The 1.5 percent

ucida walker

Former Gov. Bill Walker, second from left, chumming it up with some of the 1.5 percent/Facebook

News analysis

Conservative blogger and self-proclaimed “data dink” Alex Gimarc has crunched the numbers on who goes fishing in Alaska and the most interesting finding is, as the writer Arthur Conan Doyle once observed, the dog that doesn’t bark. 

Gimarc admits his interest in the numbers is largely political. As he points out, a whole bunch of Anchorage area legislators do a lousy job of representing their constituents on state fishery issues.

Many of them happen to be liberal Democrats, although Gimarc is not shy about calling out fellow conservatives Sen. Cathy Geissel, R-Anchorage, and Rep. Chuck Kopp of R-Anchorage. In a column at Alaska Politics & Elections, he describes Kopp as “a commercial fisherman who is using his position as a legislator to prop up his commercial fishing business.”

At least Kopp has a legitimate reason for siding with commercial interests in the never-ending fish wars between what Gimarc found to be the 1.5 percent of Alaskans who hold commercial permits and the 20 percent who purchase sport fishing licenses.

Why other Anchorage lawmakers representing districts heavy on anglers and dipnetters tacitly, sometimes actively side with the 1.5 percent is unclear.

Gimarc notes that in the district of Rep. Ivy Sponholz – who last year dropped a wholly unsubstantiated #metoo accusation on retired Judge Karl Johnstone to kill his reappointment to the state Board of Fisheries – the Alaskans holding sport-fishing licenses outnumber those holding commercial licenses by 90 to 1 and dipnetters outnumber commercial fishermen 22 to 1.

The only valid and substantiated charge raised against Johnston during his confirmation hearings was that he favored transitioning state fisheries management away from commercial fisheries and toward sport and dipnet fisheries in areas where the latter provided a greater economic benefit to the state.

This website invested a lot of time chasing the Sponholz #metoo accusation on which she refused to comment. Many of the women who had worked in or around Johnston during his previous service on the Board were contacted. All but one said they’d never had an issue with Johnstone nor ever seen any indication of any objectionable behavior related to sex or gender.

The exception was a former state employee with some involvement in Democrat politics who simply refused to talk. She said she just didn’t want to be involved. Former co-worker were of the opinion the response had nothing to do with sexual/gender issues but with politics.

Commercial fishermen had vowed to block Johnstone’s reappointment to the Board, and a whole bunch of Democrats piled on to help them do that. Some observers in Juneau credited the power of the commercial fishing lobby. Others said the Democrats just wanted to stick a fork in the eye of newly elected Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy.

Alaskans may never know what was going on. Maybe some Democrat lawmakers just have it out for anglers and dipnetters, and if so there is nothing wrong with that because the bulk of their constituents fit in neither of these groups.

That silent dog

And therein is the most interesting aspect to emerge from computer programmer Gimarc’s number crunching using state voter rolls and databases for commercial permit holders, sportfish license holders and dipnet permit holders.

What he found is that 80 percent of Alaskans don’t fish. These people comprise Alaska’s great, silent majority on the issue, which is not to say the issue doesn’t affect them because it does.

Fish are an integral part of the economy and have been for a long time. During territorial days, taxes on fish covered 80 percent of the cost of the territorial government. Fish were the equivalent of oil in Alaska today, and Alaskans watched most of the wealth derived from the resource flow south to Seattle. They fretted they were getting ripped off.

“Thus an increasingly pitched political battle raged for 50 years between residents and non-residents, between labor and capital, and between local fishermen and distant federal bureaucrats,” Steve Colt of the University of Anchorage’s Institute of Social and Economic Research wrote in a history.

Fish traps, largely owned by nonresident corporations, became the focal point for the battle.

“Opposition to the hated fish trap provided the political fuel for the statehood movement, and the new State of Alaska banned the trap as part of its constitution,” Colt writes. The ban was wishfully expected to end a decline in salmon production then underway. It didn’t.

