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Personal-use dipnetters swarm the mouth of the Kenai River/Craig Medred photo

Before an audience heavy with those who make their living from the sea, commercial fishermen and their supporters paraded before the Alaska Board of Fisheries on Saturday to testify as to where they think personal-use dipnetters belong.

Last in line was the clear answer.

Testifying for the Native Village of Eyak, Cordova’s John Whissel might have summarized the thinking best when he observed that the personal-use fisheries “are to be implemented after sport, commercial and subsistence fisheries have met their needs.”

The comments came in response to a Kenai River Sportfishing Association (KRSA) proposal before the Board that would reshuffle salmon allocation priorities in the state’s few, non-subsistence fishing areas.

The proposal seeks to make the food security of 49th state residents the number one issue the Board should consider when deciding who gets which salmon and how many.

Whissel argued the proposal was a scheme to “set up a defacto priority,” giving personal-use fishermen in five “non-subsistence” areas much the same status as subsistence fishermen in most of the rest of the state. Subsistence is a “priority use” in about 80 percent of Alaska.

In the subsistence areas, the number one priority of the Board and fishery managers with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is to make sure subsistence demands are met.

Dipnetters once had a subsistence priority, but the Alaska Legislature in 1992 passed a law allowing the Boards of Fish and Game to establish non-subsistence areas. The state was at the time jockeying to find a way to bring state law into agreement with the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, which  created more than 100 million areas of new parks and refuges in Alaska and granted “rural residents” a subsistence priority on federal lands.

The state tried to follow suit with a rural priority, but the Alaska Supreme Court ruled that granting Alaskans special hunting and fishing privileges solely on the basis of where they live violated the Alaska Constitution.

As an alternative, the Legislature gave the joint Boards the authority to create non-subsistence areas where there was heavy competition between urban and rural residents for limited resources. The hope was that the feds would buy the plan as tantamount to a rural priority and drop a threat to take over management of fish and game on federal land in the state.

They didn’t. The U.S. government has been involved in managing fish and wildlife on more than 200 million acres of land within the state for almost two decades now.  The state was left in charge of about 150 million acres. The two bureaucracies engage in a constant, joint-management dance in dealing with salmon and other species that move across state-federal boundaries.

Through all this, most of the state’s fisheries have remained largely unchanged. The commercial fishing industry controlled them at statehood, after statehood and to this day.

Even when wildlife, for which there are no commercial harvests, are added to grow the size of the pie accounting for all fish and game harvested in Alaska, the state’s approximately 17,000 permit-holding commercial fishermen control more than 98 percent of the resource, according to a state analysis.

harvest

Fish wars

But in a state bigger than Texas yet home to less than a third of the people in Dallas alone, the competition between commercial and other fisheries becomes an issue only in the few areas where humans cluster.

Cook Inlet is the focal point. The fishery there is focused on sockeye salmon and there aren’t enough of them to support the commercial fishery let alone supply fish for sport and personal use fisheries.

The state issued 1,319 limited entry permits for the Inlet – 746 for the set gillnet fishery and 573 for the drift gillnet fishery. The 10-year average harvest in the fishery is 3.4 million sockeye.

More than twice as many permits – 1,040 set gillnet and 1,876 drift gillnet – were issued for Bristol Bay, but the bay’s annual salmon harvest is 44.4 million sockeye – 13 times more than that of the Inlet.

Were the catch in the Inlet distributed evenly, there would be 2,878 sockeye per permit. That’s less than a fifth of the 15,773 sockeye per permit in the Bay. Fishermen can make a living fishing the Bay. Fishermen are hobbyists in the Inlet, which only encourages them to put more pressure on the Board to give them more fish.

But even if the Board gave them all the fish – that annual and shrinking commercial catch plus about 400,000 sockeye from the sport catch and the personal-use catch with a 10-year average of about 370,000 per year – the average commercial harvest would increase to only 3,161 fish per permit – a fifth of the Bay harvest.

And yet the Board has for decades made commercial harvest in the Inlet a priority in order try to protect livelihoods that don’t exist. Combined, average gross earnings for the two fisheries over the past two decades are about $35,000 per year, according to data from the state’s Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission.

