Entitlement state


The scene at the mouth of the Kenai River last year at this time/Craig Medred photo

KENAI RIVER – Rain was sprinkling the mouth of Alaska’s most fought-over river on Monday as a hundred or so Alaskans probed the water with dipnets hoping to scoop up some of the sockeye salmon returning in bits and spurts.

Offshore a lone seal cruised the river mouth looking for breakfast as well. Back in the day, the animal would have had a bounty on its head, and it probably wouldn’t have survived for long.

“The (Territorial) Legislature was bullish on the bounty program, both in response to citizen concerns and because its members felt that salmon constituted an important part of the harbor seals’ diet,” a National Park Service notes in a history of pre-Statehood seal hunting along the Kenai coast.

A scientific investigation in the mid-1940s concluded salmon were but a small part of the seals’ diet, but that didn’t do the seals much good. Losses estimated at  “2 to 10 percent of the fish caught (by commercial fishermen) or even more” off the mouths of the Copper River near Cordova and the Taku River near Juneau led to a war on seals, the history says.

With the seals “‘a costly nuisance’ to several of the area’s gill net fishermen,” the history says, “the Alaska Territorial Department of Fisheries…recognized that the bounty…was an ineffective way to control seal populations and thus reduce damage to the territory’s fish runs. It therefore responded to area-specific complaints by instituting a small-scale program of seal control. In 1951, a summertime employee was stationed at the mouth of both the Stikine and Copper rivers, where rifles were used to dispatch harbor seals. ”

Over the next eight years, gunners managed to kill more than 30,000 seals off the mouth of the Copper. No one complained. It was generally viewed as a good thing.

Why not?

Alaska salmon fishermen are covetous of their fish. In territorial days, Dolly Varden char and bald eagles also made the list of salmon eaters that need to be killed off.

Fishermen have come a long way in Alaska since then. They are now more receptive toward natural predators, and only want to kill each other.

Fish wars

That is an exaggeration, but there are reasons the Cook Inlet “fish wars” are called wars. Fishermen – all fishermen – have a serious selfish streak. With the sockeye sputtering into the Kenai today, there were some on the beach whining about the Inlet’s commercial fishermen who have to date caught slightly over 666,000 sockeye.

That might sound like a lot, but it’s only 35 percent of the pre-season forecast for a harvest of 1.9 million, and the forecast is looking suspect. With the Kenai sockeye return near its midpoint, the catch is below expectations and in-river returns are tracking well below the trend line needed to meet the minimum spawning goal.

The hope is that the fish are just late, as they were in 2017. Last year, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game hit the panic button and closed commercial fisheries with only 306,000 sockeye in the river on July 22. Two days later, the fish swarmed the river. Within six days the number of fish in-river had more than doubled.

State fisheries biologists are now gambling on a replay. Commercial fishermen were at work in the Inlet on Monday even though the July 22 count this year was more than 11,000 lower than last year.

Commercial fisheries management is not an exact science. It is more an art. Dipnetters familiar with history were nonetheless concerned, and at the Facebook page of the Alaska Outdoor Journal, Gary Barnes, who has monitored Kenai fishing for decades, went off.

“Of course from the tens of thousands of Alaskans and visitors’ view point the announcement of all comm nets fishing on Monday was not something any of us wanted to hear,” he wrote. “For those who want to chime in with a comment about getting one day of fishing on the river or a day or two of dipping is enough for us, let’s change the commercial season to ONE DAY a year too and see how you like it. We’ve added 500,000 more Alaskan mouths to feed since Limited Entry and have not been provided a proportional amount of the salmon fisheries based on our population growth. Commercial fishing has completely stifled economic development on the Kenai Peninsula since 1974 when Limited Entry fixed the number of boats and beach sites to an exact static number that has not added ONE ADDITIONAL JOB to the Peninsula since 1974. Same people on the boats, same people on the beaches, same number of people on the slime lines at the processors. And in addition the largest and most notable fish cannery.”

Mine, mine, mine!

The reaction was pretty much to be expected given that nearly all Alaska salmon fishermen share one thing in common.

Commercial, subsistence, personal-use dipnet, or sport, they hold to the view that “it’s all about me.” And this being the time when Cook Inlet, the big body of water that laps at the shore of Alaska’s largest city, is building toward the peak of the sockeye season, most of them are sure to be angry at somebody if there isn’t a salmon on every line and at least 100 in the boat.

