Walker talks fish

walker talks fish

Gov. Bill Walker addressing commercial fishermen in Kenai.

With many in the Alaska fishing community asking what transpired when Gov. Bill Walker and Commissioner of Fish and Game Sam Cotten met with commercial fishermen in Kenai on Friday, a video of the lengthy meeting is being posted by on YouTube.

It can be viewed by clicking here.

The video was first streamed live on Facebook by Sarah Vance, a Republican candidate for the State House from Homer. The meeting with the governor was hosted by the Kenai Peninsula Fishermen’s Association (KPFA) in the offices of the Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association.

KPFA is a commercial fishing advocacy group that formed in 1954.

Commercial fishermen are angry about the closure of fishing in Cook Inlet because of an abysmally weak run of sockeye salmon to the Kenai River. As of today, only 420,000 of the fish have returned with the run more than half over.

The in-river goal is 900,000. Last year at this time, the fish were returning at the rate of 20,000 to 70,000 per day even though commercial fishermen were catching tens of thousands per day in the Inlet.

Commercial fishermen have now been shut down for a week, and despite the closure, the Sunday return was only 12,000 sockeye, but it was better than Saturday when the return was 9,000.

State fisheries managers say the commercial shutdown is vital to protect the Kenai run. Cotten told commercial fishermen the closure is about conservation, not politics. He was shouted down for failing to also close a personal-use dipnet fishery at the same time. (1:00:30).

The dipnet fishery, which in good years provides food for the freezers of about 30,000 Alaska permit holders, is a density-dependent fishery. Catch-rates are low at entry levels of 30,000 fish and under. The fishery harvested fewer than 300,000 fish last year. 

The catch this year is expected to be a fraction of that. The commercial fishery had harvested 678,000 sockeye prior to the closure. 



12 replies »

  1. “The (dipnet) catch is expected to be much lower this year.”
    We will never know how many fish the dipnet fleet took this year because Adfg extrapolates a number every year based on the small number of permits that report their catch.
    It is time for mandatory and timely reporting from this ever growing user group.

    • except the user group isn’t growing, Omar. permit numbers have fallen every year since 2014:

      and the number of fishermen, judging by the lack of lines and easy parking in the north beach parking lot for most of this season, is likely to be way lower than the number of permits. i’d expect the City of Kenai’s profit on the city’s only profitable public service will be down significantly.

      timely and better reporting would be a good thing, but the reality is the fishery is so inefficient its not worth the cost of AWT enforcement. an entire season’s catch is a couple of good periods in the commercial fishery. AWT and the City really need to get together and figure out a way deputize some lower-paid rent a cops to do some budget-minded policing on the beach from July 10-31.

      they don’t a whole lot of training or firearms. the biggest problem seems to be with people failing to record catches in a timely manner and/or not knowing what they caught. maybe they’re waiting for someone to tell them what they caught before they fill out the report card?

  2. Trash pinks? That made my laugh. But not as much as, “Any fisher with a brain cell could do it.” If that isn’t speaking from the couch, nothing ever will be.

    • Monk , I’m glad I provide you humor! Let’s see – when I was fishing pinks they were worth a couple cents a pound- reds were about a dollar that’s aprx 40 to one . You tell me what’s more valuable? Kings were worth about 2.50$ Per pound let’s see that’s aprx 100 to 1 . Neither the reds nor the kings cost government anything for hatchery in my areas . ( three different fishing grounds ) Where as the pinks were in hatchery Mecca ,prince William sound . Even biologists will tell you pinks have offensive odor . You do the math from your couch and laugh about that ! Sure pinks may cost more now . I haven’t checked . I don’t fish for them . If I catch one I will happily give it to you ! I have some friends who will also give you some pinks!

    • Monk – it Might have been around 10 cents or less a pound for pinks can’t remember. While back . Seemed like 2-3 but 10 more likely. Anyway it was a fraction of what is paid for reds And kings . Close enough. Long ago .