A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration study of Southeast Alaska fisheries concluded fishermen net about 65 percent of gross. At that net, an average commercial fishermen would be making about as much as a minimum-wage worker in the state.

Given the economics, the KRSA has proposed the board drop commercial fishing as the priority for Inlet harvests and give other uses, starting with food for Alaskans, more consideration.

Decision tree

“Here’s what Proposal #171 does,” KSRA’s Kevin Delaney told the board, “it creates a process by reordering and providing weight to the existing allocation criteria in a manner that provides a decision process for examining fishery allocation issues arising in the non-subsistence areas of the state.”

Basically, instead of personal-use and sportfishing getting the leftovers of what the commercial fishery doesn’t catch, the Board would try to set some standards for how many fish the personal-use and sport  fisheries need and manage the commercial fishery to let the appropriate numbers of salmon escape into Inlet rivers and streams.

“Here’s what Proposal #171 does not do,” Delaney added:

  • “It does not affect allocation decisions for areas of the state outside of the five non-subsistence areas.
  • “It does not create new criteria and it does not mandate an outcome.”

He admitted the plan would likely shift salmon from the commercial fishery toward fisheries in which more Alaskans participate and fisheries that maximize economic activity, but he added that “the Board would still be free to rationalize allocation decisions as they see appropriate when specific conditions warrant.”

If the Board still wants to prioritize the commercial fishery because of its historical status, he said, “this is still possible, it will just be transparently obvious that is the objective.”

Commercial fishermen stressed the historical aspect of their fisheries in their testimony. Those from Cordova were especially quick to point out the urban-rural distinctions.

Dipnetters, many of whom inhabit the urban sprawl of an Anchorage Metropolitan area now home to more than half the state’s population, are different from other Alaskans, Whissel said; they have access to “Costco.”

His comments reflected those of many testifying. They came on a day when Alaska’s rural-urban divide was vividly on display.

The handful of personal-use fisheries for which Alaska residents can obtain permits to dipnet 25 salmon plus 10 per every additional family were never intended to feed anyone, argued Chelsea Haisman, the executive director of the Cordova District Fishermen United.

The intent of personal-use fisheries, the third-generation commercial fishermen said, was for salmon to be “supplemental” to the diets of Alaskans if there were salmon surplus to commercial, subsistence and sport needs.

Personal-use harvest, she said, “should not affect any existing use.”

The only problem with that argument is that the commercial demand is unlimited, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, Casey Gaze, Kenai drift netter argued in a written comment to the Board.

“Priority should be given to the commercial fishermen so anyone can go to the store if they want salmon…,” he wrote.

If, of course, the Anchorage Costco is selling Alaska salmon and not farmed Atlantic salmon. 

CORRECTION: The original version of this story failed to include John Whissel’s association with the Native Village of Eyak, and Chelsea Haisman said salmon should be  “supplemental,” not a supplement.

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51 replies »

    • What would they do with them if that occurred? Are you somehow suggesting the remaining permit holders would quit when they got their fair share? Heheh!

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  1. Craig, if there was a formal recorded vote on the Board members, could you share with us how the individual members voted on this proposal? Thanks

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  2. Steve, I’m an omnivore and I’ll stay that way. But if you want to gift me any salmon or halibut you don’t want I’ll gladly accept them.

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  3. I am one of the Cook Inlet Commercial fishermen and my family depends upon commercial fishing as do many other families. I do realize that the river guides also depend on guiding to feed their families. A lot of factors put all of the user groups at each other’s throats. When there are few fish showing nobody wins. One thing is certain is that us commercial fishermen get the blame for everything. What I would like to see happen is programs to be implemented that address many of the problems that greatly affect our returns such as the pike infestation that is decimating the salmon population. I saw one video where a large pike was cut open and it had over 70 young salmon in it. Another problem is that many Cook Inlet fish are caught even before they enter Cook Inlet. Also what a lot of people don’t realize is the importance of a state to have commodities that they can export. Alaska is a state that imports most of what is used. Commercial salmon fishing benefits everyone in Alaska by giving the world a taste of the best salmon on the planet. It helps encourage tourism. Tourists want to eat salmon. Not chicken fingers imported to Alaska. Taxes are generated by commercial fishermen that go into the general fund to help Alaskans. When ships come to Alaska loaded down with goods from the lower 48 and the rest of the world, they don’t need to be sent back empty. Before any user group is cut out or limited, all other avenues need to be challenged.

