A scenario that area management biologists were hoping to avoid is playing out between the Kenai king and Kasilof sockeye salmon fisheries this week as strong sockeye salmon runs continue to push their way into the Cook Inlet while weak king salmon runs will likely force further restrictions on fishing in the Kenai and Kasilof rivers.
Sportfishing anglers, personal-use fishing dipnetters and both set and drift gillnetting commercial fishers have found their means, methods and available time affected as Alaska Department of Fish and Game managers juggle competing fishing interests and conservation during the busiest time of the fishing season on the Kenai Peninsula. For the third fishing season in a row managers are calling the situation a “perfect storm” of competing salmon escapement goals.
Commercial fishers have harvested about 1 million sockeye in Upper Cook Inlet as of July 15, according to Fish and Game data, but they have also taken about 1,000 king salmon. Efforts to reduce the harvest of king salmon, while maintaining — or raising — the harvest of sockeye salmon have kept management biologists busy over the last few weeks.
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