King salmon are the lynchpin of the Cook Inlet fishery. Other runs of other salmon species are far more abundant, but the health of king salmon affects all users.
Alaska is currently experiencing historic low runs of king salmon returning to major systems throughout the state. It affects Alaskans who have fished for kings for years in these rivers and creeks, and the visitors thousands of businesses depend on every summer.
Soldotna businesses sales are off 10 percent to 20 percent. There are more than 100 fewer guide licenses on the Kenai River now compared to 2007, a 28 percent decrease, and “For Sale” signs adorn many lodges.
Further, the sale prices of these are going down. Many attribute this to the lack of kings. The assessed values of river front homes have been a great help to the area, producing tax revenues that translate into jobs, goods and services.
This reduction of value and the number of people wanting to sell is occurring during a downtrend in sports and guided sports harvests of kings. At the same time sports and dipnet harvests of sockeye are remaining robust. What does that say about the value of the king salmon?