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    • I truly believe the fish are a resource of Alaska, just as the oil. Alaskans should decide how they want their resources to be used. It shouldn’t be the discussion of a board that can be bribed.

      The board will always side with money. Which if they truly looked at money it will soon turn the priority to Sport fishing. If you study where the most income to the state comes from its tourism. Much of that tourism is sport fishing.

      That’s why Alaskans need a day in their resources. Alaskans have the right to decide which is more important, feeding the states population with fish, or providing jobs to tourism. Both have advantages and disadvantages. I believe it should be the majority of the people that decide which way it should go.

      I know commercial fishing is a way of life for many. I just don’t see the value to the state. Sadly it’s just like the oil. We give our natural resources away for other to profit from. The money is not spent in our state. The resources are then sold back to our state. Alaska produces a large amount of oil, yet many Alaskans can not afford to heat their homes with oil. Why is that? Oil should be cheap here. Yet it’s not. Fish should be cheap here, yet it’s not. If commercial fishing is the priority, then commercial fishers need to find away to make money as well as feed the population. There is a balance, however greed wins out over what is right every time.

      You show me a commercial fishery that feeds the elders in rural communities and I will start supporting them. But as long as the fish, the money, and the resources are all taken away from a state that desperately needs the resource I will never support that effort. Commercial fisheries need to have a relationship with the elders. Give back, help provide for them. Maybe then we can support all forms of fishing. But until the. The priority should always be the people of Alaska!

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      • Actually crude oil is cheap here, start. It’s the refining that’s expensive, similar to the processing of fish, so what is your point again?
        Cordova always had a program of giving CR reds to elders and I suspect that is still ongoing.

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  4. James Mykland. Most commercial fisherman are not aware of the 1986-89 Kenai River, and the 2017-18 Nushagak River ADFG study on catch and release mortality on sport caught Chinook salmon. The Kenai River averaged a 7.6% mortality (using bait and multiple hooks which is forbidden today). The Nushagak River averaged 6.35% mortality. Very low numbers. ADFG considers this when decisions are made to go to catch and release fishing. If you don’t believe me, feel free to research their findings on ADFG’s website. It’s all there to educate yourself.

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  5. For the commercial fishermen may I suggest #learntocode

    Regardless of the outcome of the issue Craig is reporting on, the times are changing and the days of commercial fishing in Alaska are on the wane.

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    • Casey, those dipnetted fish are worth @9 dollars a pound to me. That is what Fred Meyers sells at @ during the season. So each fish is about 40 bucks for a big hen or buck. Times that by 30 fish I usually net and it adds up. The commercial guys get roughly 1.60 a pound. They are worth well more to me than to them. But a lot of commercials want me to just buy it at a big mark-up.
      No thank you. I don’t mind dropping hundreds when I go dipping because I am still dollars ahead, never mind the satisfaction and fun I have getting my own.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s certainly one way of looking at sport or pu fish-my wife and I landed a 115 lb halibut last July and, looking at what that fish would cost retail, makes for some big bucks. And certainly there is the fun factor.
        I’ll almost apologize for keeping that fish but it was a poor year (until then) for us and we needed it for the freezer.

        Liked by 1 person

      • We’re in the same “boat” each fish is less money we spend on meat to feed ourselves and extended family.

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    • They are businessmen and it is their business. No different that say bar owners showing up for a law that affects them. It could very well mean money to them but it’s at least in their best interest to be involved.

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    • Hey Casey,
      Sports charter vessels and guides (that were mostly non-residents as majority of their out of state clients) killed off all the Kenai early big king hogs. They played them, until the fish had no strength, fish were released and sank to the bottom of river bed, then washed out to sea. Catch & Release should be renamed Catch & Kill! What a waste!
      Reason why they do not show up for meetings. They all winter in lower 48!
      This also pertains to the proposals concerning rock fish! I was crossing PWS, from Main Bay to Cordova, in 2012, came across all these “orange” rock fish floaters, eyes bulged and bladder/tongue out. I came up to a sport/charter vessel (ported out of Whittier), with 5 fishers on back deck pulling fish up and releasing them. I yelled at the Captain, he turned around and went into the wheelhouse. I reported it to the Cordova ADF&G sports fish biologists, he threw up his hands in despair. These dead rock fish could have lived and grown to 70-90 years old, and produced many offspring.
      Now, 7 years later, the PWS rock fish are gone, we finally do something about it. Make sense, close the barn door, after all the live stock have left. Thanks to the sporties!

