Matanuska Susitna Borough’s annual Salmon Symposium brings together researchers and conservationists for updates on how to better manage and protect salmon habitat. The event got underway last Thursday in Palmer. Howard Delo is vice-chair of the Borough’s Fish and Wildlife Commission, which is organizing a salmon research plan for the Borough. Delo said there are many reasons to protect the Valley’s salmon runs. One is economic, because healthy fish runs add to the area’s economy.
“That’s the tourism effect,” Delo said. “The bed and breakfasts, the gas stations, the grocery stores, the restaurants, the fishing tackle shops the guides. It’s like coffee, if you can’t get your coffee here, you’re going to go somewhere else. If you can’t get your fish in the Mat-Su, you’re going to go somewhere else. And that has a decided economic impact.”
Poor King salmon and silver salmon returns in recent years have worried state and Borough officials. In fact, Delo said the measurement of sport fishing activity in the Borough has decreased by about half since 2008. Delo said informational meetings like the Salmon Symposium can help bridge the divide between sport and commercial fishing interests.