Salmon runs continued to decline. Fishermen who’d thought their problems over with the end of traps found themselves unable to catch enough fish to make a living.  An early effort to limit competition in the fishery was ruled constitutionally illegal in the state.

Finally, in 1972, commercial fishermen convinced voters to approve a constitutional amendment legalizing what the state calls “limited entry.” The limited entry law capped the number of commercial fishermen allowed to work in the state, handed free and transferable permits to most of the established fishermen, and they took over the economic position once occupied by the trap owners.

Since then, the permit holders – some of whom arrived late to the party after paying an original permit holder hundreds of thousands of dollars to transfer a permit –  have largely dictated fisheries policy to the state in much the way the fish-trap owners dictated fishery policy to the federal officials with oversight in territorial days.

Now down to 1.5 percent of Alaskans, they continue to largely dictate state fishery policy.

help blurb

Invisible masses

Overlooked are the majority of Alaskans who benefit from one thing and one thing only when it comes to fisheries: a robust state economy.

The Board of Fish has largely turned its back on its responsibility to manage for them as outlined in the state Constitution which very specifically says “the legislature (which in this case delegated fisheries responsibility to the Board) 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.”

Not for the maximum benefit of the 1.5 percent. Not for the maximum benefit of the 3 percent that Gimarc found holding dipnet permits. Not for the maximum benefit of the 20 percent with sportfish licenses.

But for the “maximum benefit of its people,” meaning all of its people.

Despite a 2007 Alaska Department of Fish and Game study showing sport fisheries supported a $1.4 billion statewide industry worth about$733 million to the Cook Inlet area economy alone, a study followed by a 2017 Matanuska Susitna Borough examination putting the Inlet value at $716 million despite declining sport harvests, few efforts have ever made to shift catch from the commercial to sport fishery to take advantage of the higher-value per fish and the potential for economic growth.

By way of comparison, the commercial catch in Cook Inlet in 2019 was worth approximately $21.6 million  – $18 million in upper Cook Inlet and $3.6 million in lower Cook Inlet.   Given a total catch of about 4.5 million fish, that reflects an average, per fish value of about $4.80 per salmon.

Broad comparisons of the economic value of commercial and sport fisheries are difficult to make. Small comparisons are much easier. So consider this:

An Anchorage area driver at the wheel of the average American motor vehicle, which now gets about 25 miles to the gallon, spent somewhere around $25.20 on gas alone to make the 210-mile roundtrip drive from the city to the Russian River, one of the Kenai’s more popular fishing spots, for the opportunity to catch a limit of three salmon last year.

If she was lucky or skillful and caught her limit, the salmon would have started with a per fish cost to her of $8.40 for the gasoline alone. That $8.40 is the bare minimum of cash she injected into the economy to obtain that fish. If she bought fishing supplies in the city before she left, food in Cooper Landing while on the Kenai, and caught less than her limit – a regular occurrence – the per fish expenditure rapidly escalates.

If she flew to Anchorage from California, rented a car, booked a room somewhere, bought most of the gear with which to fish, had the few salmon she caught boxed and packed in ice to be flown back to California, well, suffice to say she would likely have spent enough money to buy a dozen or more Alaska salmon at her local supermarket with most of the value flowing somewhere other than the 49th state.

“There seems to be a misconception within our state that commercial fishing is business and sportfishing is just for fun,” a group of Mat-Su and Kenai business owners were moved to write in a recent op-ed in the Anchorage newspaper. “(But) the dollars, euros and yen spent by those smiling grandparents, laughing kids and excited visitors supports a mind-boggling variety of businesses, from outfitters in their hometowns to gas stations and restaurants along the way to all the many businesses near the rivers and campsites.”

Unfortunately, when Mat-Su businessmen trooped before the Fish Board to make this very argument in 2017, the Board’s response was to reduce the number of salmon getting into Mat-Su and other Cook Inlet streams in order to increase the commercial harvest in the Inlet.

“(These changes) will allocate some more fish to the commercial fishermen who, in my opinion, gave them up,” said then Board chairman John Jenson, a commercial fisherman from Petersburg.