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      • James. How is hook and release mortality any different from the many Chinook drop outs from gill nets that also go to the bottom. It would be fair to assess a mortality percentage to drop outs which would be charged to the commercial harvest as there is to angler hook and release mortality. Do you agree?

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      • James, it seems you have emotions on what you just posted. The problem is you are not backing up anything with facts. Anything posted by blaming a total certain group without facts, is just hyperbole. It’s like me saying all comfishers are from out of state and they decimate the runs. That’s the same thing like you posted.

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    • What is happening all over AK: Get your sports caught limit, then keep fishing, by going to C&R. Same with all fresh water king sports fishers, hook one up, play it until it is completely wiped out, then release it. How much strength does the fish have left? Will it make it to spawning grounds? No one can tell me the real mortality rate on C&R kings, plus I would increase it by 50%.
      Oh, but our wealthy lower 48 males, love to come to AK, party at a fishing lodge, eat and drink, spend copious amounts of money. That is a good trade off, Yes?
      No wonder the overall AK chinook harvest is declining across the state. Get a grip and get the facts!

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      • Hi James.

        So… YOU have the facts on catch and release fishing? Please share. As an avid ‘sporty’, I have caught the same trout in the same creek year after year. I have caught so many fish with hooks in them that I can’t even begin to estimate them. I have caught 100 year old sturgeon that have been caught and released over 20 times recorded by their microchip (and who knows how many times by people who didn’t check for the chip). While I believe that if you’re planning on releasing a fish you should use properly sized gear to quickly bring them in (and I know that not everybody does this), where is your evidence of a massive fish kill going on by us catch and release folks? While I believe your story with the rock fish (idiots – however, these are NOT catch and release fisherman – they’re just dumbasses who want a bigger rockfish for the freezer), I simply don’t believe that a king that is caught and released just sinks to the bottom and gets washed out to sea. I know that there is some death in catch and release fishing, however, I’m willing to bet all of my fishing rods that it’s less than the king bycatch from the commie set netters going for sockeye – would you be willing to bet your boat on that deal?…

        Also, I’m willing to bet that the money that those ‘wealthy lower 48 males’ spend up here brings more to our states economy than all of the com fishing does. THAT’S the science I want to see and I just don’t know why those numbers aren’t being published anywhere. Wake up – the fact is that tourism is our 2nd largest economic driver and I see a day coming soon when it’s our number 1 source of state revenue. If only shortsighted folks in Juneau could figure out how to better monetize these visitors… Until then, these wealthy lower 48 males are a great way for small businesses to thrive.

        Cheers sir!

        I’ll be waiting for your facts on fish kill…

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      • Jack, I don’t believe anyone has “facts” on things like catch and release and drop-outs. They tend to be educated guesses based on the individual’s experience. My own is that you cannot compare C&R of trout (or salmon at sea) with C&R of king salmon when spawning-further complicating the thing is whether/not said fish is held up for photos before the release. And, I suspect, mortality would decrease if line was simply cut rather than bringing in fish to subject it to more stress removing the hook (but that doesn’t allow for photos). My reasoning is that these spawning fish are already subjected to enough stress without adding to it.
        Perhaps barbless hooks could decrease mortality but I don’t think it would get much support.

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      • Bill: i don’t know if you are aware, but the removal of Kenai Chinook from the water is already prohibited, and many – if not most – anglers now cut the line.

        and much is known about the mortality of fish that escape capture or are released. the Canadians did a pretty good meta-analysis in 2017. what they found was that calculating this mortality is difficult because there are a lot of variables to the equation which vary fishery to fishery.

        for example, salmon in the ocean and intertidal areas are much more vulnerable to hooking mortality than spawning salmon that have transitioned to freshwater. those fish appear damn near bullet proof, which might explain the decades of good returns on the Russian River despite the number of fish on the spawning grounds with so many of the flies of fishermen embedded in their flesh that they look like Christmas trees.

        meanwhile, i’ll link the latest dropout study. the issue there, from other studies, appears to be not so much how many fish dropout or even the size of their injuries, but whether they become infected by fungus. https://besjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1365-2664.2009.01673.x

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      • Craig, the Kenai is special of course but there is C&R on many other rivers where such a rule would be difficult to enforce IMO. Also, there are studies showing that circle hooks reduce mortality rates (one is for striped bass) -we may learn a lot more about this subject as it’s becoming a larger issue due to reduced numbers of king salmon in so many rivers.