For three out of four of Alaska’s classes of fishermen, there is one big, obvious target, too: the commercial fishery. Commercial fishermen are easy to pick on, because they are small in number – about 1,100 active in the drift and set gillnet fisheries in Upper Cook Inlet – and because they catch most of the Inlet’s salmon.

But there’s plenty of disdain to go around.

Many of the sports find the over-the-top blood lust and sometimes ignorance of the dipnet beaches disgusting. There were some dipnetters today wrestling with identifying a 6-pound salmon with spots one of them caught.

Sockeye have no spots. They thought the fish might be a king, which must by law be released. So they decided to play it safe and roll the salmon back into the river. It was a pink salmon.

Pinks have large, oval spots. Kings look more like they were sprinkled with coarse pepper. The two fish are not hard to tell apart if you’ve seen a few of each, but for people who think of dipnetting as something akin to a free day at the supermarket, labels would be helpful.

These aren’t people interested in fishing. These are people attracted to the  free-for-the-taking salmon. And there are some, maybe too many, who think of the fish as another of those things (like the Permanent Fund Dividend) they are owed for hanging on in the Godforsaken frozen north.

Some were appalled tourists – TOURISTS! – upstream on the Kenai River might be catching more sockeye salmon than the dipnet crowd and shipping the fish south in coolers.

The fish-filled coolers that go through the Ted Stevens International Airport every summer are source of derision among many Alaskans. Subsistence fishermen especially detest this unless the fish are going home with their relatives.

It’s a family thing. Every Alaska fishermen has in him, or her, a bit of the commercial fishermen who thinks salmon exist wholly for the benefit of commercial fishermen.

Maximum benefit

Lost to nearly everyone are the words of the State Constitution:

“It is the policy of the State to encourage the settlement of its land and the development of its resources by making them available for maximum use consistent with the public interest.

“The legislature shall provide for the utilization, development, and conservation of all natural resources belonging to the State, including land and waters, for the maximum benefit of its people.

Let’s review for a moment: “Maximum use consistent with the public interest…all natural resources…for the maximum benefit of its people.”

And then let’s consider one pertinent fact: Most Alaskans don’t fish.

There are a few hundred qualified subsistence users on the Kenai Peninsula and in the Anchorage Metropolitan Area – two areas home to about 460,000 of the 740,000 people who call Alaska home. That’s nearly two-thirds of the state’s population.

Just under 1,100 of these people, 388 drifters and 690 setnetters, plus  241 non-residents, fish limited entry permits in Upper Cook Inlet, according to the state’s Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission (CFEC).

Upper Cook Inlet is the most hotly contested fishery in Alaska. Depending on the year, anywhere from 30,000 to 36,000 Alaska residents pick up free, personal-use permits to dipnet 25 or more, depending on family size, sockeye salmon from the Kenai or Kasilof rivers or Fish Creek. 

Angler numbers are harder to quantify. Only statewide numbers are available. Statewide, about 162,500 people buy one. How many of them actually fish is unclear. But, for the sake of argument, let’s assume they all fish.

By this measure, 22 percent of Alaskans fish with rod and reel. Five percent of them also pick up a Cook Inlet dipnet permit (one needs to be a licensed resident angler to obtain that free permit). And about a tenth of a percent in Cook Inlet are commercial fishermen, presuming most commercial fishermen also buy a sport-fishing license.

Clearly, there is no way the standard of the “maximum use consistent with the public interest…for the maximum benefit of (the state’s) people” is being met simply by seeing to it that all of these folks catch fish.

Even if they all catch all they want – which isn’t going to happen, especially given that the commercial demand is unlimited – 78 percent of  the Alaska population is likely to come up way short on “maximum benefit.”

Where salmon meet the “maximum benefit” for the majority of Alaskans isn’t in the fisheries; it’s in the economy. The more salmon boost the economy – no matter how they do that – the more the average Alaskan benefits.

The economists at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game could probably define the size of these benefits…if there were economists at that state agency. There are none. There have never been any.

From a biological standpoint, the state has spent decades worrying about the maximum sustained yield of its fisheries, primarily to benefit commercial fishermen – the state’s most powerful special interest.

From an economic standpoint, the state has wholly ignored maximum sustained yield. Ask Commissioner of Fish and Game Sam Cotten how the state can get the maximum economic return on its salmon resource, and he’ll likely assure you it’s by maximizing the commercial catch.