The fish had been “given up,” as Jensen put it, when Johnstone chaired the Board. The Board under Johnstone’s leadership shifted allocation slightly toward anglers and dipnetters. It was a largely historic first, and it cost Johnstone his seat.

Playing politics

Independent Gov. Bill Walker, a one-time Republican who credited Democrat commercial fishermen from the Kenai Peninsula with helping him unseat incumbent Republican Gov. Sean Parnell, ousted Johnstone and replaced him with Roland Maw, the director of the Kenai-based United Cook Inlet Drifter’s Association (UCIDA) – the most powerful commercial fishing lobby in the region.

Maw claimed to have resigned that position, but whether he had or hadn’t was hard to tell. He also claimed to have discovered an endangered species (he didn’t) and to be an Alaskan while also claiming to a Montanan, a claim that got him in trouble in both states.

Montana convicted him of illegally claiming residency in order to obtain resident hunting licenses. The state of Alaska is still pursuing him on charges of illegally claiming to be an Alaskan in order to collect thousands of dollars in Permanent Fund Dividends only available to state residents.

Maw resigned from the Board before news of his legal problems leaked out and then tried to pretend they didn’t exist, a charade that didn’t last long. And yet, despite all of this, Maw was soon back into the thick of things at UCIDA, including meeting privately with Walker and other UCIDA members to discuss how to increase commercial salmon harvests in the Inlet.

Jensen clearly and quickly got the message as to how the ducks lined up behind the new governor. A vote to shift some allocation away from commercial fishing interests under Johnstone’s leadership, he became a vote to shift allocation back to commercial fishing interests when he replaced Johnstone as chair.

Job security

Jensen remains a member of the Board.

It met earlier this week in Kodiak where it voted to restrict cape fisheries off Kodiak Island to reduce the interception of sockeye bound for Cook Inlet. Hoping to get their nets on those fish, Maw and UCIDA were in the thick of things.

The Board’s action angered Rep. Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak, one of those who jumped on Sponholz’s to this day unsubstantiated #metoo accusation to sink Johnstone’s reappointment to the Board.

Ironically, friends of Johnstone believe there is a strong possibility he would have voted against the harvest reduction given weaknesses in the genetic data documenting the number of Inlet fish caught off Kodiak

Who will now get the extra sockeye that reach the Inlet, if any do, remains to be seen. The Board starts meeting in Anchorage on Feb. 7 to decide that question. 

As always, it will be operating in the economic dark when it comes to allocation. The Board has a small army of biologists to advise it on the ecosystem management of fish. But the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has not one economist to advise the Board on the economic management of salmon.

Commercial fishermen have long opposed the idea of managing for maximum economic benefit. The Mat-Su paid for the 2017 study of sport fishery values because Fish and Game had been ducking the sport fish value issue since 2007.

The Commercial Fisheries Division is the big dog in Fish and Game’s bureaucracy and likes to see itself as working cooperatively with its partners in the commercial fishing industry. In Kenai, they share offices in the same building.

It’s all rather cozy with the managers and the 1.5 percent. When the former leave state service, they regularly go to work for the latter. Kodiak commercial fishermen trying to hang onto those sockeye had former Commissioner of Fish and Game Denby Lloyd and just recently Deputy Commissioner Charlie Swanton working for them in Kodiak.

Before becoming deputy commissioner, Swanton was the director of the Sport Fish Division, but he never really seemed to have his heart in that job. And nobody in the state agency has their heart in worrying about the 80 percent.

As for the Board, it really has no way of determining what is in the best interest of the overwhelming majority of Alaskans because it is given neither data or advice. Why would the Board need it? Historically, it has largely bowed to the interests of the 1.5 percent.

It’s gotten away with this because the Alaska media has been largely afraid to touch fishery issues. The number-crunching Gimarc did is what some reporter should have done long ago, but none (including this one) did. Admittedly, there is a small disincentive. You have to pay to get the sportfish list.

Driven by curiosity, Gimarc bought it and started pulling together the data. He wanted to see how big the tail that shakes the dog, and he knew the media couldn’t be counted on.

