• 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

    Latest: Tillerson says China asked North Korea to stop nuke tests

    by Associated Press on Apr 27, 16:06

    The Latest on tensions on the Korean Peninsula (all times local): 6:35 p.m. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says China has asked North Korea to conduct no further nuclear tests. Tillerson says China also told the U.S. that it had informed North Korea “that if they did conduct further nuclear tests, China would be […]

  • Lifestyle

    California says oceans expected to rise higher than thought

    by Associated Press on Apr 27, 12:53

    SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – California says new climate change findings mean the ocean off the state’s coast is expected to rise higher than previously thought. The state’s Ocean Protection Council on Wednesday revised projections it provides to agencies to help them plan for climate change from fossil-fuel emissions. The rise threatens to flood low-lying airports, […]

  • Politics

    Alaska Legislature defies Walker’s call to weigh nominees

    by Associated Press on Apr 27, 12:44

    JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) – The Latest on the Alaska legislative session (all times local): 12:05 p.m. Gov. Bill Walker says he’s disappointed that Alaska legislators refused to consider his nominees to boards, commissions and key administration posts Thursday. Walker called the House and Senate into joint session to hold confirmation votes after the Senate twice […]

  • National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day: Safely dispose of old medication

    by Daybreak Staff on Apr 27, 12:27

    Alaskans with old or expired prescription drugs can get rid of them safely at various locations across the state on National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, which falls on Saturday, April 27. JoEllen Walters, a member of Healthy Voices, Healthy Choices said a lot of people don’t realize flushing old medication down the toilet is not […]

  • News

    Adopt-a-Sailor: Juneau encourages locals to host crew members arriving on Navy ship

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Apr 27, 12:12

    The U.S. Navy’s USS O’Kane and its 330 crew members will be arriving in Alaska’s capital May 13 and will stick around until May 18. On Thursday, the city and borough encouraged some of its 32,739 residents to host a visiting sailor. The O’Kane’s homeport is in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and is described as a 505-foot Arleigh Burke-class […]

  • News

    US Postal Service blocks pot farm from shipping tax money

    by Associated Press on Apr 27, 9:19

    JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) – An Alaska marijuana retailer’s tax payment has been sent back to the business after the U.S. Postal Service refused to ship the money. The Juneau Empire reported Wednesday that Rainforest Farms had tried to send a box full of cash to pay its taxes, but the post office says “any proceeds […]

  • Sports

    ESPN cuts 100 on-air personalities, writers as viewers dwindle

    by CBS News on Apr 27, 9:02

    NEW YORK — ESPN is laying off about 100 employees, including former athletes-turned-broadcasters Trent Dilfer, Len Elmore and Danny Kanell, in a purge designed to focus the sports network on a more digital future. The cuts will trim ESPN’s stable of on-air talent and writers by about 10 percent. The 37-year-old network has been squeezed by […]

  • News

    Anchorage municipality shows residents options for fixing Chester Creek flooding

    by Daniella Rivera on Apr 27, 8:43

    The Municipality of Anchorage is one step closer to solving a flooding problem that residents who live in the Chester Creek area have been dealing with for years. Periodically, often in winter, Chester Creek floods at Arctic Boulevard near 18th Avenue, which affects the bike path and nearby homes. Flooding events also impact part of […]