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      • Hey Jack,
        I thought KRSA’s proposal #171, is all about giving preference to AK pu fishers in non-subsistence areas.
        It seems that you are advocating out of state anglers, the right to take AK resources away from AK resident commercial fishers? For the sake of tourism dollars?
        Did I get that correct?
        A wealthy non-resident has more right to AK precious resources, than residents? For the sake of tourism dollars? Is that what you are going with?

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    • Hey Craig,
      Yes, finally it is illegal to bring a chinook to the surface for the sport C&R, though once again, a little too late and not enough enforcement. They instituted C&R only on the Kenai in 2018, when the Department figured out they were behind the escapement curve. My view, they should have shut it down completely. Even a 7-10% mortality, is not acceptable. The big fish of 40-58” or four more, should not even be played. We have no idea what muscle mass is lost, to these big hogs.
      Another commenter mentioned about the dropouts from gill nets, my take is that at least we are not playing them, and usually they just swim away.
      I still say C&R should be renamed Catch & Kill!

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  6. Finally, I agree with you, about the BOF process and that all comments and interests, from all user groups, should be given their due, during the deliberations of the BOF.
    That being said, I do believe all proposals have been given due diligence at BOF meetings, at least at the numerous ones, I have attended or listened to, since ‘82.
    The main point I was alluding to, was that I find it very interesting, that with such an important mtg., more pu fishers could not show up and give their testimony in person.
    On another note:
    I am not so concerned with which state residents are appointed to the BOF, as long as they are able to leave their personal agendas behind and deal with the facts of each proposal. Our new Gov has the choice to appoint two new BOF members this year, 3 next year and 2 the third year. If his intention is to completely replace the current BOF, he will have the opportunity to do just that. I will wait and see what transpires.

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  7. Excuse me, shouted down? I have been to many BOF and AC meetings, where everyone has the opportunity to speak their mind, without being “shouted down”.
    Stakeholders from all user groups, are allowed 3 minutes to testify, with no interruptions, at all BOF meetings, AC reps get 10.
    You state common Alaskan does not have the time to attend? On a weekend, and in Anchorage? Give me a break! Here is an important statewide BOF mtg., that had been scheduled and published for months, and only a few pu fishers show up to give their public comments. What am I missing here?
    How many residents live in Anchorage, Eagle River, Mat-Su area? Over 50% of state population? And only a handful show up on a Saturday?
    Okay, Mike is going to fix it all. I will wait and see who he appoints this spring/summer. He currently has his hands full, on how to keep our state solvent.

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    • You make some legitimate points James. No one is shouted down at BOF meetings. You are correct. And yes, PU fishers could show up at these meetings. But just because they do not does not mean that their interests should be ignored. The BOF should always consider the interests of all users when making allocation decisions. It should never be a process where the user group that has the most members at the meeting is the winner. It seems to me, unfortunately, that is what generally occurs, however.
      Some believe that Walker stacked the deck in favor of the commercial sector because of its broad financial support of his campaign. After all, he did appoint former commercial fisherman Cotten, whose family had and still has significant current commercial ties ( Clem Tillion for example), to be Commissioner. And looking at the make up of the BOF stemming from his appointments some could conclude Walker wanted results from both in season management and in policy decisions (BOF makeup) that favored the commercial sector.
      It will be interesting to see where this process heads in the next four years.

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  8. With more than 200 public written comments in support of proposal 171, it is a bit of a stretch to say the public did not voice support for it.

    Of course only commercial fishermen showed up to a process that caters primarily to commercial fishermen.

    Duh.

