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Evermore salmon

valdez fish farm

Fish farming Alaska style/Valdez Fisheries Development Association photo

This story has been updated

FAIRBANKS – More research is needed into the interactions of hatchery and wild fish in Alaska before the Alaska Department of Fish and Game approves the dumping of additional pink salmon fry into Prince William Sound, an advisory committee to state regulators decided here this week.

Virgil Umphenour, the chair of the committee and a former member of the state Board of Fisheries, says it is troubling that a state which has long prided itself on best-in-the-world, scientific management of its fisheries is allowing ever more salmon ranching with little clue as to the impacts on wild fish.

The committee’s Mike Tinker said the group has been working with the Kenai River Sportfishing Association, which has a fisheries biologist probing the question of salmon interactions at sea. Ricky Gease, the association’s executive director, said Friday afternoon the organization plans to next week file an emergency petition with the Board of Fisheries calling for it to review the latest stocking plans.

He expects the Alaska Outdoor Council, the state’s largest outdoor organization, and other conservation organizations to sign on to that petition along with the Fairbanks advisory committee and possibly others.

A state planning team on April 18 gave approval to a Valdez hatchery to up its pink salmon production by another 20 to 40 million eggs with no study. The five privately run,  non-profit hatcheries in the Sound  already take almong 800 million eggs and release hundreds of millions of fry. In 2016, the reported egg take was 740 million with 643 million pink fry subsequently dumped in the ocean, according to a draft petition to the board. (Attached below)

There are obvious impacts, says Nancy Hillstrand of Homer, who has become an activist for wild fish. She last year warned that hatchery produced pink salmon from Prince William Sound are beginning to take over streams in Kachemak Bay and lower Cook Inlet because they can’t properly find their way home to the hatcheries to the south and east.

Some commercial fishermen see no problem with straying hatchery fish. More fish are more fish, they argue. Hillstrand doesn’t share that view.

“They’re just making fish and pumping them out, and they don’t bother looking at any of the science,” she told the Homer Tribune. “What do we want? If we want nothing but pink salmon monoculture in the state of Alaska, great.”

The Fairbanks group contends that such a change in fisheries would not be great; it would be illegal.

“State of Alaska law mandates that hatcheries shall operate without adversely affecting natural stocks of fish,” the committee in its draft petition calling to review plans for increasing the volume of Prince William Sound salmon ranching.

Some new research indicates hatchery pinks might already be out-competing wild king, silver and red salmon in the ocean which could be reducing returns of those fish to their natal spawning streams. The sportfishing association has long been protective of king, silver and red runs around Cook Inlet.

Fairbanks, meanwhile, considers the Copper River with its runs of kings and reds and something akin to home turf. The Chitina Dipnetters Association has its roots in Fairbanks.

The pink salmon hatcheries are of no benefit to commercial, personal-use or sport fishermen in the Inlet or on the Copper River, but the hatcheries – with some help from state subsidies – have built a $50- to $60-million per year business in the Sound.

Big business

Private, non-profit hatcheries in the Sound are responsible for the bulk of the 1.2 to 1.4 billion salmon fry and smolt dumped into Alaska waters each year. 

The popular perception is that those small salmon disperse widely into the ocean, but they don’t. They enter what amounts to an ocean river – the Alaska Coastal Current – and ride it north where they mix with young salmon emerging from Cook Inlet.

The concentration of young salmon in this oceanic river has long been known.

“The strong preference by juvenile salmon to remain over the continental shelf of the Gulf of Alaska as opposed to offshore waters is not fully understood. One of the major oceanographic features along the continental shelf of the GOA is the Alaska Coastal Current (ACC), which is a vigorous counter-clockwise current around the continental shelf and is the main transport of dissolved substances and plankton along the coastal GOA,” federal researchers working in the Gulf observed almost two decades ago. “It is possible that the ACC serves as essential habitat by providing a nurturing area for juvenile salmon.”

The current pushes into the Barren Islands off the mouth of Cook Inlet. “Upwelling of nutrient-rich waters around the Barren Islands leads to high local productivity, which in turn results in high abundance of forage fish species,” scientists studying the area in the wake of the Exxon Valdez oil spill reported in 2002.

They noted the bounty of plankton that nourishes young salmon and the high frequency of salmon in the diets of seabirds that nest in the Barrens and the surrounding islands. They did not examine possible interactions between young, wild fish and the masses of young, hatchery fish now pushed into the area.

