• 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

    Fili’s Pizza drops liquor store application

    by Anna Rose MacArthur/KYUK on Mar 26, 19:01

    Fili’s Pizza has dropped its application to turn its restaurant into a liquor store, according to a story published by KYUK Public Media. Bethel City Council issued a protest of the license in February, mainly because of the site’s location. The pizzeria sits across the street from a halfway house and a cemetery, down the […]

  • News

    Sunken South Korea ferry lifted from sea floor

    by Associated Press on Mar 26, 18:26

    South Korean salvage crews have raised a sunken, 6,800-ton ferry out of the water and loaded it onto a transport vessel that will carry it to a port. The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said Friday that the upper side of the Sewol had been lifted from the seafloor, where it was lying sideways after […]

  • Politics

    Trump tweets about Democrats, Freedom Caucus after health care bill fails

    by CBS News on Mar 26, 18:01

    President Trump initially publicly blamed Democrats for the failure of the Republican health care bill. But on Sunday morning, he hit the Freedom Caucus and outside groups, too, tweeting that Democrats in Washington are “smiling” after the conservative Republicans “saved” Planned Parenthood and Obamacare. Democrats are smiling in D.C. that the Freedom Caucus, with the […]

  • Sports

    Alaskans bring home medals from the Special Olympics World Winter Games

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Mar 26, 16:47

    Among the athletes at this year’s Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria were two Alaskans, both of whom brought home medals in their respective sports. Madison Englund is a snowboarder from Fairbanks and earned two medals at the games. Fellow athlete Jennifer Troutman hails from Anchorage and earned a medal in Alpine skiing. She was disqualified […]

  • Politics

    Meet the candidates: District 6 – Seat K – South Anchorage

    by Daniella Rivera on Mar 26, 16:00

    KTVA invited every registered candidate running in the upcoming Anchorage municipal election to an on-camera interview at our studios to discuss the following topics: Balancing the budget Public safety Introducing new taxes Addressing homelessness in Anchorage Plans for the future We also asked each candidate to submit a 300-word biography. The candidates’ full interviews and […]

  • Alaska troopers search for suspects in taxi driver’s robbery

    by KTVA / AP on Mar 26, 13:56

    Alaska State Troopers say they are searching for two men who robbed a taxi driver at gunpoint. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports that a trooper news release says a driver for Arctic Cab picked up a man at Club Manchu early Saturday morning. Troopers say the man, who appeared to be in his early 30s, […]

  • News

    3 pilots inducted into Alaska Aviation Hall of Fame

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Mar 26, 13:20

    Three pilots were inducted into the Alaska Aviation Hall of Fame Saturday night. KTVA’s Joe Vigil was the master of ceremonies at the event, which honored pilots Holger “Jorgy” Jorgenson, Sam White and J. Vic Brown Jr. The ceremony is a major fundraiser for the Alaska Aviation Museum, which preserves the state’s aviation history, past […]

  • Trooper-involved shooting leads to deaths of suspect, K-9

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Mar 26, 12:02

    Last updated at 1 p.m. on Sunday, March 26 A Wasilla man and a K-9 died Sunday after a shooting involving Alaska State Troopers, according to an online dispatch. The incident began around 2:50 a.m. during an attempted traffic stop in the area of Bogard Road and Helen Lane in Wasilla, trooper spokeswoman Megan Peters […]