Would you be happier if said “non-resident” crewman signed an affidavit saying he/she hadn’t touched said pu fish???
        Frankly, nobody but you gives a chit! The fact that an occasional non-resident crewman is on board does not mean that he/she was involved in any “take” of pu fish.
        If you would feel better, allen, all of these non-resident crewmembers could be required to have on file an affidavit saying they would not participate in the taking of pu fish. This is, of course, all bullchit and has nothing to do with anything!

      • Just pointing out all the little advantages is awarded and yet the same nuances do not apply to anyone else or any other business. Why?
        Why do you need to subsistence fish while you are commercial fishing?(at your business conducting business)
        I see that Craig tried to point out Zuckerberg may have been in violation of a PU restriction so there is some concern.

      • Allen, this is really no different than someone keeping say three marten pelts for their own hat-and nobody cares whether/not a non-resident assistant touched one of those pelts. Why would anyone want to harvest their own pelts when they were commercial trapping???
        The only reason this is being treated differently is so that accurate records can be kept, relative to certain fisheries. Like I said, in the 80s no fish tickets were produced for personal use fish, just like no records would be kept relative to a trapper keeping a few marten pelts. For pelts that require sealing, this would be different but nobody would care where the pelts were going, just that there were records kept.

      • some of your logic maybe ture. But can a non-resident take a martian in an area that lays outside a non-subsistence area and that martin has a positive C&T finding?
        subsistence is for residents only, under definitions of subsistence uses, hunting,and fishing. I see no definition for subsistence trapping. But i can only assume they are subsistence, since the BOG has made positive findings and set ANSs for all fur bearer outside all non-subsistence area. try to answer that.

        Furthermore, “commercial trapping” (your term) is giving no allocation to any resource, unlike whereas upto 95% of a resource is allocated to commercial interest.

      • It was called commercial fishing before limited entry. A trapping license allows for the sale of dried pelts without any business license but there may be some areas whereby a trapper may be considered something other than a commercial trapper.
        Frankly nobody gives a chit!
        For whatever reason non-residents are not allowed to participate in subsistence/pu fisheries and yet a resident can participate (even though he/she is not named on the permit). I really doubt that Zuckerberg is going to be prosecuted for his transgression, assuming he had one.

      • sorry to keep pointing out the errors in your statements but a business license is required for trapping if you are selling them. NASICS code 114210 hunting and trapping. see link. The BOG/BOF has no authority over business licensing. they just said you could sell them, not that you did not have to have a business license. The State of Alaska licensing says you have to have one.

        I just believe com. fish is given every advantage to take fish and other user groups are well over regulated and penalized at a much higher rate than

        I care anyways. some don’t like me pointing out the inconsistency among user groups.

      • Well allen, I sold pelts for over 20 years without a business license and for that entire period I was never once asked for my business license. Most of my pelts were sold in Fairbanks or shipped to auction by Joe Mattie. I did spend a bit of time objecting to business licensing about the sale of tanned pelts and finally they told me that a business license was not required for the sale of dried pelts. Never did get a straight answer on the sale of tanned pelts but I still sold them and again was never asked for my business license number.
        At any rate, in all that time the licensing agency could have easily tracked me through the F & G or the export permits I filled out to ship pelts. While they may maintain that one is necessary, it clearly appears to be unnecessary for any reason as it doesn’t require anything in the way of permit, etc. Local Juneau licensing would like to collect sales taxes on business carried out in this borough but the State Licensing bunch has apparantly no jurisdiction. What do they provide for this license???

      • By the way, allen in over 25 years of gillnetting on the Copper River I never once acquired a business license for that business and further, was never asked for my license. I was required to update my permit (yearly) as well as license my vessel each year.
        Really no difference for a trapper IMO.
        If there are any trappers reading this perhaps they can offer their opinion on what they would receive by getting a business license from the State! My position is that the license is unneeded and provides no benefit to a trapper, unless he/she is further marketing his furs after some sort of processing is done to them (such as garment making).