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  9. As a sport, commercial, and personal use fisherman, and with enough fisheries credits I could have easily gained a minor, this whole mess is of great interest to me as I watch it play out. From my youth I grew up so fanatical a sport fishermen, fly tying, rod building, and all, I was called, “Fishing Rod.” For years I “strained water and strangled salmon” as a Bristol Bay drift permit holder, and fear for my Inlet commercial fishing friends like Dean Osmar who DO make their living at it. I was in on the very pioneering of the Inlet dipnet fishery. In fact, it was the creative nets my brother and I conceived that caused Fur, Fin & Feathers to tighten up their specs defining a legal dip net. And it was my testimony before the state Republican Convention in 1988 that started the ball rolling that eventually brought about the state law prohibiting salmon farming. So I have a lot of pulls different ways.

    One strong opinion of mine is that the 25-and-10 limit is too liberal. Especially if the fish are those big Kenai slabs, a family has to really work at it to eat that many before they freezer burn. Not saying some can’t or don’t, but just sayin…

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    • Roland Maw was strongly on board with that reduction in 25 fish limit, too.
      Nothing wrong with sharing with family and friends but likely some will be wasted. Just as some is wasted in the filleting process (some are not as good as others), but hardly worth worrying about IMO. I’ve watched some butcher those fish and it’s hard to watch but those folks are a minority just as those who allow freezer burn IMO.

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    • Gotta luv the commercial fishing privilege on display telling other Alaskans how many fish are appropriate to eat.

      Rich.

      Come down to the Kenai beaches and tell that to a wide diversity of families who can’t affairs a Costco membership, who only get to eat Costco sized portions of salmon through the year because of the personal use fisheries.

      Such arrogance is to be expected from anyone connected to commercial fishing on Alaska.

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      • My opinion is that you have misrepresented Rod voicing his opinion as arrogance-namely because you’ve accused him of saying something he did not say.
        And, since I also disagree with his opinion here, I’ll even go further and suggest that it is you who shows arrogance. Rod didn’t say a thing about “how many fish are appropriate to eat,” so all you’ve done is create a “strawman” so’s you can tear it down.
        Your post is complete BS, IMO.

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    • Hey Rod. Was reading your comment wondering who was this guy – then went back and saw your name.
      The 25 and 10 limit might be a little too many, but I have never gotten my limit even in good years, and I would guess that not that many people do in the CI dipnet fishery (although there are some people that abuse it). I either can (mostly) or smoke all my dipnet fish – never have to worry about freezer burn, and I eat a lot more canned fish because I don’t have to think about taking it out of the freezer in advance. If I have a really good year, I don’t have to dipnet the next one – frankly, it is so crowded that I hate to do it, especially since doing so at night is no longer allowed. And some years I could catch more fish per hour sportfishing up in the river. Rod and reel provides enough fresh fish during the year for me.
      I have many friends that have commercial fished CI for years. I want them to be successful and be able to earn a living, but I think that the industry needs to consolidate. It is highly inefficient to have so many people fishing for so few fish, even if they had a priority (a terminal fishery like fish traps near the mouths would be the most efficient – and they could release the large kings for an extra benefit). They consolidated the Bering Sea crab fishery – they should consider doing the same thing to the CI drift and set net fishery. This would probably be a good idea even if there is no change in priorities.
      I have a friend whose family owned one of the highest producing fish traps in CI before statehood. They didn’t even get a set net permit when the state cancelled their right to operate a fish trap. Sometimes life isn’t fair, and when you are making a living from a resource owned by the citizens of the state, you can expect little job security.
      Also, I would point out that the commercial guys get first crack at the fish while still in the mid-Inlet. If it is a bad year, and there are in run restrictions, the commercial guys will have been fishing for about half the season before the managers even know what the run strength is, then both the commercial and personal use fisheries are simultaneously restricted before many fish have been dipnetted. As a result, the commercials get a practical priority even if they don’t get a technical one.

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      • Rob, the family that didn’t get a setnet permit (even though they had operated a fishtrap earlier) did not get a permit because they did not participate in that fishery (setnet) during the required years (main reason). There was no limited entry program at the time that fishtraps were outlawed.
        It was a point system and easiest way to qualify was by participating in that particular setnet fishery-one also got points for other attributes. A few folks, that had participated not all those years, did get limited permits while they attempted to get their points through the courts. Those limited permits were non-transferable, but could still fish, while their attempted qualifying took place. Not sure, but I believe that there are few of those limited permits still without a determination.

