• 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

  • Politics

    Alaska preliminary elections roundup

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 06, 21:04

    Results current as of 9:45 p.m. City of Palmer The Palmer ballot had two city council seats and one proposition, which asked voters to decide if they wanted to ban marijuana cultivation, manufacturing and testing facilities, as well as retail stores within city limits. More than half of residents, 54.5 percent, voted yes on Proposition 1, […]

  • News

    Municipality of Anchorage looking to buy more assets in Cook Inlet

    by Alexis Fernandez on Oct 06, 20:04

    The Municipality of Anchorage is looking to buy more assets in Cook Inlet. On Tuesday, the Anchorage Assembly passed a resolution allowing the Berkowitz Administration to move forward with a bid to purchase assets in Cook Inlet. ConocoPhillips is offering to sell its one-third interest in the Beluga River Unit, its 100 percent interest in the […]

  • News

    Juneau family speaks out after losing two sons to heroin

    by Heather Hintze on Oct 06, 19:20

    Shelly Eidsness buried her youngest son, Brock, just three weeks ago — after he died from a heroin overdose in Juneau. “What goes through my mind is, it’s not real,” Eidsness said through her tears. “I want him back. I want my boy.” It’s the second time her family has been impacted by the dangerous drug. […]

  • News

    City considers portable restrooms for downtown

    by Lauren Maxwell on Oct 06, 18:51

    It’s a delicate issue that’s becoming a big problem. A lack of restrooms in downtown Anchorage means some homeless people are going outdoors. Many business owners say they’re tired of cleaning it up. Nina Bonito put a sign on her Kobuk Coffee Company door. It read, “the restrooms are for customers only”. She also built […]

  • News

    Troopers attempt to ID driver killed in Fairbanks-area crash

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 06, 17:51

    Alaska State Troopers are trying to identify a driver who was killed in a single-vehicle collision on Farmer’s Loop Road Sunday evening. Troopers responded to a 911 call from the Fairbanks Police Department just before 6:30 p.m. reporting a rollover, according to an online dispatch. The crash closed Farmer’s Loop briefly. Emergency personnel also responded and […]

  • Crime

    Anchorage police say there could be more victims in 3 child sexual abuse cases

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 06, 17:19

    Police say four adults have been charged in three separate cases involving children victims. The three cases have no connection, according to a release from the Anchorage Police Department. Now, police are asking for the public’s help to determine if more victims are connected with these incidents. In all three cases, police say there is a […]

  • Crime

    Police investigate 2 East Anchorage shootings

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 06, 17:10

    Police are investigating two shootings in East Anchorage they say may be related. Around 2:30 p.m., the Anchorage Police Department responded to reports of shots fired along the 3400 block of Peterkin Avenue, an APD statement said. An apartment building had been shot at multiple times, and police found a number of shell casings at […]

  • News

    U of Memphis student bikes to Alaska to celebrate great-grandma’s 100th birthday

    by Sierra Starks on Oct 06, 16:35

    It will be a celebration to remember for 22-year-old Tyler Park and his great-grandmother when she turns 100 years old this month. Approximately 4,000 miles separate Park, in his fifth year at the University of Memphis, and Mildred Buzby, who has called Alaska home since the 1930s. Park says he and Buzby, who goes by Tiny, haven’t […]