Why? Because he’s a former commercial fishermen clueless as to where the highest economic value of Alaska salmon is to be found. But then we’re all clueless, because the state has neglected its responsibility to manage  for “maximum benefit” to all Alaskans.

Personally, I will confess to the one-time belief that the dipnet fishery provided the least benefit and should be restricted accordingly. Then a commercial fishing friend started ranting about the four-wheelers and boats bought by dipnetters and all the dipnets sold at Costco in Anchorage and all the gas wasted by people driving to the Kenai to dipnet.

And suddenly it was logical to wonder this: How much does get spent on that fishery? How much does the average dipnetter end up paying per pound for his or her catch? If he or she is spending more money per pound for salmon in Alaska than it would cost to buy the fish from commercial fishermen, the Alaska economy wins.

If that’s the case, the state should by increasing the dipnet harvest right up to the point where commercial fish are worth more.

Old studies have already documented the high-value of sport-caught fish. Tourists spend a ridiculous amount of money to come here and catch fish. If any of them come out ahead on their Alaska vacation, it can’t be many. The vast majority of them would be better advised – on a purely personal economics level – to stay home and buy their salmon in the fish market.

But if they’re dumb enough to come here to catch what amounts to $50 per pound sockeye to take home instead buying it for $9.99 at their neighborhood grocery, the state should be managing fisheries to ensure there are enough sockeye in Alaska rivers to encourage these fools to keep coming north.

One can only hope that the state one day grows up enough to figure this out, because what Alaska has endured in its fisheries for years now can only be described as economic mismanagement.

Barnes is overstating when he says “commercial fishing has completely stifled economic development on the Kenai Peninsula since 1974,” but there is a grain of truth there. Commercial fishing coupled with bigger salmon runs did pump money into the Kenai economy, but those days are over.

Commercial fishermen were the big winners in the years immediately after Alaska voters amended the Constitution to give commercial fishermen special status. .

The average gross earning of driftnetters in the Inlet peaked at an average of more than $268,000 per permit in 1988, according to the state’s Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission. The ’80s were, in general, good to drifters. When corrected for inflation, that $268,000 translates into more than $583,000 in today’s dollars.

Drift earnings have, however, fallen a long way since then. They rallied a little in the current decade, but average gross earnings in the drift gillnet fishery have been falling since 2011, according to the CFEC.

The 493 of 569 permit holders fishing that year averaged almost $65,000 for the season. The 581 fishing in 2015 were down to under $19,500. The situation has gotten a little better since then, but not all that much. There aren’t many drifters getting rich.

Setnetters have comparatively lost less – barring the disastrous season of 2012 when they were largely shut down to protect king salmon – but then again they didn’t start in as good a position as the drifters. Average earnings were almost $39,000 for the 548 of 736 permit holders fishing in  2011. That fell to $26,000 in 2015, according to the CFEC. 

Setnetters can largely blame themselves for the $5,389 average gross per permit in 2012; they’ve refused to embrace changes in fishing techniques that hold promise for protecting king salmon so they can fish red salmon – Cook Inlet’s commercial money fish. Some setters think they’re owed kings because the fish are valuable.

But we’ve now reached the point where there aren’t enough kings to fulfill the promise of limited entry for them. When limited entry was begun, it was intended to make commercial salmon fishing into a viable business, and it has for commercial fishermen who hold multiple permits and fish multiple areas.

For many, if not most, however, commercial fishing is back to being a part-time summer job.

And if the state is harming other businesses to support these part-time jobs, Barnes has a point. Either way, the 49th state is  long past the point when it should have come up with a plan for wise economic management of state fisheries, but then that would take some leadership.

And Alaska these days is woefully short on leadership.


Categories: Commentary, Uncategorized

43 replies »

  1. Sometimes ambivalence is a blessing. I quit fishing years ago because of the crowds.

      • Not needing to fight over a piece of the pie gives me a sense of freedom and independence. I’ll let others clamor and make fools of themselves over the resource.

  2. You want to find new ways to give more money to the people in government who can’t spend the money properly and honestly in the first place. More money to the people that haven’t even tried to say the word budget.


    Ever since that Obama (shovel ready jobs), the people have it in their heads that it is the governments job to create jobs. Are you freaking kidding me, that’s not a representive republic governments purpose, that’s a socialistic/communist governments ideology.

    What ever happened to mom and pop places. Private (we the people) businesses, making something of our own, putting in the time and work, so you keep more of your money to spend or grow as we please.