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      • Nice comment, Rob! It was like you were telling me a story about…. ME! We definitely share many thoughts on this subject and dipnetting practices.
        Cheers Sir!

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  10. I’m not pretty sure, I’m positive, this will come up again in the regional meeting. I am also positive there will be a shift coming in the near future. Out last Governor all but tripped over himself appeasing commercial fishermen and to collect the bounty in campaign donations. I do believe change is on the way with a different mindset in the Governors seat.
    We used to hand churn butter 40 years ago but times change. Why should a part time hobby here in Cook Inlet, which it has turned into financially, unfortunately, dictate to the Majority of the state population? Upper Cook Inlet is the Bread basket of the state due to the road system and accessibility. Hell, people from Nome and Bethel come down to participate. As Craig mentions, the meeting was packed and stacked with Commercial interests, as it always seems to be. It seems the only time the masses concerns itself is when the fishing/dipping season is upon us. Then they are too busy trying to fill their freezers to worry about it. You would think with the outcome of last years run and dipping numbers that it would motivate people to come forward and participate in these meetings. NOT!
    A microcosm I noticed is, I was at the Anchorage Advisory committee meeting last year on election night. A man that is involved with the fisheries and was even an ex Board of fish member and an ex AC member, who was sitting next to me, mentioned that he had never seen so many commercial guys come out and seek a chair on the AC. These guys know which end of their bread is buttered.
    It’s a shame that sports/dippers are not as proactive. Being a long time advocate for dipnetting, I heard from so many dippers at the end of last season about what a lousy season they had filling their freezers. I don’t know what else to say to them except,” Well, next time maybe you should show up at a BOF meeting”.

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    • The easiest thing to do is adapt a “plant based” diet (which is way more healthy) and walk away from the “contaminated” mess the fishing has become in Alaska.
      With the state of Alaska acting as a commercial lending bank to the hatcheries, fishermen and charter industries, there will be little to no changes in the established fish ranching regime in AK.

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      • Hey Steve,
        You must be a nutritionist or a gastroenterologist…. right? I mean to make such a cut and dry statement like that.
        As someone who is really into eating healthy foods (and occasionally, some not so healthy food), and who visits nutritionists and a gastroenterologist, I can tell you that the science on your claim of plant based diets being ‘way more healthy’ is highly debatable. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that people should be eating red meat and pork daily, however, there’s a huge difference nutritionally between being vegetarian or vegan and being someone who eats mostly plants and supplements their diet with protein dense foods such as salmon, eggs and poultry… I also feel that protein dense wild meats are awesome for most people – caribou and moose are AMAZING high protein / low fat meats – I just choose to not include red meat in my personal diet.
        I guess what I’m trying to say is your statement is more politically based than scientifically based… because the science on this subject is very mixed.
        Cheers friend!

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      • Jack,
        Most evidence leaning towards the “plant based” diets comes from cardiologists.
        Vegan or Vegetarian does not indicate a “healthy” diet per say since many in these categories still eat white flour, sugar and refined foods.
        Sticking to fruits, veggies, nuts and legumes for the “majority” of your meals provides an alkaline food source and less acidic conditions in the body (including vascular tract).
        This does not mean you cannot have an occasional piece of fish or chicken, it just means your diet is mostly based on living foods (plants) as opposed to dead meat.
        I have eaten both sides of the spectrum from SAD to raw foods and feel the least cooked and prepared our food is, the greater energy transfer to human cells.
        (remember our 100 trillion cells all have an electrical charge)
        Let’s not forget how large the Moose can grow on willows and leaves.
        Most Grizzlies live on a diet of 75 percent “grass”.

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      • It’s only anecdotal, but the Delawares and close relatives the Mohegans were once–when they were primarily hunters–the dominant Natives of the Eastern U.S. Then, say their elders, the rival Iroquois tricked them into taking on a “woman’s role” as a peacekeeping strategy. That required they give up hunting and switch to eating mostly squash, corn, and other veggies. That–again, so say their elders–caused them to lose vitality and they never regained it. My friend Emerson, a Mohegan, says that contention has been passed down through the generations and is held to this day. Interesting.

