• 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

  • Sports

    Alaska Aces vs. the NHL: Now a virtual reality

    by Dave Goldman on Sep 28, 22:25

    Gamers unite! You now have the power to create match-ups only dreamed of before. The Alaska Aces versus the Los Angeles Kings? Check. In reality, it’s EA Sports’ NHL 17, which has given its fans the option to mix and match. For the first time, the company added the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL), the Aces’ governing body, and its teams to its […]

  • News

    Neighbors in Anchorage react to Assemblyman Flynn kneeling during Pledge of Allegiance

    by Sierra Starks on Sep 28, 19:50

    Tuesday’s Anchorage Assembly meeting wasn’t a packed one in terms of attendance, but it was a meeting that left an impact on the people there. Assemblyman Patrick Flynn took a knee during the Pledge of Allegiance, something he wrote about on his blog a few days before in a post titled, “To kneel or not […]

  • News

    Food Bank of Alaska hosts Hunger Action Month events in Anchorage

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Sep 28, 19:41

    One in seven Alaskans aren’t sure where their next meal is coming from, according to the Food Bank of Alaska (FBA). As part of Hunger Action Month in September, the nonprofit has organized a city-wide fundraising event with local restaurants to help feed hungry Alaskans. Dine Out Against Hunger is an all-day event featuring breakfast, lunch and […]

  • Lifestyle

    Hatchery busy producing new generation of salmon

    by Lauren Maxwell on Sep 28, 19:13

    If you’ve caught a king or silver salmon in the Anchorage area, it’s very likely it started its life at the William Jack Hernandez Sport Fish Hatchery on Ship Creek. Every year, workers there harvest hundreds of thousands of eggs from returning salmon they fertilize by hand. On Wednesday afternoon, workers at the hatchery were collecting […]

  • Lifestyle

    Aurora forecast strong across much of Alaska for the next few days

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Sep 28, 17:56

    The northern lights are expected to be on display across much of Alaska Wednesday evening and through the rest of the week. The aurora will be visible from areas as far north as Barrow to as far south as Kodiak, according a forecast from the University of Alaska’s Geophysical Institute. The predicted forecast for Wednesday, […]

  • Lifestyle

    The White House wants you to ditch your password and ‘lock down your login’

    by Brian Mastroianni / CBS News on Sep 28, 16:57

    We live in an age of massive cyberattacks – like the recently revealed hack on Yahoo that saw 500 million email accounts compromised back in 2014. News like this is worrying for consumers who want to keep their online information safe from hackers. This is where the White House and the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) come in. They’re teaming up with more than 35 companies, […]

  • Crime

    Man allegedly targeted 14-year-old online for sex, APD concerned there are other victims

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Sep 28, 16:23

    Last updated at 10:32 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 28 An Anchorage man has been arrested for allegedly attempting to entice a 14-year-old for sex via an online personals website, and police say they’re concerned he may have other victims. Police announced Wednesday they have charged 56-year-old Martin Baumann with one count of online enticement of […]

  • News

    Alaska transportation agency fined over waste storage

    by Associated Press on Sep 28, 16:00

    The state transportation department has been fined $118,100 for its handling of hazardous waste at a maintenance facility in Juneau. The penalty was levied by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The federal agency alleged that the transportation department failed to properly identify and label hazardous waste and stored more than 4,000 pounds of hazardous waste […]