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Fishermen weigh in on Kenai debate

By Shannon Ballard 11:17 AM February 2, 2014

Board members will review hundreds of proposals on Kenai River fish management.

ANCHORAGE – The Alaska Board of Fisheries is working to resolve some contentious issues in the Upper Cook Inlet, including those related to fishing Kenai River king salmon for sport, commercial and personal use.

Policy changes and new regulations may be on the way. Over the next couple weeks, board members will review hundreds of proposals from different groups.

Sport and commercial fishermen had plenty to say about how the board should manage kings on the Kenai during Saturday’s public testimony. One after another, people presented their desires to the Alaska Board of Fisheries.

Sport fisherman Jim Stubbs fishes the Kenai with his family. He said he worries there won’t be enough stock left when his granddaughter is old enough to join him.

“I want to make sure I can take her fishing, especially for a Kenai king,” he said.

Stubbs encourages others to let their voice be heard.

“I don’t think a person can complain about something unless they’re trying to do something to change it,” he said.

Robert Williams, a set netter, said he hopes new regulations won’t destroy commercial fishing on the Kenai.

“We all share these resources,” Williams said. “We’re trying to figure out a way where we can harvest the available surplus sockeye and get as many of the kings to the river as we can.”

Over the weeks ahead, the board will review nearly 250 proposals for policy changes or new rules.

The end goal is to manage lower numbers while balancing the needs of various groups.

“It’s not easy,” said board member Orville Huntington. “But in the end, all fishermen want to conserve fish so you always look at that end goal. “

Huntington hopes by the end of this two-week-long meeting, the best decisions will be made.

“The intent is not to make everybody happy but at least let them speak their concerns and their ideas on fixing the problems,” he said.

Public testimony will continue through the weekend, and the board will use testimony during work in committees.

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