        Steward Anderson, once speaking of how time must drag for some bored folk, said, “Vegetarians say they live longer. I’ve never seen any concrete scientific evidence to support that. (To them, it must just seem like it.)”

        If vegans can convert the world, this whole fish war thing will be moot. With nothing to cut off escapement, those other upstream fishers will gain a chance to even out that skewed 75-25 ratio.

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      • Rod,
        Like I pointed out to Jack…
        Plant based is different from Vegan or Vegetarian.
        My experience in EMS taught me that cardiac disease is the fastest way to loose your Vitality.
        “the state of being strong and active”
        As for what those early natives were farming, today the global supply chain puts a huge variety of vitamin and mineral rich fruits and vegetables at our supermarket.
        These fruits are rich in enzymes that clean our cells and rejuvenate tissue.
        Many cardiologists believe proteins digest as acids and can lead to coronary artery blockage.
        Cholesterol is the body’s response to acids.
        So without going on and on, I will say that I have more time to be active outside and working in the summer garden.
        I particularly enjoy mountain biking in the fall with my son as opposed to sitting under a tree hunting on a sunny day.
        I may eat meat again, but with the benifits that I have seen, I believe a plant based diet can give you all the nutrients you need for a healthy life.
        Some benifits include:
        “Maintaining a stable body weight
        Helping a strong immune system
        Improving digestion
        Boosting energy levels
        Preventing the build up of toxins in the body
        Improving heart health”
        The good thing about diets is they allow us to change, something that is hard to accomplish in this busy society.
        Have a good day!

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  11. Pretty sure that this matter will come up again in a regional BOF meeting. One of the problems is that the PU and sports fishers are not organized nor does any individual have enough of a stake in the out come to justify spending the dollars necessary to attend BOF meetings. On the other hand commercial users are all organized and have executive Directors to advocate for them. And since they do make money from the fisheries, ( a lot in some cases), they can afford to attend the meetings. This “apparent” overwhelming public support for commercial interests makes it easy for the BOF to vote their way.
    But change may be on the way. The new administration has already picked a Dept Commissioner that does NOT come from the commercial sector. And the Gov will have at least five new picks for BOF members within the next two legislative sessions. Perhaps then, this imbalance in allocation of the resource will be corrected.

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    • I think that you’re correct, Finally. The common Alaskan does not have the time to attend these meetings and get shouted down. It’s up to us to pester our elected officials to make these changes and not let them become beholden to the commercial fishing (and all other) industry bribing… I mean lobbying!
      Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Commfish is using the same technique the unions are using to fight the Dunleavy budget – pack the meetings, dominate the comments, be first in line to sign up for a limited number of public comments, spend time in Juneau demanding a priority for salmon. It is called flooding the zone and it all works to give the politicians and political appointees the notion that the only people who care are those in their face raising Hell.

        Cathy Giessel was on Stieren last week talking budget. Stieren asked her how many people who went to Juneau were in support of Dunleavy’s budget. She couldn’t remember a single person testifying in support of it.

        Solution is still fish farming for salmon and halibut in this state. Somewhere along the line you have to start getting commercial nets out of the water and allow more fish to hit the fresh water. I don’t care that commfish makes money. I care a lot that they get priority – actual and perceived – to what is a shared resource. And the “buy it at Costco”, the modern day equivalent of “let them eat cake” isn’t going to hack it any more. There is a way out of this, a relatively straight forward way out. But we all have to want to go there. Cheers –

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      • agimark, your comment about how many went to Juneau to testify is not very informative as it stands. Most testimony before committees also take phone calls from all over Alaska.
        I believe that few are on board with Dunleavy’s proposed budget-that’s why there are few testifying in favor IMO.

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    • Executive Directors? KRSA has an executive director who advocates for the guides/sporties. Matter of fact, they just hired a new one. Its not just comm fish who has upper management. And, I’ve never understood the allocation issue. 2.0 million fish up the Kenai last summer and it wasn’t enough? Remember, its called “fishing” not “catching”. If you can’t harvest a decent number of those with rod/reel or dip net, maybe its time for those folks to pick up another hobby…..

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      • whoa? there were a million of those “cloaked” sockeye that sneaked past the sonar? if only those damn Romulans hadn’t shared that technology with half of fish world!

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