Scientists have since suggested that in the competition for food the large numbers of hatchery pink salmon could be besting wild Chinook, coho and sockeye salmon in the quest for survival.

“In addition to the straying issues observed in Lower Cook Inlet,” the Fairbanks group wrote, “recent scientific publications have provided cause for great concern over the biological impacts associated with continued release of very large numbers of pink salmon fry into the North Pacific Ocean.”

“In Alaska, declines in size at age and abundance of Chinook (king) salmon and coho (silver) Salmon and a decrease in age at maturation in Chinook salmon may be related to the alteration of the food web by highly abundant pink salmon and higher mortality during late marine life,” fisheries scientists Gregory Ruggerone and James Irvine reported earlier this month. “For example, length of age‐1.4 Chinook salmon from six Alaskan stocks was negatively correlated with pink Salmon abundance in 1983–2012.”

The negative correlation would indicate the Chinook were competing with the pinks for food and losing. The Ruggerone-Irvine study was published in Marine and Coastal Fisheries – Dynamics, Management and Ecosystem Science.

The study hinted that hatchery fish may in some cases be displacing and replacing wild fish in the North Pacific. It warned that though it might not appear that the small numbers of salmon in the ocean compared to other species could affect the entire food chain, there could be major, localized competition hurting wild fish.

“We hypothesize that the clumped distribution of salmon and their prey, feeding selectivity, variable prey quality, and a requirement for salmon to maintain high foraging efficiency over their life span combine to make only a small portion of the (abundant) prey available to foraging salmon,” the wrote.

Over escapement

In an interview, Ruggerone said, a whole lot more research is needed about “density dependent” interactions, but added there is cause for concern about hatchery fish overwhelming wild fish on the feeding grounds.

Commercial fishermen in Cook Inlet have long complained about so-called “over escapement” in the Kenai River possibly reducing salmon production there because of subsequent competition between fry and smolt in the river.

Irvine studies Canadian salmon and has observed “that sockeye salmon survivals began to decline after 1991 for many stocks because an increasing portion of the juveniles were unable to grow to the size (or possess sufficient energy reserves) required to survive some life history stanza, similar to the critical size hypothesis.”

He suggests competition with pinks and chums might be part of the reason.

In a separate paper published in Marine and Coast Fisheries, he observed that “chum and pink salmon, which constitute the bulk of the salmon in the North Pacific Ocean, appear to have ecological advantages over sockeye salmon during periods of increased competition.”

The only differences between the Ruggerone-Irvine theory and the over-escapement theory is that the competition takes place in rivers within the ocean, the number of young fish involved vastly outnumbers the fish in the Kenai, and the ability of one group of fish – hatchery salmon – to compete is boosted by their unnaturally high numbers.

The boost has been good for some commercial fishermen.

“Prince William Sound fishermen have the highest hatchery fish catches,” the Fairbanks group noted. “In 2017, 45 million salmon returned to the five hatcheries in PWS, accounting for 87 percent of the total salmon harvest. Ninety-three percent of pink salmon were hatchery-origin, and 68 percent of chum salmon were hatchery-origin. In all, PWS hatchery harvest added up to 62 percent of the total with a dockside value of $64 million.”

With an eye to making even more money, the Prince William Sound Regional Planning Team, a group on which Fish and Game is supposed to maintain oversight, gave the Valdez hatchery permission to take even more pink salmon eggs and produce tens of millions more pink fry to dump in the Sound.

The Fairbanks advisory group says the Board of Fish needs to review that decision with an eye toward “biological and allocative impacts.” In Alaska, the Department of Fish and Game manages fisheries on a day-to-day basis, but the Board is the state entity that is supposed to set the standards for how state fisheries are managed.

When the Fairbanks committee petitioned the Board to change agency allocations of king salmon in the Copper River last year, however, Commissioner of Fish and Game Sam Cotten rejected the petition saying his agency’s decision to close sport and personal-use dipnet fisheries for kings and give nearly all of the fish to commercial fishermen didn’t meet the state petition standard requiring an “emergency.” 

Fairbanks advisory committee members expect a hatchery request might be rejected as well. Cotten is a former purse seiner who made his living catching pinks, and his son is now a commercial purse seiner who stands to benefit from larger return of those fish.