“They don’t know,” he said. “They don’t care. They’re too busy. They want stuff to be given to them.”

Now it’s been given to them, but don’t expect them to do anything with it. Upsetting commercial fishing interests in Alaska is just not smart business. Ask Karl Johnstone.




















32 replies »

  1. I’m thinking that issues this important need to be defined by good problem statements. How’s this one? “The people of Alaska and the State of Alaska are suffering because the Alaska Board of Fisheries has not been fulfilling its Constitutional obligation to maximize the benefit of the fisheries resource to the people of the State by continuing to restrict personal use, sport, and guided sport salmon fisheries in Upper Cook Inlet in favor of the commercial salmon fisheries.” or maybe this one? “Personal Use, Sport, and guided sport fishermen lack sufficient opportunity to successfully harvest sockeye, chum and coho salmon in the Upper Cook Inlet during July and August because the existing management regime prioritizes commercial fisheries.” Hope to see you all at the BOF meeting.

  2. It can change. Look at commercial guiding and it’s former dominance of hunting & big game.

    No more. Oh, you can still find a guide … especially if you dropped a few g on a resort.

    The bear take was the last to flip. Thanks to Charley Vandergaw, looks like.

    But yeah. Guides & guiding were like medieval heraldry.

    So what’s it gonna take, for the public to claw back a better bin of the fish?

    Create a marina-crisis. More people in boats. River-bank netting-frenzies & photo-ops are too limited. To spread themselves out, work the resource smarter, and really, have a better time all around, folks need to get a damn boat and quite fooling around.

    More people also need to be better-prepared to process & store their fish. Mainly freeze it, and preferably before they go to bed after a long day in the cold & wet. Small custom canneries used to be a nice part of the culture-scene too; there’s still some of that, and with slicker set-ups today, but there could (should) be a lot more of it. It shouldn’t be mainly tourists.

    More emphasis on inland fishing and other secondary venues would help too, and it would be cheap. Everyone’s in a dither over Cook Inlet.

    It could happen, and there are specifics that could be leaned on, pushed.

  3. Different century same song. But Craig you really shouldn’t compare the ex-vessel value paid to fishermen as the total economic value of the commercial fishery compared to the money spent by sport and personal use fishers down to the tip they leave at the local cafe. Try something new, be fair and honest, use similar comparisons. Carry on I have a new box of popcorn.

    • Ken, if you shut down the Sport, Guided sport, and personal use fisheries on the Kenai River, it would very likely reduce Soldotna to an intersection where one had to choose whether to go to Homer or Kenai. It would be disastrous to the economy of the area. On the other hand shutting down the ESSN or Central District Drift Fisheries would have almost no impact by comparison. Permit holders buy much of their gear and capital boat improvements from outside vendors. Many of the dollars earned by non residents crew and permit holders go outside. There is little shopping, lodging, or use of restaurants by the Comm fishers.
      On the other hand almost all of the dollars spent by the sport and PU crowd are spent in the region and the multiplier of those dollars also spent in the region.
      Do you think that the mega dollar homes built on or near the Kenai River would exist if not for the non Comm fisheries. Of course not! The real property taxes on those homes funds local govt to the tune of many millions annually. . Arguably far more than from real property taxes paid by a the Comm property owner’s.
      Unfortunately the hand writing is in the wall but you and others just do not want to read it. Sport and PU fisheries in UCI are far more valuable to Alaskans then the Comm fishery. And it will only get worse.
      And btw, the tips to wait staff made by the tens of thousands who participate in the recreational and PU fisheries may be larger than you think. And pretty sure that they exceed exponentially what your Comm fishers give. As you know they do not use restaurants that much. Either eat at home or eat on their boats. They cannot afford to eat out. That should say a lot about the viability and the future of their fisheries. No?

      • Craig not going to argue if the non-commercial fishers have a bigger impact on the local economy, only saying your continued very biased but consistent article isn’t comparing similar statistics the commercial fishery is worth way more that what you are stating.