  3. Both the crybaby entitlement dippers and the commercial guys should place blame where it belongs … on the PWS hatcheries that pump billions of invasive pink salmon into the Gulf of Alaska. The injected biomass of hatchery humpies adversely affects the other species of salmon. Shut down PWS hatcheries for 5-10 years and see if sockeye and king returns rebound.

    • James I like your thinking. Only invested fools turn voracious trash pinks loose to eat valuable ocean creatures- upsetting the balance. There is also a high probability foreign illegal fishing vessels are targeting certain groups of high dollar salmon. Coast guard just turned an illegal Chinese fishing vessel over to Chinese authority. Captured very close to Alaskan waters it Was Useing 5 mile long nets . Had over 40 tons of almost solely chum so it was obviously specifically targeted. Wasn’t first time . Are the copper river salmon and Yukon kings already in Chinese freezers ? I bet this happens a lot undetected. It would sure make careful management very hard . Totally screw up careful Biolgists study and plans . Financially for certain countries it would make sense to map out schooling and salmon feeding grounds . Then capture the the fish before entering Alaska bays . Any fisher with a brain cell could do it . I bet Chinese are laughing very hard at us for fighting over the left overs. IMO

      • The Chinese fishing vessel captured by the U.S. Coast Guard was near Japan. Japan produces over twice as many Chum salmon as Alaska. It stands to reason that those were likely Japanese fish. I’m sure many Alaskan fish are illegally caught on the high seas but in this case you are dead wrong about the facts.

      • “There is also a high probability foreign illegal fishing vessels are targeting certain groups of high dollar salmon.”
        So one ship being caught equates to your “high probability” Rayme. My own thinking here, if your assumption were to hold water, would be that these fishers (with a single brain cell) would be targeting Bristol Bay sockeyes. Have you seen the numbers for the total run for BB this year so far? We did have high seas fishers before the 200 mile limit that targeted sockeyes and they no doubt had mapped out those BB schools on the high seas. Anyway, its fairly obvious that these single brain cell fishers aren’t targeting the high dollar salmon but that may be just because the risk is too high.
        This boat you refer to is the first caught since 2014 so what is it that makes you think there is a “high probability” that this is being done?

      • Todd . Why don’t you post a map of how close to Alaska that boat was and where proof of the waters they fished . Also where Alaska salmon feed . If you knew anything about salmon you would see that it’s possible those were Alaska fish . In global type distances japan is close to Alaska . Bottom line it was technically illegal fishing of salmon . Where they came from I can’t say as dna test would be needed . So you are the one who is mistaken. Now as to mr Yankee . I’m sure you are more informed than I . Please fill us in on any information you have . I’m interested. Yes I agree not many ships have been known to be captured. I didn’t do a close study . I’m sure you have good numbers. I do know it’s a worldwide problem from whales to salmon. In my opinion it’s a fallacy of logic to say if only one or two were caught that means there are hardly any . Perhaps the net or method needs changed to catch these boats ? It’s akin to saying we only caught one fish there Must not be any others. It’s an awful big ocean . Could they fish at night ? Lights off ? Out of a shipping lane and reduce the odds ? You have fished a lot . Could a criminal fishing network get away with it if it had a little support from a rogue nation? Very possibly. Chinese sure love seafood they need money and don’t care about pushing envelope on laws . Just a thought Yankee – as I trust our biologists more than the Chinese desire for money. IMO .By the way I agree on your Bristol bay comment as to brain cell . Let’s get back to medred s base article before we get lost in weeds .

      • Also keep in mind I wasn’t grinding an ax on this . I was thinking a multi pronged solution is needed. To save Alaska salmon. Pinks are an issue, ocean conditions may be an issue, user groups are an issue, possible that pirated salmon are messing with equation . In my opinion all concerns need brought to states table to find viable solutions. As pointing fingers , shorting certain users and scapegoating certain users does not appear to be a viable long term solution . Families need food , fishermen need fish to make money for food , buisness needs sport fishermen. Everyone is needed . So I say we need a scientific solution and to avoid demonizing very important fishermen- Any of them . In my opinion.

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