• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
2m 27s

Kuskokwim king salmon crisis spawns fears about protest fishing

By Rhonda McBride 7:59 AM June 11, 2014

As king salmon numbers dwindle on the Kuskokwim River, frustrations only grow – and so do worries that fishermen will not comply with the ban on fishing for kings.

State fishery managers fear this year’s run could be similar to the one last season, which was the lowest on record.  A ban on fishing for kings has been in effect for three weeks now, a time when fish racks would normally be heavy with salmon.

Subsistence fishing is not banned completely. Gill nets with four-inch mesh are allowed. The mesh size is generally too small to snag kings but allows fishermen to target other species such as whitefish.

There are also fears that protest fishing might erupt in communities along the river, which resulted in citations issued to several dozen fishermen in 2012.

With a trial set for July, 23 fishermen who were cited that summer are now in the process of appealing fines for fishing during a closed period.

Akiak was one of the villages that put their nets in the water two years ago in defiance of state regulations.

Leaders like Akiak’s tribal chief, Ivan M. Ivan, objects to calling these protest fisheries. He said they are “survival” fisheries.

Ivan said the community hasn’t ruled out fishing for king salmon, despite the ban against it. He believes state biologists are wrong about the weakness of the run.

John Linderman, who has tracked salmon runs on the Kuskokwim River for many years for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, said king salmon have cycles of ups and down on the Kuskokwim.

“We’ve been here before, maybe not quite as low as a persistent period of time,” Linderman said. “How long it continues to persist, this current trend of low abundance, is the $100,000 question.”

Linderman said if too many people defy the closure, it take longer for the run to rebuild. But from what he’s seen so far, people along the river seem to be cooperating more.

“It’s encouraging to see most people focused on the need for conservation, even though they’re doing it at a great sacrifice to themselves,” Linderman said. “They deserve a lot of credit.”

One thing that may prevent civil disobedience this summer is the federal takeover of fisheries management for a 200-mile stretch of river between Aniak and the mouth of the Kuskokwim.

Federal managers have set aside 1,000 kings for a cultural and subsistence fishery, to be allocated among 32 villages.

While it literally would be just a taste of king salmon, it allows tribal councils to decide who receives the fish – which would likely be based on need and traditional use.

Despite the extremely limited nature of the fishery, it gives tribes an opportunity to collaborate with managers, something tribal leaders say they did not have under state management.

Visit our Kuskokwim King Crisis photo gallery

Latest Stories

  • News

    After Chester Creek trail attack, Anchorage residents raise safety concerns

    by Bonney Bowman on Mar 30, 19:09

    A weekend attack is raising concerns about safety on Anchorage’s trails. A woman was stabbed on Chester Creek Trail Sunday afternoon. The victim told officers from the Anchorage Police Department that she was texting and walking near the Northern Lights Boulevard overpass when someone came up behind her, knocked her out, stabbed her and went through […]

  • News

    Coast Guard rescues sick mariner near Cold Bay

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Mar 30, 18:30

    A helicopter from the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station in Kodiak medevaced a fisherman with severe abdominal pains from a ship 30 miles south of Cold Bay on Sunday. The chopper and a Coast Guard cutter happened to be in the area as part of a continuous Bering Sea patrol mission when guard watchstanders received […]

  • Crime

    Fairbanks PD: Man arrested for DUI after crashing vehicle, stealing forklift

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Mar 30, 17:54

    A Delta Junction man was arrested Monday after crashing his vehicle along Phillips Field Road, then swiping a forklift to try and free his vehicle. His breath alcohol level was .230 — nearly three times the legal limit, according to a release from the Fairbanks Police Department. Police have identified the subject as Aleksandr Glushko. […]

  • Lifestyle

    Endangered beluga whale population sees slight increase in 2014

    by Hope Miller on Mar 30, 15:47

    An endangered beluga whale population saw a slight increase in 2014, but researchers say it’s not a significant jump. The 2014 Cook Inlet beluga population estimate is 340 whales, an increase from 2012 when the population was roughly 312, according to a release from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. They were first listed as […]

  • Politics

    Bill to decriminalize marijuana clears the Senate

    by Rhonda McBride on Mar 30, 14:31

    A bill to decriminalize marijuana cleared the state Senate Monday by a 17 to 3 margin. Senate Bill 30 has gone through various permutations, seesawing between taking pot off the state’s list of controlled substances to putting it back on. Opponents to the bill, three Democrats, said the legislation did not comply with the spirit […]

  • Anchorage Centennial

    Documentary charts Anchorage’s growth over past 100 years

    by Daybreak Staff on Mar 30, 11:20

    In the past 100 years Anchorage has grown from what was first a tent city to what we now call home. Documentary filmmaker Todd Hardesty joined Daybreak Monday to talk about how he’s helping tell the city’s story with a film called “Anchorage Is…” Hardesty was tasked with covering the 100-year period while also touching […]

  • On-Air

    Teacher of the Week: Royce Zometsky

    by James Gaddis on Mar 30, 10:06

    Building relationships is the key to success for Clark Middle School educator Royce Zometsky. The eighth-grade science teacher was named KTVA 11’s Teacher of the Week Monday morning on Daybreak. “Getting to know them, so it doesn’t seem that they’re just coming in, I’m just going through a routine on a daily basis,” Zometsky said. […]

  • Politics

    Low-income workers say Medicaid expansion would help

    by Rhonda McBride on Mar 30, 9:14

    The House Health and Social Services Committee heard from a number of working Alaskans who fall in the Medicaid coverage gap. The committee took several hours of testimony on Saturday on House Bill 148, legislation to reform and expand Medicaid, introduced by Gov. Bill Walker. Most of those who weighed in said they support Medicaid […]