        Maybe the larger and more valuable user group should pay for the buyout of the more traditional long standing user group that is being disenfranchised. A sir-charge on food, fuel and lodging earmarked to buy back commercial permits might be a good start. Personal use fishers pay a special fee to have the privilege to waste the amount of fish that they do.

        As far as Soldotna being a crossroads between Kenai and Homer. It was a hell of a lot nicer place to live in the mid-70’s when I lived there, you might see 8-10 boats on the river on a mid-July day with one guide, Spencer DeVito then the quick food zoo and wall to wall mess it is now.

        That personal use fishery is totally uncontrollable. I like to know the amount of fish that are taken and go to waste from that fishery. In addition to the amount that are canned and illegally sold. Stop at Quartzite AZ any winter day and you can buy all the Kenai Sockeye you want.

    • as you well know, and as was clearly stated in the story, i didn’t even try to compare the total economic value of the commercial fishery to the other two fisheries.

      first off, we have no idea as to the economic value of the personal-use fishery. no one has ever tried to calculate that. it might be cheap-ass low based on what i spend to get those fish. it might be ridiculously high based on what my former commercial fishermen neighbor claims dipnetters spend on gear: boat, four-wheeler, truck to tow them to the Kenai, untold volumes of gas, payment to a processor to filet and vacuum pack the fish, etc., etc.

      as for the sport fishery, we do have some numbers. these are in the $700 to $900 (inflation corrected) million scale for Cook Inlet. McDowell has put the regional value of the commercial fishery at $814 M,” but that includes Cordova ($134M), Seward ($83M), Valdez ($50M), Anchorage ($50M), and Homer ($15M) for the halibut that goes through there on its way to Canada to be processed. (

      i’ve always wondered why Homer doesn’t make a big stink about the fish-tax revenue sharing it doesn’t get because the halibut merely gets offloaded there for shipment to Canada for processing, but that’s off the subject. as is the $50M in Anchorage, which would appear to be largely what is going through the Anchorage airport. Cook Inlet fish comprise but a small part of that.

      but even if we leave Anchorage and Homer in the equation and simply take out Valdez and Cordova (i’ll leave in Seward, too, because Icicle is processing some Inlet fish there along with other fish), we’re down under $600M for the Inlet commercial fishery, which is significantly less than the number in the latest (Mat-Su) sport fish study.

      and Mat-Su sport fisheries today, given what has happened to runs there, are a shadow of what they were when you were here as regional comm. fish supervisor. but where things are today really isn’t the issue.

      given the bigger economic picture, the sport fisheries are both increasing in value and have room for growth even without an increase in the current size of salmon returns. the commercial fishery is decreasing in value and its only room for growth would come from increasing the size of runs.

      maybe if we put a monster hatchery on the Kenai or at the mouth of the Susitna?

      • Now you are really trying to piss me off. 😉 You and I both despise hatcheries, last thing Cook Inlet needs is to muddle things worse in a blender fishery.

        I once told an East side fisherman after a very lucrative season in the mid-80’s when one sockeye was worth more than a barrel of oil, and he was smiling and planning for a big expansion to not to get too excited as he wouldn’t recognize the Upper Cook Inlet commercial fishery by the year 2000. The shear numbers of non-commercial users will end up dictating what ultimately happens in Upper Cook Inlet. I may have missed the date but not the ultimate conclusion.

        Maybe a start would be to freeze all movement of Cook Inlet set net permits and close commercial fishing in the Northern District. The Northern District permit holders would be bought out. As poorly as their fishery has been most of them would probably jump at the chance. Not sure where the money would come from and that would have to be in place before it was implemented.

        No permits would be allowed to be sold or traded in Cook Inlet with the exception of within the immediate family. As set net permits that were retired the set net site would no longer be fished. Additionally the East side onshore and near shore set net sites would be limited to Bristol Bay depth. 29 meshes. That would help the incidental catch of king salmon.

        I just thinking off the cuff and I’m sure I’m missing something but food for thought.

