• 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

    “Significant loss of life” in Texas hot air balloon crash

    by CBS/AP on Jul 30, 16:44

    Last Updated Jul 30, 2016 7:00 PM EDT LOCKHART, Texas – A hot air balloon carrying at least 16 people caught on fire and crashed in Central Texas on Saturday, causing what authorities described as a “significant loss of life.” Erik Grosof with the National Transportation Safety Board would not provide an exact number of how […]

  • Sports

    IOC sets up 3-person panel to rule on Russian entries

    by Stephen Wilson / AP Sports Writer on Jul 30, 16:32

    The IOC has set up a special three-person panel to make a final ruling on which individual Russian athletes are allowed to compete in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. The International Olympic Committee’s ruling executive board made the decision Saturday in its final meeting before the opening of the Rio Games next Friday. IOC spokesman […]

  • News

    Pocket US Constitution becomes best-seller after speech

    by Associated Press on Jul 30, 15:01

    A pocket version of the U.S. Constitution has become a best-seller on Amazon.com. The 52-page pamphlet printed by the National Center for Constitutional Studies sells for $1 and was in the Top 10 best-selling books on Amazon on Saturday afternoon. The site produces an hourly list of its best sellers. The Constitution emerged as a […]

  • Lifestyle

    ‘Game of Thrones’ to end after season 8, but 7th still ahead

    by Associated Press on Jul 30, 12:55

    HBO is confirming what “Game of Thrones” fans never wanted to hear: The fantasy-thriller phenomenon will be coming to an end after Season 8. Recently HBO renewed the series – adapted from George R.R. Martin’s novels – for a shortened seventh season consisting of seven episodes. The eighth season will bring the saga to a […]

  • News

    Invasive crawfish spread into Kodiak watershed

    by Associated Press on Jul 30, 11:52

    Tribal leaders in Kodiak are working to determine why crawfish, an invasive species, are spreading into the Buskin watershed. The Kodiak Daily Mirror reports that the small crustaceans have been spotted in the Kodiak waters occasionally since the early 2000s, but now the Sun’aq Tribe says the problem is more widespread than previously believed. Sun’aq […]

  • Crime

    Police identify 18-year-old who died after being shot, left at hospital

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jul 30, 8:16

    Updated at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 30 An afternoon release from police named the victim in Saturday’s early morning homicide as 18-year-old Elijah Zeller. Zeller was dropped off at an Anchorage hospital with a gunshot wound early Saturday morning and later died, according to the Anchorage Police Department. APD is treating the case as […]

  • Crime

    APD identifies woman killed in Wednesday night homicide

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jul 29, 22:37

    Updated at 9:18 p.m. on Friday, July 29 The Anchorage Police Department identified the victim of a Wednesday night murder as 33-year-old Eva Edwardson. APD wrote in the statement that Edwardson and the suspect, Kelly Frederick, also 33, knew each other and had a relationship before the fatal stabbing. Edwardson’s next of kin have been […]

  • Lifestyle

    Still life meets real life, statue bearly makes it

    by Megan Edge on Jul 29, 21:29

    An Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center (AWCC) male brown bear, known as Joe Boxer, came across something kind of odd at his home along Turnagain Arm last weekend. It was another bear, but this one was covered with vibrant designs and painted berries. It wasn’t real. In late-June, 14 fiberglass bears, originally white, were brought to […]