• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
2m 51s

How to manage Kenai king returns?

By Heather Hintze 9:11 PM January 31, 2014

Setnetters and sportfishermen are split on how to best handle a record-low return of king salmon.

ANCHORAGE - The Alaska Board of Fisheries is tasked with determining how to best manage a record-low return of Kenai king salmon.

“Very clearly the problem has to do with conditions in the ocean, the environmental conditions in the ocean. We know there’s ups and downs, there’s good years and bad years and we’re in an extended period of bad years,” said senior fish scientist Ray Bearmsederfer. “Now the trick when that happens is to regulate the fisheries so that we don’t over-fish on these weak runs and drive them to lower levels and prolong the period of low returns.”

What to do depends on who you ask: Setnetters and sportfishermen are squaring off in the debate.

In 2012 the sportsfishing industry took a big financial hit when the Kenai River closed to king fishing for almost the entire summer. Guides had to take clients out for reds instead.

Kenai River Sportsfishing Association Executive Director Ricky Gease said additional restrictions on setnetting could help manage kings.

“It’s just an on/off switch right now,” Gease said. “Are there intermediate steps you can take from going to a full-on fishery to a full-off fishery? That might be reduction in the size of the nets, shallow them up, might be removing a couple nets here and there. Those are things we can look forward to.”

That same summer, setnetters were also sidelined for most of the season to conserve kings.

They only fished a handful of days and lost millions of dollars.

Setnetters’ main target is red salmon — which is expected to have a strong run this year — but they also catch kings in the process.

Mark Powell owns Alaska Salmon Processors that works exclusively with fish caught by setnet.

He said it doesn’t make sense for the commercial industry to stay out of the water when it only catches a small percentage of kings.

“That’s been the idea that’s been put out to the public that working together to limit the setnetters more is the answer,” Powell said. “Our contention is over the past 30 years we’ve been limited so much that we only fish a month’s period. The main problem with the Kenai king salmon is the early run that we’ve not fished on in 50 years.”

He said the answer is to limit the time guides have on the Kenai River instead.

“Unless we address the problems of the in river issues, we are not going to solve the problem by limiting the commercial set net fishery more and continuing to over scape these rivers with way too many sockeye,” Powell said. “That’s not the biological answer.”

Each industry said the health of the fishery is the main priority. Without it, they’re all out of work.

“Being closed doesn’t help either side. If we open the season with bait and try to fish the full season with bait, we’d harvest too many fish,” Gease said. “If you open the season and try to fish the regular number of hours that the set netters traditionally fish when there’s no king conservation concerns, you’re going to harvest too many fish in that fishery. Both of us need to work together and cooperate in order to step down the harvest while allowing the fisheries to continue.”

It’s ultimately up to the Alaska Board of Fisheries to determine how kings are managed and which group will be most impacted by the restrictions.

Latest Stories

  • News

    State releases emails relating to National Guard complaints

    by Dave Leval on Oct 31, 22:31

    Piles of documents regarding allegations of sexual assault and misconduct within the Alaska National Guard were released Friday by the Alaska Department of Law. The first thing you notice about the hundreds of pages of documents is how much they do not say regarding the controversy. Just about every page has redacted information. They show […]

  • News

    Evening News weather, Oct. 31

    by Carlos Faura on Oct 31, 21:04

    Kenai Peninsula and Prince William Sound Expect increasing clouds with periods of snow and rain, especially on the coast. Southeast The panhandle will get a soaking tomorrow, with snow for high elevations. Interior/Slope The Interior will have mostly cloudy to partly cloudy skies with a flurry or two for northeastern areas. Slope areas will get […]

  • News

    You ate it, now negate it: Burning off Halloween candy calories

    by Heather Hintze on Oct 31, 19:53

    With trick-or-treating done for another year, many families have a massive stash of candy. Even the little fun-sized pieces can pack on the calories. Heather Poe, a registered dietician with the Alaska Club, said parents need to be mindful of the sugar as well. She took her two boys to a harvest festival instead of […]

  • Crime

    Man charged with pulling down telephone pole

    by Associated Press on Oct 31, 15:51

    A Fairbanks man suspected of shearing off a telephone pole when his truck pulled down an overhead wire has been issued a reckless driving summons. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (http://bit.ly/1pb91pU) reports 58-year-old James Knopke on Sept. 12 was pulling a trailer behind a 7.5-ton military surplus vehicle, which had a 16-foot homemade boom attached to […]

  • News

    Federal agency releases Arctic drilling review

    by Associated Press on Oct 31, 14:21

    The federal agency overseeing offshore petroleum development has released a revised environmental review of drilling off Alaska’s northwest coast, and critics say it shows the risk is too great. Mike LeVine of Oceana says it’s the third time the government has tried to justify offering leases in the Chukchi Sea based on an unfair evaluation […]

  • Politics

    Campaign 2014: Byron Mallott

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 31, 13:30

    This week, KTVA is running a series of interviews with the main candidates for office. KTVA’s Rhonda McBride brings us interviews with the candidates for lieutenant governor, starting with Byron Mallott — who has worn a number of hats, from mayor of Juneau and Yakutat to director of the Permanent Fund Corporation. For Mallott, however, […]

  • News

    Virgin Galactic spaceship crashes in Calif.; 1 reported dead

    by CBS/AP on Oct 31, 12:28

    Last Updated Oct 31, 2014 4:18 PM EDT MOJAVE, Calif. – A Virgin Galactic space tourism rocket, the SpaceShipTwo, exploded and crashed Friday during a test flight, killing one person aboard and seriously injuring another, witnesses and officials said. Wreckage was spotted in Southern California’s Mojave Desert. The spacecraft was carrying a crew of two. The Kern […]

  • News

    Fatal crash closes Seward Highway near Girdwood

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 31, 11:37

    One person has died and another sustained serious injuries after a multiple-vehicle collision on the Seward Highway Friday, Alaska State Troopers say. The crash — which occurred just before 11 a.m. north of Girdwood near Mile 96 — closed traffic in both directions as first responders assisted the victims, said AST spokeswoman Megan Peters. Beth […]