  4. What a mess, thats been my view for decades with regards to C.I.
    Like a slow motion train wreck,its too bad for all involved really, this really ties back to evolving (need to evolve)inshore Ak fisheries.
    Glad my time was spent mostly offshore (or remote inshore),and glad I got out when I did, but the change was definitely rocky at times.
    Slowly strangled fisheries and past AK lifestyles (rural and urban),change is a comin’.
    As a species, we chaff at that sort of thing

  5. You are very clever the way you compare apples and oranges with sport, dip netter s and commercial fishing. Well maybe you should include with commercial fishing how much money they spend locally on fishing supplies, groceries and repairing their gear. Also you may want to consider that in 2019 UCI set netters were only permitted to fish 11 days in which two of those days where not fishable for most fisherman due to highwinds. Whereas sport fisherman and dipnetters fished far more days.

    Simply put fish and game could not manage the Kenai River without setnetters.

    I know the three modalities of fishing can work together if we actually want that solution. Till then let the politicians control the fish.

    • thanks for the compliment, Trey. but i am by no means clever.

      everyone spends money on fishing supplies, groceries and repairing shit. that’s why i avoided trying to make the complicated comparison and stuck to a simple example. those big Cabelas and Bass Pro shops in Anchorage exist because a small army of anglers and dipnetters spend money there.

      and though i’m not clever, i am smart enough to figure out that ADF&G could manage the Kenai without setnets. the state has the authority to create new fisheries with new gear types. i’m not in favor of that. i’d actually rather see some of the existing harvest shift from the drift fleet to setnets, a move which would solves a bunch of problems in the Susitna drainage.

      unfortunately, there is a king salmon by-catch problem setnetters have shown little interest in trying to help solve, and that complicates things.

      and finally let me explain a fundamental of fisheries management. it doesn’t matter how many days, hours or minutes anyone fishes. what matters is how many fish they catch. if you were willing to fish only 12-inch mesh, i’d guess ADF&G might be willing to let you fish 24/7 all summer.

      are you willing to fish 12-inch mesh?

      • Thanks for the reply. You mention it’s not time allotted for fishing, but how many fish they catch. I agree and for the last several years (the Eastside set netters) have not caught a lot of fish. What is the real issue here? The diminishing return of king salmon? If so, if there concerns for the king return, only allow the set nettters to fish 29 mesh and beach nets only. Idea… How about discussing solutions that work and are realistic.

    • Terry,
      I think you are vastly overestimating your group’s financial contributions to our state and local economies.
      First off, unlike sport fishing groups (other than a few select Charter Operators) there are no state sponsored low interest loans for us to repair our gear or buy a new motor.
      The hundreds in millions of dollars in the state of Alaska’s commercial fish lending program has done a huge disservice to the personal use fisheries across the state.
      This program continues to allow many permit holders (who are way in debt to the state) to harvest fish for personal gain and send the resource out of state and many times right out of the country.
      This while personal use fisheries are closed in the Upper Cook Inlet, year after year.
      So your group bought groceries and fuel, etc for the big 11 days that you fished…while residents buy inflated groceries for 365 days a year.
      On top of giving all our fish to a few elites that own the permits, we get no income taxes out of the millions in dollars of revenue that your group collects year after year.
      First step in regaining our resource is to stop the state lending program to the commercial fishing industry …this would show who is financial solvent to move ahead.
      Then we can begin to reevaluate the number of permit holders since it is obvious that the current system has failed all of us who have enjoyed sport fishing in the UCI year after year.

  6. The true sports fisherman/fisherwoman are the ones being left out in the cold on these issues. Commercial charters are in it for the same reason as the commercial fishers who use nets, pots, and hooks…the money. If the average Alaskan sports fisherman/fisherwoman were to vote based solely on how our elected officials vote there would be a massive sea change (pun intended) in how our fisheries are managed, given that voter turnout is so poor. If 20% of the population voted as a block, this would effect change in a very noticeable way.

      • Don’t stop there, the same question should be asked of Alaska’s Congressional Delegation. Elected officials are the only once’s who can answer the question of who gives them how much money to run for office.

