It is a bit ironic, but the Salmon Policies Alliance Compass piece which ran this week in the Juneau Empire stated, “…the Kenai River is not at risk or in crisis…” Really? The very next day, the Kenai River and the East Side Set Net (ESSN) fishery were closed for fishing due to a dismally low return of Kenai kings. While there is a big run of red salmon, the Kenai kings caught by the ESSN has put the Kenai king run in jeopardy.
The closing of the river last week by Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) was absolutely the right thing to do, it should have been much sooner. The seven largest kings ever caught came from the Kenai — each weighed over 90 pounds. Our Kenai kings are a world renowned national treasure. They must be protected. The extremely low return numbers of Kenai kings tell the tale — we must act now or these spectacular fish will be lost forever.
There are two means of commercial fishing for reds in Cook Inlet. There are about 640 Drift Fleet boats which fish two or more miles off shore.
Last year, the drift fleet proved they could harvest the reds without catching Kenai kings. Other than interception of North District reds and silvers, we have little problems with the drift fleet, since they catch few Kings. Earlier this year, we pled with the Governor and the Commissioner to not use the ESSN, but use the drift fleet as they did so successfully last year. Then, they caught 95 percent of the state’s red harvest goal.
The second means of commercial harvesting reds is the fixed-in-place “set nets”.
Read the ful story at Juneau Empire>>