National Fisherman

Abysmal king salmon returns to the Kenai River already have fisheries managers curtailing fishing in one of Alaska's most popular fisheries -- and wondering what's next.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game ordered closures on the Kenai and Kasilof rivers for personal-use and sport fishermen Tuesday.

"When you look at numbers going to the Kenai, it's alarming," area commercial fisheries biologist Pat Shields said Tuesday. "It's forced our hands."

Beginning Thursday, the Kenai River from the mouth upstream to Skilak Lake will be closed to king salmon fishing. King salmon may not be targeted or retained. Fish cannot be removed from the water if accidently hooked.

Also closed is the personal-use set gillnet fishery at the mouth of the Kasilof River. That fishery, though limited in size because of space restrictions in the area, is considered a counterpart to the Kenai River personal use dip net fishery -- some people prefer to use boats and small set nets rather than wading through the water with dip nets.

That 10-day fishery opened June 15 and was set to go until June 24. By cutting the period to fish in half, biologist Shields estimates about 50 king salmon -- some of which could make it to the Kenai -- will be saved.

"Yes, we're closing a popular fishery to save a handful of kings," Shields said.

Early-run king salmon -- the first group to pass through the Kenai -- are about 60 percent through their run, according to Fish and Game. As of Tuesday, the cumulative estimate of king salmon to have passed by the sonar at river Mile 8.9 was 969 fish. By this date during last year's lousy run, 3,575 fish had passed the same spot.

Read the full story at the Alaska Dispatch>>

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Inside the Industry

NMFS announced two changes in regulations that apply to federal fishing permit holders starting Aug. 26.

First, they have eliminated the requirement for vessel owners to submit “did not fish” reports for the months or weeks when their vessel was not fishing.

Some of the restrictions for upgrading vessels listed on federal fishing permits have also been removed.

Read more...

Alaskans will meet with British Columbia’s Minister of Energy and Mines, Bill Bennett, when he visits Juneau next week and will ask him to support an international review of mine developments in northwest British Columbia, upstream from Southeast Alaska along the Taku, Stikine and Unuk transboundary rivers.

Some Alaska fishing and environmental groups believe an international review is the best way to develop specific, binding commitments to ensure clean water, salmon, jobs and traditional and customary practices are not harmed by British Columbia mines and that adequate financial assurances are in place up front to cover long-term monitoring and compensation for damages.

Read more...
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