    FREEDOM, instead of a slave to the government. The same government that feels you are to incompetent to spend your own money, they can spend your hard earned dollars way better than you misguided fools can. These are the people you want to find more ways to give your money to.

    Freedom does have a price. That price is taking your destiny into your own hands and making something of what you have and are willing to work for it. Or you can hand the reins over to your government and become a lifeless people. They’ll probably even wipe your a$$ for you, if you ask them to.

    (This rant also applies to local and state governments)
    Note: Roads and infrastructure are paid for with fuel taxes, and with as many people driving today, that pot is full of money.

    • > Roads and infrastructure are paid for with fuel taxes

      That’s not gonna work as well when those newfangled electric cars start catching on…

  3. Easy to bash the PU guys. But remember that fishermen will switch what they depending on the availability of fish. When commfish catches large numbers of silvers, wiping out the MatSu and severely limiting Anchorage and Turnagain Arm silver fisheries, those fishermen will migrate to the Kenai.

    Want to keep Anchorage and MatSu fishermen off the Kenai? Drive commfish silver catch as close to zero as humanly possible.

    Otherwise, you are lying the bed that you participated in making. Cheers –

    • Do away with the PDF, enact a state income & sales tax. Forget the pork, and quit the whining!

      • Those who don’t want a pfd , like sales and income tax are welcome to donate their money to the state . No one will wine . I’m sure their generosity will be rewarded by a carefully spent government budget.

    • I will try not to get too far into the shrubs on this one, using federal dollars spent to try and guilt people into believing something isn’t a good argument. Any article that fails to mention the fact that 35% of welfare recipients reside in California and rank California as one of the states lower on the scale when it comes to handouts is obviously wrong. Clearly the article you linked to is pushing an agenda.

      Federal spending in Alaska, per capita, is high. We also have a very high military presence compared to other states. We also have a disproportionately high level of federal land ownership, in fact Federal ownership of land in Alaska is 61.2%, 4th highest in the nation. At almost 225 million acres that’s more than the smallest 22 states total land mass combined…maybe we should be getting as much federal dollars as those 22 states combined? Using federal dollars spent per state proves nothing and doesn’t further the discussion in any discussion.

      • Steve-0…
        Not sure your point?
        Just because a state has more people on Welfare, that does not correlate to the shear amount of federal spending in a state (Think large infrastructure projects and highways)…
        Yes California has the slums of Los Angeles with 50,000 homeless, but many of them do not qualify for any federal subsidies…also, the CA’s economy has Silicon Valley to balance out their GDP.
        The problem is that an “Income Tax” in Alaska will not solve anything, since our GDP is so dam low (hence, very few people are making good money and folks living in poverty would not pay any taxes anyway).
        So, until we get some solid leadership focused on growing the Alaskan Economy with “New” revenue streams like Bio Med or Tech Industry we are stalled in this current state of affairs. (Military spending does little to nothing to help this problem since the federal money mostly goes towards bullets, bombs, aircraft and bases)…
        Currently AK’s GDP is embarrassing at a rating of 48 out of a possible 56 states and territories in U.S. (We even rank under Puerto Rico and D.C. which are not states in the Union).

      • Steve, AK’s personal income tax generated several hundred million $ prior to it’s sunset in 1980. A similar income tax would most likely get near a $500 million take today as there are many who make good money IMO.

      • Bill,
        We both know there is a huge difference b/w “making good money” and paying “high taxes”.
        Sure, the “civil servant” crowd in AK would contribute a chunk, but then we have all the professionals and small business crowd that are technically “self employed” like the Comm Fish crew to environmental engineers throughout the state.
        I learned first hand with my small business that the “write offs” are endless…
        So, I am thinking that many folks who make a large “gross” amount of money hire very skillful accountants to show little to no profit in the end.
        Many rich folks just dismantle business after business and sell off inventory only to begin a new “start up” the following year under a new name….the IRS allows these folks to show a loss on the books for 3 years (hobby work) then they must “fish or cut bait”…
        Many guys I know up on the slope fit these categories as well…many small businesses with ancillary contracts throughout the state.
        So, I am not as sure as you that this income tax will be as large as a winner as you claim…there may actually be folks who decide to leave once the tax is approved?
        Plus there are the folks who reside in other states and only work in AK a few months a year?