 

This is a draft of the petition the Kenai River Sporfishing Association plans to submit:

Petition for finding of emergency and scheduling hearing on biological and allocative impacts that will result from recent changes to Prince William Sound Private Non-Profit Hatchery Management Plans adding 20 million pink salmon egg take to existing permitted capacity.

We, the undersigned organizations, strongly recommend the Alaska Board of Fisheries make a finding of emergency and subsequently schedule a time certain to consider management options for fisheries supported by hatchery pink salmon in Prince William Sound and Lower Cook Inlet in response to recent (April 19, 2018) actions taken by the Prince William Sound Regional Planning Team to amend hatchery management plans to allow for an increase in the number of pink salmon eggs taken by 20 million.

In accordance with 5 AAC 96.625 Joint Board Petition Policy, it is the policy of the boards that a petition will be denied and not schedule for hearing unless the problem outlined in the petition justifies a finding of emergency. In accordance with state policy expressed in AS 44.62.270, emergencies will be held to a minimum and are rarely found to exist.

In this section, an emergency is an unforeseen, unexpected event that either threatens a fish or game resource, or an unforeseen, unexpected resource situation where a biologically allowable resource harvest would be precluded by delayed regulatory action and such delay would besignificantly burdensome to the petitioners because the resource would be unavailable in the future.
Factors in support of finding of emergency:

1. Hatchery permits are required for the construction and/or operation of a private non-
profit salmon hatchery in Alaska. Hatchery permits specify the species and number of
salmon that can be incubated at the hatchery, as well as the number released, release
sites, broodstock sources, and other conditions of operation.

2. The Alaska Board of Fisheries has limited authority as it relates to hatcheries. The Board may exercise indirect authority over hatchery production by regulating the harvest of hatchery-released fish in the common use fishery, hatchery brood stock and cost-recovery harvests, and by amending those portions of hatchery permits relating to thesource and number of salmon eggs, hatchery harvests, and the designation of special
harvest areas by the adoption of appropriate regulations. However, Board action that
effectively revokes, or prevents the issuance of, a hatchery permit is probably not
authorized. 

3. The total number of pink salmon eggs that were taken for rearing in PWS hatcheries in
2016 was 740 million. That same year, 643 million pink salmon fry of hatchery-origin
were released into Prince William Sound.

4. Prince William Sound fishermen have the highest hatchery fish catches. In 2017, 45
million salmon returned to the five hatcheries in PWS, accounting for 87 percent of the
total salmon harvest. Ninety-three percent of pink salmon were hatchery-origin, and 68
percent of chum salmon were hatchery-origin. In all, PWS hatchery harvest added up to
62 percent of the total with a dockside value of $64 million.

5. Pink salmon that showed up in streams across Lower Cook Inlet in 2017 weren’t all local stocks — in some streams, up to 70 percent were releases from Prince William Sound hatcheries. Prince William Sound hatchery-marked fish were present in every Lower Cook Inlet stream sampled. In Fritz Creek, 70 percent of the 96-fish sampled were from Prince William Sound hatcheries. In Beluga Slough, 56 percent of the 288-fish sampled were from Prince William Sound.

6. The State of Alaska law mandates that hatcheries shall operate without adversely
affecting natural stocks of fish – 5 AAC 39.222. Policy for management of sustainable
salmon fisheries. (c) (1) (D) effects and interactions of introduced or enhanced salmon
stocks on wild salmon stocks should be assessed; wild salmon stocks and fisheries on
those stocks should be protected from adverse impacts from artificial propagation and
enhancement efforts.

7. In addition to the straying issues observed in Lower Cook Inlet, recent scientific
publications have provided cause for great concern over the biological impacts
associated with continued release of very large numbers of pink salmon fry into the
North Pacific Ocean. “Numbers and Biomass of Natural- and Hatchery-Origin Pink
Salmon, Chum Salmon, and Sockeye Salmon in the North Pacific Ocean, 1925–2015”
Gregory T. Ruggerone and James R. Irvine.

8. It is certainly unforeseen and unexpected that release of millions of additional hatchery-produced pink salmon fry into the marine waters of Prince William Sound without a doubt threatens the biological integrity of wild stocks of pink salmon in Lower Cook Inletand potentially adds to an already critical ocean rearing situation.

9. It is certainly unforeseen and unexpected that fishing patterns in Lower Cook Inlet could be altered in a manner that affects the traditional allocation of the salmon resource without consultation with the Alaska Board of Fisheries.