      • Bill, it is just one of many laws on the books. If someone choose to enforce it we would have to comply. it is not the responsibility of a fish processor or fur buyer to check to see if you are licensed. Heck when i sell fur at the big Canadian auction houses they don’t even ask for a state trapping license.
        A license dose not have to benefit you as a license holder. It’s a tax. A revenue generator for the State.My 30 years as a business owner, i have observed that the state only pursues store front businesses. I have a business license for my fur tannery and big game guide. I also have to have an occupational license for taxidermy because i own a tannery and a occupational license for being a big game guide. I also needed a business license when i built wolf traps, as a manufacture. None of these incenses that i pay 100.00’s of dollar for for annually, is that money used to benefit me. It is just revenue for the state to keep government employees working.
        There is no age minimums on who is required to have a business license also. two good examples are. if my son mows the neighbors lawn and receives payment for it more than once a year (lawn care 561730). he is require by state law to have a business license. The same for my daughter who babysits the neighbors children and receives payment for it (babysitting 624410).
        if you read the law AS 43.70.105(6) and AS 43.70.110 (1) you will see i am not making this up. You should feel fortunate that the Division of Licensing is not aggressive on enforcing the laws ( or nobody has made a complaint to the Division of Licensing about this oversight in Like they do on fish charter/ guides and that AWT does not check commercial fishermen for the required state business license for finfish 114111, shellfish 114112, and other marine fishing 114119.
        Like i have said in previous posts. “We have equal protection under the law, but we do not have equal enforcement under the law”.

      • Somehow I just never figured you to be a big government person, allen.
        You parrot something you hear from State Licensing yet it is required for nothing-who in their right mind is going to comply with such bullchit??? Further, such a license gets nothing in return. And explain why it was that Div. of Licensing told me that I didn’t need a business license to sell dried pelts that I trapped myself. I took them at their word and nothing further was necessary from me.
        Why not take a poll of your trapping buddies around Fbks and see how many of them comply with this unnecessary burden-I’ll reckon than less than 5% comply and those may be due to their selling processed furs.

    • Tim: did history start in the 1980s? the Peninsula Clarion once put together a nice summary of the history. it’s attached at the end. people were netting fish from the Kenai in the 40s and 50s, and snagging was for a long time the “personal use” technique to get a lot of fish fast. it’s arguably more efficient than dipnetting. it was banned in 1953. why? too efficient. hook sizes and weights were further restricted in ’58 to making even “accidental” snagging hard. snagging is still banned, even while managers were about possible “over-escapement” in the Kenai. personal-use nets were slowly squeezed out all around the region. they were banned on the Susitna above Alexander Creek were banned in 1959 to restrict personal use. Alaska fisheries were in decline then and personal-use fishermen were the first to go. commercial fishermen pretty much had exclusive use of Cook Inelt salmon by the 1960s, and they’d put those salmon runs in the ditch by the start of the 1970s. that’s when Limited Entry came along. in 1972, voters agreed to amend the constitution to permit it. they were told the amendment was intended to “promote the conservation and sustained yield management of the fisheries” AND stabilize the commercial fisheries. most voters were under the impression everyone – not just commercial fishermen – would benefit from restored salmon fisheries. that hasn’t turned out to be the case. almost all of the benefit has gone to the commercial fisheries. that’s not opinion. that’s a simple fact. go look at the numbers. personally, i’m not a big fan of the Kenai PU fishery. i think, although i don’t know (love to see an economic study of this), that it might provide the least economic value of any Alaska fishery, and i am a big fan of getting maximum value out of all Alaska resources: fish, oil, gas, timber, minerals, brain power… but in the historical context here, the record on this one isclear. personal-use fishermen have been on the losing end for a long time, and it’s their fault. if they don’t like it, they should do something about it. i do find it interesting that you think a story is “slanted” because it explains to people why there are no fish and further explains that a. it’s not the fault of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (which too often gets blamed here), or b.) the fault of Mother Nature, which some are foolish enough to believe because they don’t understand any of this.

      • Good article Craig. the only thing i did not see was the enactment of the 5 non-subsistence areas by the joint boards in 92. because of the 90 McDowell ruling. Also to be consistent with the 82 enactment of the intent of the PU regulation.

        Further more it brings up the debate, should there even be non-subsistence ares?

        Also it is unique that the fed’s call it personal use and then the state termed it subsistance. Now it is just the opposite.

        Good history find.

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