      • Steve It is my opinion is you are correct many business particularly comm fishermen will claim write offs and pay very little income tax . That’s part of why fishermen are just fine with income tax concept. Most comm fishermen take large advantage of laws and don’t pay deck hands as employees . Income tax unfairly targets hard working people who already have barely enough $ and spend to much of their life working. Especially with dollars being so worthless in respect to time spent and amount needed to afford a nice free life . IMO one place you missed the boat though is understanding Alaska economy. As Steve o tried to show. Part he is right . Some not as much . Alaska is young and hasn’t been developing its resources in a fully careful way . It’s tough here for buisness due to our local . Commercial fishermen are very important as are all your economic ideas . Imo

      • Opinion,
        Steve-O was right on with the large amount of military personnel effecting the AK economy, but I feel wrong on his assessment of California.
        Sure they have a large amount of folks on Welfare, but they also have the largest GDP in the nation and hence a large amount of state and city taxes collected. So, this means when Alaskan reps are begging Congress for more money for a road or bridge to “nowhere” ….California can pay for these projects out of state and muni funds….cities like Oakland can even subsidize their own ferry systems. So, the total federal spending in a state is very relevant to any discussion, especially one of “Entitlement”. Like a professor once told me “There is no free lunch”.
        As for the military in Alaska, which with active, reserve and retired veterans is around 100,000.
        This 1/7th of the population works in a virtual “shadow economy” since their paychecks come from the feds, and much of their spending is also funneled through federal programs such as “commissary” shops to buy food and clothes, federal credit unions to invest their money and federal insurance companies for all their insurance needs. This closed loop of income does not penetrate into the state economy.

      • Steve,

        The point is what does the federal money get spent on. As you said highways and infrastructure, we don’t have much of either in Alaska. Most of the federal dollars that all these articles say Alaska ranks highest, or high, are spent on military and on obligations related to federal land ownership.

        The state income tax that was recently pushed would have siphoned about $200 million out of the private sector economy. That doesn’t put a dent in the budget spending deficit.

      • > Any article that fails to mention the fact that 35% of welfare recipients reside in California and rank California as one of the states lower on the scale when it comes to handouts is obviously wrong.

        The article was about federal handouts. California has some of its own social assistance programs, and the federal taxes it pays goes toward supporting the states mention in the article that are higher up on the list.

  4. I’ve stopped trying t ok di pl net ot shore fish. I’ve never once caught a fish on shore. I’ve s plenty a lot of money on quite a few trips and not so much as a small fish. Until I went and paid $250 for a charter. What does this tell you?

  5. Dipnetters are the poster children of the Alaska entitlement party. Since day one of statehood there was commercial fishing and hook and line sport fishing. Only since relatively recently did the gluttonous, grab it cuz it’s “free” masses of blood lusting dipnet crazies show up. Instead of being happy to catch a couple of reds like in the 80s, they think they are entitled to catch dozens of salmon and let them freezer burn in their homes (until they throw the bad fish on the sides of Anchorage Hillside roads). Make fishing great again. Ban dip netting.

    • James,since day one, there was commercial, sport, subsistence and PU fisheries. 5 AAC 77.001. Intent and application of this chapter
      (a) The Board of Fisheries finds that
      (1) before the enactment of the state’s subsistence priority law in ch. 151, SLA 1978, an individual could fulfill that individual’s personal use needs for fish under subsistence fishing regulations;
      It was after the Mc Dowell decision 1981, that the BOF defined what PU is and started making regulation on the PU fisheries throughout the state.
      James PU fishing has been around as long as any other fishery.

    • James: On average for the last ten years or so, there have been approx 34,000 family PU permits issued and over 100,000 Alaskans that have put salmon in their freezers or on their tables. I fully agree that it is wrong when anyone wastes a fisheries resource. But the answer is to take steps to prevent waste, not to
      stop the legitimate harvest by Alaska residents who are those that are included when determining “maximum benefit”. If you are or were a Cook Inlet fisher, I can sympathize with you. Times have changed and where you once had the fishery prettty much to yourself now you have to share it with many others. And it must be very hard to accept that the other Alaskans have rights to try to do exactly what they are doing. Catching fish for food.

    • The fish left on the side of the road in Anchorage were pinks, and by the sheer amount of them they weren’t dumped there by dipnetters. Most likely commercial, unless you know of someone who dipnetted hundreds of pinks. Pinks are targeted by commercial fishermen, not dipnetters. Get your facts straight before you start flinging accusations.