10. It is certainly unforeseen and unexpected by the public that the Alaska Department of
Fish and Game, the state agency charged with stewardship of the state’s salmon
resource, would agree to an amendment to the Annual Management Plans for Private
Non-Profit Hatcheries in Prince William Sound, providing for a substantial increase in the taking of pink salmon eggs when up to 70 percent of all pink salmon sampled on
spawning streams of Lower Cook Inlet in 2017 were of Prince William Sound hatchery
origin.

The relief sought by this Emergency Petition would be to have the Alaska Board of Fisheries formally request that the Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game put theincreased authorization for taking of pink salmon eggs by the Private Non-Profit hatcheries in Prince William Sound on PAUSE until adequate consideration can be given to all the issues associated with this action.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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29 replies »

  1. I support this petition. Tired of seeing piles and piles of dead hatchery pinks smothering wild streams. This is waste. Hatchery pinks have decimated what remained of pinks after ‘64 earthquake, oddly one of the reasons for establishing PWS hatcheries. As that gene pool is narrowed, diversity is compromised and the entire stock of pinks is at risk at any one time.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. OK Craig, please, no more articles about fake news. Because this article shows you have been feeding us fake news for decades. And you don’t want to be a rabid hypocrite, right? For longer than I can remember you have been spewing: “It’s the Cook Inlet setnetters! Gill nets are the devil! Cook Inlet commercial fisherman are the source of all Kenai and Mat-Su fish problems! Come with me you Bob Penny minions, let’s tar and feather those poor-ass setnetters! Death to infidel setnetters!” And what does time tell us? That you were wrong. Very wrong. The root of the problem is not Cook Inlet set netters. It’s the PWS purse seine mafia that is overloading the Gulf of Alaska with more hunger than food. So again, please – no more sniping articles about “fake news”. Because you are a proven leader, with a very long track record, in “fake news”.

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    • James: the biological facts, unfortunately, reflect that gillnet harvets – as with any other harvest by indiscriminate fishing gear – are a problem in mixed stock fisheries. setnet harvests are an issue for Kenai kings, because you can’t fish sockeye and not catch kings though you could probably reduce the number significantly by changing how you fish the nets, but that’s another story.
      drift gillnets, meanwhile, most decidely influence escapement to the north end of Cook Inlet. i don’t think gillnets are the “devil” anymore than i think “trawls” are the devil. they’re fishing gear. various kinds of fishing gear has pluses and minuses. trawl gear is economically efficient, very economically efficient. it also fishes dirty.
      so did gillnets, but not nearly as dirty as trawls.
      i confess i favor the cleanest gear over the dirtiest gear. so does the Constitution of the State of Alaska which calls for wise management of all our resources.
      and i don’t know if anyone is the “root of the problem” because there are multiple problems. what i do know is that the science would indicate that we need to look at whether hatchery pink salmon are reducing the production of other, wild species.
      i don’t think hatcheries are evil either. i think the world is a complicated place.
      fake news makes it a simple place. that’s the difference between me and fake news. i will continue to try to illustrate that difference.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Craig,
        Gillnets, by definition are discriminate…targeting certain sized fish and certain soecies of fish, trawl gear not so much.

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      • Steve-O: i think you meant “species,” not soecies. but gillnets don’t select for species. they target whatever size fish will get hung up in the net. there is some size discrimination. there are also other fish oversized for gilling – such as king salmon – that will tangle, not gill, and get caught in the net even though they aren’t the target size. nobody has any real idea of the drop-out rate loss for those fish after entanglement.
        there are a lot of issues as to selectivity in all fisheries, starting with where and when gear is fished. trawls can fish pretty clean in circumstances where they target species that are concentrated. gillnets can fish pretty dirty in circumstances where salmon are of the same size size but different species, say mixed sockeye, coho and chum.
        traps are, of course, far and away the cleanest gear because unwanted catch can be released unharmed. but the state of Alaska banned traps at statehood in hopes of removing Seattle influence over the Alaska fishing business which is now largely run by Seattle.
        http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/Library/243234.pdf

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      • Yeah, I fat fingered the P in species and ended up with an O…not everyone can afford the high dollar editing crew you have!

