• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
News Alert: DIRECTV Customers. Tell DIRECTV to bring back KTVA. Call 800-531-5000. - Read More
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

    After open-heart surgery, Alaska babies try to lead ‘normal’ lives

    by Sierra Starks on Feb 22, 22:21

    Hearing their 3-year-old son splashing in the pool is a harmonious sound to Adriana Fischer and Damon Hampel. “The pool was really a lifesaver for him,” says Fischer. Malachi Hampel was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, which simply means he’s missing the left side of his heart. “The left ventricle is the workhorse of […]

  • News

    Efforts to fill $15-million budget gap mean big cuts in the Anchorage School District

    by Shannon Ballard on Feb 22, 20:12

    “We have trimmed any of the fat that was in our budget, but now we are cutting into bone.” Like each of her fellow board members, Anchorage School Board president Tam Agosti-Gisler voted on Tuesday to approve next year’s money-saving budget, which eliminates 123 full time jobs, including 99 teaching positions. “Fortunately, many of those […]

  • News

    Alaskans work out to end veteran suicide

    by John Thain on Feb 22, 19:15

    A special workout took place on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Wednesday in an effort to raise awareness for suicide and depression. On average, 22 of our nation’s veterans take their own lives every day, according to Mission 22. This workout, organized by 907 Crossfit, aims to get people together and put the issue out in the […]

  • Stunning space discovery: 7 Earth-size planets found orbiting dwarf star

    by William Harwood / CBS News on Feb 22, 19:00

    Astronomers have discovered seven roughly Earth-size planets very close to a cool dwarf star some 39 light-years from Earth, including three orbiting in the star’s habitable zone where liquid water, a key ingredient for life as it’s known on Earth, could be present, researchers announced Wednesday. The record-setting star system is the first to feature […]

  • Weather

    Alaska Weather Forecast – Feb. 22, 2017

    by KTVA Weather on Feb 22, 18:51

    A blizzard warning was issued for St. Lawrence Island, and a winter storm watch is in effect tonight for parts of western Alaska, according to meteorologist Carlos Faura. Follow KTVA 11’s Weather Team on Facebook and Twitter. Got a weather-related photo or story idea? Email the team at weather@ktva.com.

  • Lifestyle

    Food stamps and sweets: Should they be kept apart?

    by Aimee Picchi/CBS News on Feb 22, 18:32

    The food-stamp program is credited with helping 44 million people in America afford groceries, providing what supporters say is a needed benefit for some of the country’s most vulnerable. Yet critics of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) say the anti-hunger program is easily abused, and the latest questions about the program are stirring a […]

  • DayBreak

    Workforce Wednesday: Engineering in Alaska

    by Daybreak Staff on Feb 22, 16:11

    Alaska is home to dozens of engineering specialties, ranging from civil to mechanical, aerospace to ship building. If there’s a big infrastructure project, chances are there was an engineer involved. Engineers also make a broad salary, averaging anywhere from $46 to $73 per hour, according to Cassie Ostrander, a spokesperson for the Alaska Process Industry […]

  • Lifestyle

    Public asked to help count Anchorage moose

    by Heather Hintze on Feb 22, 15:54

    Biologists at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game need your help to count moose around the Anchorage Bowl. They haven’t been able to do their annual aerial surveys for the past few years because of bad weather and low snow. For the first time, the department is asking for the public’s help to track moose […]