King Salmon Restrictions Cause Tension
ANCHORAGE - King salmon fishing is being restricted all across the state and that is causing tensions to rise in some areas. Things got particularly hot along the Kuskokwim river two weeks ago after biologists extended a seven-day ban on subsistence king fishing into 12 days.
On June 20, protesting fishermen illegally put their nets in the water and forced a confrontation with troopers.
“We wrote 28 citations, we seized 21 nets and probably 11 hundred pounds worth of salmon during that protest fishery,“ said Bethel Fish and Wildlife Trooper Ken Acton.
The number of people who participated in the protest was low but many people in the region say they support the message the fishermen were trying to send.
“I think it is wrong for us not to be able to fish for our Kings because that’s what me and my family mostly eat is dried King Salmon,” said Phillip Ahillikbrik.
Ahillikbrik says as an Alaska Native, he has depended on the fishery for generations. He resents state biologists putting restrictions on the catch. But biologists say they have no choice if the king runs are to continue into the future. They are keeping a close eye on the fish count all along the Kuskokwim, hoping that enough fish will escape fishermen’s nets and make it to their spawning grounds upriver.