        I didn’t really want to get into the weeds on this one, since I agree there must be major issues with dumping billions of lesser value salmon into the ocean year after year. But, gillnets target individual species, to say otherwise is either being intellectually dishonest or outright disregarding the obvious, I’ve never heard of anyone using a herring gillnet to target salmon or vise-versa. A trawl or even a seine catch virtually everything that is scooped up, that is not the case with a gillnet. In our highly targeted salmon fisheries this is even more true, for both gill and seine, the same cannot be said for trawl…sure trawlers can target to a point but nothing close to our salmon fisheries. There is no doubt there is entanglement of different species in gillnets, but by and large and fished in the way they are fished commercially in Alaska they are extremely efficient at targeting individual species.

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      • Steve-O – the large coho catches in the sockeye-targeted Cook Inlet gillnet fishery argue exactly the opposite. gillnets target for size, not species which is why they will generally distinguish between a herring and a salmon. but, and this is an important but, our herring fisheries by and large take place when there are few salmon around which seriously minimizes the risk of bycatch. in that regard, they are like well-conducted trawl fisheries, which depend on stock separation to minimize or sometimes nearly eliminate bycatch.
        p.s. i wish i had a high-dollar editing crew, since the entire staff is me.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Well, when it comes to money people are known to argue just about any point. I no longer commercial fish and have no monetary interest in commercial fishing whatsoever. I currently sport fish every chance I get, in other words the only dog I have in this fight is the few fish I catch out of the Inlet every year.

        Fact remains, gillnet fishermen use different size mesh to target different species and different size nets are very effecient at catching those targeted species. I don’t have the exact numbers from last years CI catch totals nearby but let’s just say the commercial catch was 1.8 millions reds, 300,000 silvers, and 2,000 kings. Now, I know it will be hard for some to get past the silver count, but since many think/suspect/know that a large percentage of that was a targeted take we will move on and don’t need to kick that dead horse. The catch of kings by these targeted fisheries was about 1/10th of 1% or 0.1% of the overall take, by just about any measure a well executed targeted fishery…the same thing could be said about the 300,000 silvers caught last year, just saying.

        PS I was just giving you the business about the editor, I try not to make mistakes in my writing but don’t feel the need to point out the mistakes in others.

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      • i certainly never heard anyone admit to that coho taking being targeted,and it was taken with sockeye gear during a sockeye opening, which pretty much illustrates the point the gear isn’t species specific.
        your math, meanwhile, is irrelevant. what matters is not the percentage of the total catch, but the percentage of species catch. and the UCI commercial catch of Chinook was 7,369 – not 2,000. (http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=commercialbyareauci.salmon_harvest)
        so for percentage of run we’re looking at 20 percent (given all catch is reported), which isn’t that bad for a mixed stock gillnet fishery, but isn’t exactly clean either.
        i’m sure their harvest of herring was zero percent, however. gillnet gear is indeed clean to the extent it won’t catch fish that can swim thorough the mesh. once the mesh starts catching fish it gets dirtier. in mixed stock fisheries with fish of about the same size but of different species it can be as dirty as trawl gear.
        selectivity for size occurs on a curve:
        “The heights of selectivity curves increase with mesh size. (ie. if you fish 10 inch mesh you catch only big kings and most everything else swims through). Selectivity depends mainly on fish size and shape and mesh size, but is also affected by the thickness, material, and color of net twine, hanging of net, and method of fishing. The left slopes of selectivity curves represent smaller fish wedged in the meshes; the right slopes, larger fish mainly tangled by head parts. The curves may be very skewed or multimodal for fish that are easily tangled.” (http://www.nrcresearchpress.com/doi/abs/10.1139/f75-233)
        you can go here and get the formula to plot gillnet selectivity curves: http://www.fao.org/docrep/005/X7788E/X7788E05.htm
        you should be able to entertain yourself for hours punching numbers in there for fish size and mesh size. call ADF&G if you come up with numbers that will prevent coho salmon from being caught in sockeye gear. they’ve been futilely working on that problem for decades.

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      • You got me on the kings Craig, like I said I didn’t have the numbers in front of me, so it’s 0.4%…my bad.

        I simply stated what has already been observed, if you think the silvers were taken during a sockeye opener with sockeye gear that’s fine. If ND silvers are the same size as UCI sockeye then yeah I suppose they could use the same gear to catch silvers and reds, but if the guys fishing near Kasilof use the same gear as the guys near Kenai then somebody isn’t catching fish.

        You really do your argument a disservice when you compare gillnets to trawling, but by all means continue to do so. I remember hearing a saying something about attracting bees with honey…but whatever, to each their own.