        Thank’s to the Nixon Supreme Court under Chief Justice Burger big, rich corporation are people too. Giving them, foreign companies, and any “special interests” group unlimited restrictions of spending money on USA elections. I don’t know how much of that money to individual Candidates is traceable.

        Always would be fun to know for sure before voting.

  7. Follow the money. Have ya been to Juneau during the legislative session anytime in the last decades? Commercial Fisheries Industry lobbyists rule, more than all but the oil&gas lobby and that’s only sometimes.
    Non-commercial fish harvesters lobbyists are few and irregular at best.
    As your representative who gives them money to campaign for their re-election.

  8. I just looked up the Kenai King counts for 2019. 4,000 in-river first run, 12,000 in second run.
    So how many Kings were reported by-caught by the setnetters? And how many were harvested in-river under sport/personal use?

    • If commercial harvest of salmon is reduced or eliminated, must the 80% of alaskans who don’t fish eat farmed salmon? And if I understand correctly,one of the reasons the board voted to reduce the Kodiak seine harvest was to put more fish in the northern district streams. I would think most would be in support of that, with the recent problems in the northern district.Here on the Kenai,ecapement goals for sockeye were exceeded by half a million fish. What good would more fish do. The dipnet fishery and the russian river fishery are already elbow to elbow. Perhaps some would like the whole river to be a combat fishery. Of course ucida lobbys to protect their interests. Lets not forget the godfather of krsa donated over $300,000. To our current gov. And his kenai campaign office was in the krsa building in soldotna. Works both ways.

      • i would expect some of the 80 percent already eat farmed salmon. i’d expect the number might not be out of line with that in the rest of the country given that most Alaskans are now more like Lower 48ers than ever.

        but whose talking about eliminating harvest? even in Cook Inlet, home to the most intensive sport fishery in the state, dipnetters and anglers don’t have the harvest capacity to capture all the sockeye surplus to spawning needs.

        the commercial fishery isn’t going away and even if it were shrunk to a tenth its present size, which i’m not suggesting, the harvest of 150,000 to 200,000 would be more than adequate to supply the Alaska retail market.

        and yes, the stated intent of the Board was to put more fish in Cook Inlet streams. but whether that happens or not remains to be seen. clearly, the history is that there are NOT a lot of folks on the Kenai concerned about putting fish in north end streams even though that might help reduce some of the “crowding” about which those who don’t actually fish the Kenai River seem to worry incessantly.

        the dipnet and Russian River fisheries are sometimes elbow-to-elbow. often, they are not. it all has to do with whether fish are available to those fisheries. no fish; no fishermen. thus this is a management issue. the problem is both with the number of fish and the timing.

        management policy has been to fish the commercial nets as much as possible in the Inlet early so as to avoid extra fishing periods later and the resultant increase in Chinook bycatch. such a strategy unfortunately minimizes the number of sockeye in the river early and reduces the window of time for tourist anglers to visit Alaska.

        then, when we get into the dipnet season, we’re operating a fishery the footprint of which has been reduced since the early days, which reduces the fishery’s harvest capacity, and we’ve imposed an arbitrary end date of July 31 even though there are often loads of sockeye entering the river after that date.

        that said, i think it would be a good idea to create a new commercial fishery targeting Kenai sockeye, but that idea has never been discussed because the BOF is not very adaptive in its management.

  9. Alaska is fish crazy…make no mistake about it.
    Whether you use a little net, big net or hook makes little difference…the opinions are strong.
    Funny thing about salmon is we are made to think of it as a “health food” packed with Omega 3’s.
    The reality is a filet of salmon has nearly as much Cholesterol as a serving of your favorite meat.
    3 ozs (85g) of your favorite steak will put around 62 mg of plaque forming Cholesterol in the body, where as salmon contains 54 mg of Cholesterol per (99g) of filet.
    “There simply are no low cholesterol flesh foods, and there are no plant foods with any cholesterol.”
    (Howard Lyman) from the book “Mad Cowboy”

      • Steve O,
        You are correct on the body needing some Cholesterol to function…which is the reason why our body allows the liver to make all we need for a healthy life.
        The problem comes when Americans eat meat nearly 3 times a day and flood the body with excess Cholesterol.
        I was just pointing out that fish is really not a “heart healthy” substitute to meat since it contains nearly the same amount of Cholesterol per serving.
        There is no debating that excess Cholesterol leads to constriction of the arteries and coronary heart disease.