      • the Valley, not Anchorage. but they were headed and gutted pinks with their tails still on. dipnetters are required to remove tails to mark the fish to prevent sale.

      • Craig,

        I believe personal use is required to clip the tails not remove them. Although I think a case can be made that whomever dumped whichever breed of salmon on the hillside in either, or both, the valley and anchorage did not give two poops about following the law regarding clipping or removing tails or dumping salmon or wasting salmon or littering…no matter what kind of salmon they were dumping.

    • yes, but in the early state of Alaska, snagging was legal, and that’s how everyone got their fish for the freezer. it’s arguably more effective than dipnetting, James.
      it ended when salmon runs collapsed in the 1970s, and concerns grew about conservation.
      then it became “unethical.” now there’s a moving target.
      but we could get rid of dipnet fisheries and reinstitute snagging. i’d guess a lot of the Kenai dipnet folk might even prefer that.
      the entitlement party can actually be traced back to limited entry. that really set the stage for the benefits to follow with the idea that because you got here first you were entitled to special privileges.
      after limited entry came the PFD, which was originally to pay you more for each year you spent in state. and the subsistence privilege, which was originally to go to any Alaskan who put in X-years in the state and claimed a need for fish or game to stay alive.

    • I think you slander dip netters . The ones I know are just very happy to feed their family and care for the fish as best they know how . Most consider the high nutrient red salmon like gold and treat it nearly so . Some folks are not careful with the fish but that’s mostly lack of education. Sport fisherman are a bit more likely to alow freezer burn than personal use fishermen. Dip netted fish are by no means free as far as dollars or effort goes . Many folks spend 1-7$ per pound to bring their fish home . That’s not free . That’s paying for your nutrition big time . As far as time and effort most dipnetters take multiple people in a car and fish for 1-4 days sometimes day and night to catch two daily tides. That’s heavy effort for a 0-100 fish . That’s not free nor is it a gimme mentality. They are risking their lives in fast cold water . That’s not a gimme mentality. Nor is it “ entitlement party “ in any form unless feeding yourself is entitlement. It’s more like exercising a right to feed yourself ,catch your own food and live life as an adventure. Now commercial fishermen who do it for profit under a cushioned / limited entry ,protected system might be considered entitlement. Hard to say . IMO

      • That prior comment was meant as a rebuttal to James Hendrix . Slander of dipnetters .

      • Nice rant there Opinion. What is it that makes you think that sportsmen freezer burn their fish more so than PU fishermen? Is that because you PU fish?

      • Bill,It wasn’t a rant it was a picture of an opinion. Though Nice of you to defend Hendrix statement in a back handed way. As to my personal use of salmon “ pu “ you were wrong my statement as to sport Fisher men being slightly more likely to alow freezer burn is through person knowledge and the fact sportsman are often doing it for sport not just food,versus dipnetters who primarily do it for food and occasionally for sport. I’ve seen a lot of sport fishers who love fishing so much ( rightfully so ) they don’t stop when it’s more than they will easily eat . Thus occasional freezer burn. But hey is that so bad ? Maybe they donate it or use for baiting gardening ect . Worst case is the dump then it becomes future plant food . I’m huge supporter of sport fishermen. Pu fishermen and even commercial fishermen. I just think it was wrong of Hendrix to malign dipnetters. Personally I’ve been in all threes shoes . So I’ve got an educated opinion.

  6. “The legislature shall provide for the utilization, development, and conservation of all natural resources belonging to the State, including land and waters, for the maximum benefit of its people.

    Let’s review for a moment: “Maximum use consistent with the public interest…all natural resources…for the maximum benefit of its people.”

    I would interpret “Maximum benefit of it’s people” to be referencing the users/uses and not the majority of Alaskans. I would also interpret “public interest” as to referring to the users/uses and not the majority of Alaskans.Reading article 8 and the first few sections that you reference. One of the most common term or word used is, “uses” which includes/implies user. The same for “benefit”. People who use/uses should have maximum benefit form the resource. The constitution never states or implies “the majority of Alaskans”, but those who have uses or are users.

  7. Dip netters plan family vacations around days the season is open to them. Lots of money is spent on these vacations. Lots! And it is not just about economics to many Alaskans who participate. It is about recreation. To use simple economics as a basis for allocating the fish resources on the Kenai ignores the value of recreational opportunities to many Alaskans. In some cases one could say the benefit is priceless. “Maximum benefit” is not defined solely as economic benefit. Our fisheries resources provides important recreational benefits to PU and sports users that should be considered in the discussion of what is constitutionally required.