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      • “Selectivity depends mainly on fish size and shape and mesh size, but is also affected by the thickness, material, and color of net twine, hanging of net, and method of fishing.”
        Relative to above statement Craig, the “color of net twine” would only enter into things in clear water IMO. The big fisheries for kings, setnet in CI and Copper River drift, tend to be entirely in murky water where color has no bearing whatsoever. Hanging extra gear in the net clearly enhances entanglement and thickness can influence whether/not kings break through.

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      • Steve: it’s fishing gear. it should all be compared. it all has pluses and minuses. midwater trawling is efficient but unless done by conservation-minded fishermen can have all kinds of bycatch problems. done right, the bycatch can be minimized. bottom trawling, on the other hand, should probably be done away with it. it’s too much like cat-clearing and paving. longlining is cleaner than trawling, but it can have significant bycatch as well. trolling is cleaner than gillnetting, but it’s hard to catch some species that way. same for purse seining and gillnetting, but again depending on time and place. the Icy Strait purse seine fisheries were dirty as hell. those for pink salmon in the bays of Prince William Sound catch almost nothing but pink salmon. it’s fishing gear. the most efficient and best fishing gear is the trap. you can catch a lot of fish easily and let go unharmed the ones you don’t want. but we outlawed the trap at Statehood because we didn’t want the Alaska fishing business controlled by Seattle and now the Alaska fishing is is controlled by guess who.

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      • Craig,

        We agree on more points in this conversation than we disagree on.

        Gillnetting as is currently practiced in Alaska is an extremely “clean” way of fishing and not an indiscriminate method of fishing, certainly not one on par with trawling. Hell, the Ninilchick natives have a gillnet strung way up the kenai halfway across the river because it is so good at catching sockeyes and not kings or silvers or even rainbows! Imagine trawl gear being used in the upper reaches of the kenai doing the samething…not likely.

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  3. “Commercial salmon fishermen in Southeast Alaska, Prince William Sound, Cook Inlet and Kodiak formed PNP regional aquaculture associations to operate hatcheries.

    Fishermen in these regions pay a self-imposed tax on their landings that help fund the operation of the associations. Other independent PNP corporations, such as the Valdez Fisheries Development Association, the Douglas Island Pink and Chum Corporation in Juneau, and Armstrong Keta, Inc. on south Baranof Island, also built and operate hatcheries.

    Today, there are 25 hatcheries operated by PNP corporations.”

    So Bill, that is right off F&G website….
    The commercial fisherman run the non profit hatcheries.
    They always want more harvest never less.
    Cotten and his family are tied into commercial fishing.
    He closes the streams for salmon fishing, lies about closures on the commercial side and ups the production while “stonewalling” any opposition to his measure.

    Does that lay out the “process” for you?

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    • As usual Steve, you are cluttering up the process with BS.
      My question had to do with this particular “process” (4/19/18 decision by PWS Regional Planning Team). You either have the information or you don’t. When you decide to inundate us with BS, then I’m assuming you don’t have anything to add.
      And you are full of chit about fishermen run those hatcheries. I’m not saying that fishermen don’t have a say, but they are run by their own boards.

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  4. Yes the BOF has delegated authority to the commissioner on determining if a emergency exists. But if two BOF members want to have the issue reviewed, a special meeting will be held by the full BOF. This is what happen last year when the Fairbanks Advisory Committee submitted it’s emergency petition on the Copper river king salmon closer. Two members called for a special meeting to deal with the emergency petition request.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are correct Allen. It takes two BOF members to override the Commissioner’s decision on whether an emergency exists. That function had always been the perogative of the BOF. Delegating it to the Commissioner is an abdication of the Board’s duty. Particularly when the emergency proposal impacts allocations, which is the exclusive responsibility of the Board to decide. Psychologically once the Commissioner makes that decision it becomes difficult to get two Board members to fight the Department. Why would the Board allow the Fox be in charge of the chicken house. The reason for this procedure was to save money. The Board Support director and Cotten pushed a previous Board chairman to get this policy passed. As soon as the Board makeup changes that policy will will be abolished.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Craig, do you have anything on the process where PWS Regional Planning Team gave permission (4/19/2018) to change the number of pink eggs to Valdez Hatchery? I suspect that decision was not done in a vacuum. F & G supposedly has oversight here but has there been any mention of said oversight?

