February 11, 2014
The Alaska Board of Fisheries, in a key vote Monday, sided with Mat-Su guides and fish experts pleading for restrictions on Cook Inlet's commercial drift gillnet fleet to save flagging Valley runs.
The board, more than halfway through a two-week session at the Egan Civic & Convention Center in Anchorage, unanimously backed the new rules for an existing plan that guides the drift fleet.
Several members described a sense of urgency given low numbers of Susitna River sockeye -- a priority because biologists deem them at-risk - but also weak runs of coho bound for once-popular fishing spots like the Little Susitna River and Jim Creek.
Many Valley residents drive to the Kenai Peninsula to fill their freezers these days, said board chair Karl Johnstone, an Anchorage resident and retired Alaska Superior Court judge.
"The population of this area has tried to make their voices heard at this meeting," Johnstone said. "We had an enormous amount of public comment."