      • Ancient man also suffered from “excess Cholesterol”, whatever that means. Mummies found the world over had hardening of the arteries and plaque buildup, it is a part of the human condition.

        Genetics are more likely to influence any given persons cholesterol level than whether they eat salmon or not. Exercise is also more important than whether salmon is consumed or not. Roughly half of those who have heart attacks also have “healthy” cholesterol levels. The kind of cholesterol in your blood and the ratio of good to bad cholesterol is much more important than how high the overall number. Salmon provide healthy cholesterol, grass fed beef does the same, wild game is even better.

  10. Same old same old from Medred. UCIDA has no political power when compared to the clout that the Kenai River Sportfishing Association wields, which by the way , is the mouthpiece for another commercial fishing interest – fishing guides & charters. Right now those same guides who also hammer halibut are lobbying to reduce the private angler’s daily limit to one fish so they can protect their commercial interests.

    • Yep! UCIDA has no power. Right. But please tell us readers about it. Tell us UCIDA did not hold large fund raising events for Gov Walker. Or that they did not get their way with the new Walker BOF at the last Upper Cook Inlet BOF meeting. Or that former commercial fisherman Sam Cotten who was appointed Commissioner by Walker did not exercise his emergency order authority to favor the Governor’s commercial campaign contributors. Time and time again. And let us not forget that Walker appointed Roland Maw to replace the former Chairman whom Walker unceremoniously called and fired off the BOF. You remember of course that Roland Maw had been the executive director of UCIDA. Right? Or that he is presently awaiting trial for multiple felonies. And of course you recall that UCIDA and UFA exercised considerable clout in smearing the former Chair last April and succeeded in keeping him from being confirmed.
      But as you say they have no political power. Wrong! Hopefully that organization’s clout will be curtailed soon. But for now your claim has zero credibility.

  11. One of the problems that face the sport and dip net fishers is that they are not very well organized. Commercial fishers often have a significant financial stake in their fishery business. And just about every commercial fishery ( dozens) has an organization representing the stake holders with a director who often is found lobbying legislators and Board of Fishery members. Individual anglers and dip netters have little financial stake in their fisheries. Except for one guide organization and a sport / personal use fishing association in the whole state, they carry little weight with the Board of Fisheries or with the legislators. Commercial organizations have large fund raising events and individually contribute many campaign dollars to elected officials. All because they individually have more at stake. Unless the anglers and dippers,who have exponentially far more numbers of participants seeking opportunity to catch this common resource, get organized and achieve some political clout, they will always be overwhelmed when trying to make legislative or regulatory policy changes.
    People like Jensen, a well known commercial fisherman himself, will remain on the Board of Fisheries for decades. People like Johnstone who try to achieve balance between Comm, sport, and personal use Alaskans will be targeted with political dollars and not be appointed or in his case, confirmed.

    • Alaska Outdoor Council speaks for inriver fisherman all the time but until the composition of the BOF changes nothing can get done. The BOF is still controlled by the commercial fisherman.

      • Sorry Bill, I do not buy your reasoning, that comm fish controls BOF. KRSA’s buddy, Mike D., has had ample opportunity to make new appointments to BOF and did so. Are you saying Mike D. succumbed to comm fish pressures and reappointed Jensen? Mike D. was the sports communities choice. Did KRSA want Jensen gone?
        All members of the public are eligible to be part of the process, with the local ADF&G advisory committees. You can make comments, support or not, and also help write BOF proposals and testify at BOF mtgs.
        So, maybe quit blaming comm fish and get involved. Or you can continue to take the easy way out and spout your views on blogs.
        Either way I gotta ask:
        “How’s that hopey-changey stuff working out for ya”.

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