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    • i wasn’t at the meeting, so i don’t know, Bill. ADF&G once rode herd on the regional planning teams. i’m told that’s slacked off. the RPTs are made up of three ADF&G employees and three PNP reps. even when the RPTs told the hatcheries not to do things, the hatcheries did as they chosey and there were no repercussions. i’m told – though again i wasn’t there – that what happened at this hearing was pretty much a rubber stamping. the state doesn’t put the minutes online; so there’s no way of telling. the state also lacks any sort of statewide planning team to look at coast wide impacts from hatchery releases.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks Craig.
        I suspect those minutes can be obtained and they might be telling.
        Hard to say that this situation warrants such an emergency hearing but not impossible to get a couple of Board members to ask for it.
        I recall years ago that hatcheries tried to take all the eggs they were allowed to keep their hand in (and not lose them) but this is a specific increase that, seems to me, would involve something other than a “rubber stamping.”

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      • Trust me, the Dept and specifically the Commissioner still rides heard over the RPTs and there would be no significant increase in the number released with out approval from the Dept. And the hatcheries would not do as they wanted in this matter. And if the Dept did not think it was appropriate it would not happen.

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      • Well AF, the question in my mind is “what is the reason for the Departments approval?” I suspect there is some paper trail in this “appropriateness” and it’s very likely in the minutes of that meeting. There may/may not have been any push-back from any of the members but it would be nice to know IMO.

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    • The permit alteration request was authorized in 2014 for the addition of 40,000,000 pink salmon eggs pending construction. 2016 they added 20,000,000 and for 2018 they are planning to add the other 20,000,000. The point is the irresponsibility of releasing any more fish when the intense straying is occurring in lower cook inlet, the outer gulf of Alaska streams and who knows where else? Monitoring is so lax we don’t even know the extent of the straying elsewhere too and still more fish are spewed?thwvgrave uncertainty warrants cease, stop, pause. Not arrogantly continue to degrade. This is seriously unacceptable!

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    • The permit alteration request was authorized in 2014 for the addition of 40,000,000 pink salmon eggs pending they demonstrate physical capacity by adding construction. 2016 they added 20,000,000 to the AMP (annual management plan) and at this April RPT meeting for 2018 they are planning to add the other 20,000,000. The point is the irresponsibility of releasing any more fish when the intense straying is occurring in lower cook inlet, the outer gulf of Alaska streams and who knows where else? Monitoring is so lax we don’t even know the extent of the straying elsewhere too and still more fish are spewed?thwvgrave uncertainty warrants cease, stop, pause. Not arrogantly continue to degrade. This is seriously unacceptable!

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      • What you say is not unreasonable IMO. My position here is for the BOF to grant an emergency order to take up this increase in release from that particular hatchery.
        Further, some discussion needs to be had relative to the huge amount of straying that is occurring due to the huge numbers of pinks being released. And, while we are at it, what is the result in the ocean feed levels due to these large numbers of salmon eating their way home? These are two separate issues but both need some discussion to determine just how detrimental they each are to our overall wild salmon health IMO.

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  6. Unfortunately, there is little hope that the Board of Fisheries will reject the Department’s plan to increase hatchery fish. First, under current BOF rules the Board has delegated the question of whether there is an “emergency” warranting a special BOF meeting to the Commissioner, who made the decision to add hatchery fish in the first place. Talk of a real conflict! That policy must change.
    Second, the BOF has demonstrated countless times that commercial fishing opportunities trump conservation efforts. The Board is chaired by a commercial fisherman whose family has limited entry fishing permits and halibut quota. He has been pressured numerous times by the Governor to favor commercial fishing interests. Other Board members have been similarly pressured. One member has personal service contracts with the state including working for the ADF&G. Think he will oppose the Department’s decisions? So, it seems to matter little that the decision to release hundreds of millions more fry into PWS may well have serious long term conservation or biological concerns, if to do so benefits the commercial users in the short term.
    The emergency petition will hopefully at least get the matter on the table for a short time. And when the current governor and ADF&G commissioner Cotten are handed their hats after the election, the new governor will appoint a new Commissioner and new BOF members who will make decisions that favor the many and not the few.

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  7. “Humpy Nation”
    Pink Salmon fill the creeks of Willow all the way West to the Alaskan Range…
    Even during August “Silver” runs, you can expect to catch five pink for every one silver.
    Hatchery fish?
    They must be.

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