    • Can’t you just see a future family heading down to kenai to dip their share of reds out of a State owned fishtrap!!
      What a hoot that would be for the kids.

  8. What next, are we going to be selecting what kind of salmon we want online and which freezer we want it direct deposited in? I want 10% of my overall salmon share, as an Alaskan resident, to go to keeping the salmon stock sustainable. Of the remaining 90% I will take my entire share of kings and silvers, I would like my reds smoked so I will take a 50% cut on my gross weight of them, chum and humpy I will donate to the local animal shelter.

    I don’t fish the cesspool that the Kenai has become, seriously the state is saying you should take a shower if you touch that water because of all the human and animal waste concentrated in the area and people are pulling food out of it.

  9. Wow! You poured your heart into your research! Thanks for sharing all your data. Maybe strong leaders will emerge and the industry will get the needed organization and help it needs!

  10. This summer Alaskans are learning first hand while the rest of the world began to switch from “Hunter-Gatherer” to Agriculture nearly 12,000 years ago…but like Rex Tillerson said “Alaska is it’s own worse enemy”.

    • Remember Steve, it’s fishing and not catching.
      We all have to cinch in our belts. Heheh! We only caught 19 sockeyes gillnetting and have had it pretty skinny halibut fishing till this last Sunday (61 inch butt @ Tracy Arm). I’ve learned how to release large halibut but this fish was destined for the freezer since I’ve had a tough time catching smaller ones. $350 in fuel but a nice trip and saw one brown bear and grey wolf walking the beach-great trip.

      • No Bill,
        It is called “food security” and just because a few retired guys with no schedule can still “power” out with their boats and find a fish does not make for a secure food network in Alaska.
        Recent studies show 1 out of every 5 families in Alaska will experience food “insecurity” this year.
        On the bigger picture Alaskans must switch to more farming and less “Hunter Gatherer” lifestyle.
        This is hard for the “economy” to adapt to since so much has been put into the selling of (licenses, boats, atv’s, guns, fishing tackle, processing of game, etc.)…
        I enjoy my time recreating in the woods and pulling fish out of the water or dragging a moose quarter to my truck, but as a “pragmatist” I must be honest that the situation looks grim for the future up here if we do not repair salmon habitat and limit the days that commercial fishing nets are in the water.

      • Well Steve, the POLs may buy into that food security thing but I’m not going to hold my breath waiting on any such thing. If you are inclined to such, just make sure you are employable so’s you can afford Safeway’s prices. And if you aren’t employed you should have plenty of time for finding that fish and/or game. Also don’t count out berries.

      • Bill,
        I am doing fine, since I can adapt and spend the time that I once spent fishing in my garden growing my own food but many residents without time, money or private land to grow on are not in as good of a position as we move forward. (Think high cost of food in Alaska)
        I am actually harvesting around a quart of strawberries a day for the family, along with peas, broccoli, cabbage, onions, kale, raspberries, radishes, lettuce, kohlrabi, and spices.
        Here is a passage that I found from my college GMC that a student Vanessa Skean (a former Alaskan that left our state) did for her graduate thesis in Vermont.

        “The only Arctic region in the US, Alaska has warmed twice as fast as the rest of the nation, causing receding sea ice, thawing permafrost and large-scale disruption of wildlife habitat. Vanessa is especially interested in the effects of climate change on the rural tribal culture, diet and food security.

        “Alaska only raises 5% of its own food. Everything else has to come long distances by barge or overland through Canada. If there’s an interruption in the supply chain, there is really no backup.”

        People living in rural villages depend on hunting, fishing and gathering medicinal plants.

        “Climate change is impacting the food they traditionally rely on. Importing of food from outside brings its own set of issues—foods that are not indigenous can lead to illness, disease and depression.”

      • Good for you, Steve. A garden is sure something for lots of Alaskans. SE is a lot tougher to garden than most places and for sure some Arctic folks are getting learned in plastic coverings for a lot of crops.
        We don’t agree on the bit about removing commercial nets but we do agree that this is Alaska and do have numerous ways to supplement our food bills, other than food stamps. Heheh!
        SE does have a lot of wild berries and Interior has most years pretty good berries, also. Highbush cranberries, cloudberries, blueberries and lots of rosehips. I’m a big blueberry pie maker/eater and am not seeing the usual berries in my yard here in Juneau. May have to travel for some.

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