• 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

  • Politics

    Alaska Republican Party elects new chairman

    by Liz Raines on Apr 30, 12:53

    Tuckerman Babcock is taking over as chairman of the Alaska Republican Party after a vote by members at the state convention in Fairbanks Saturday morning. Babcock won by 52 percent in a three-way race against Ann Brown and Ric Davidge. The final count came after more than 40 minutes of debate on the party’s rules […]

  • News

    Faster than a Falcon: Kids, parents race to beat mascot in Mountain View 5K

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Apr 30, 11:34

    Participants of the seventh-annual Faster Than a Falcon 5K run took off through Mountain View Saturday morning, hoping to win a special prize. The goal for racers each year is to beat a costumed “falcon” runner to the finish line for a special prize. This year’s “falcon” runner was dressed as a raven, who joked, […]

  • News

    Terminating parental rights: State policies vary widely

    by on Apr 30, 11:11

    For child-welfare agencies across the United States, it’s the ultimate sanction: terminating the rights of parents to raise their own children due to concerns about abuse and neglect. All states resort to this step when deemed necessary for a child’s well-being, but there are wide state-to-state disparities in the rate of terminations and the extent […]

  • Sports

    Globetrotters coach a UAA basketball coach

    by Dave Leval on Apr 29, 22:03

    It was a mutual admiration’s society, Thursday morning, on the court at Alaska Airlines Center. The Harlem Globetrotters stopped by for an arranged media gathering and in the process also coached the coach. UAA women’s basketball head coach Ryan McCarthy received a few tips from the Globetrotters before deciding whether or not he should join […]

  • Politics

    Could Alaska choose the republican presidential nominee? It’s possible.

    by Liz Raines on Apr 29, 21:53

    It’s an exciting weekend for hundreds of Alaska Republicans at the state GOP convention in Fairbanks. The delegates chosen there could play a key role in the national convention in Cleveland this summer. It all stems from the local party’s last-minute decision to let Marco Rubio keep the five delegates he won in Alaska during […]

  • Lifestyle

    AK Mission of Mercy offers free dental care to those in need

    by Lauren Maxwell on Apr 29, 20:47

    Not everyone likes to go to the dentist, but hundreds of people were feeling grateful after they got the chance to go Friday. That’s because their dental care was free at an event called AK Mission of Mercy. More than 500 people showed up at the Dena’ina Center to get everything from teeth cleanings to […]

  • Lifestyle

    World-class musician tests out Anchorage’s first world-class Bosendorfer piano

    by Heather Hintze on Apr 29, 19:41

    When you have a world-class piano it only makes sense to have a world-class musician test it out. A viewer called KTVA to tell us Classic Pianos, in Government Hill, had its first ever Bosendorfer piano. It’s hand-made in Austria and retails for $125,000. Lithuanian musician Edvinas Minkstimas happened to be in Anchorage for a […]

  • News

    A dedicated crew keeps remote radar site running

    by Bonney Bowman on Apr 29, 19:24

    In Alaska’s most remote corners, 15 Long Range Radar Sites (LRRS) scan the skies looking for threats. It takes a small, but dedicated force to keep these Cold War-era sites up and running. “We’re only 11 pilots here that do this particular job.” Those 11 pilots fly two C12 planes to all the radar sites […]