Threats loom before Kuskokwim gillnet openings

Four weeks into salmon fishing restrictions, the atmosphere along the Kuskokwim River is tense. At a meeting Tuesday the stress the closures are causing was obvious, but gillnet fishing for salmon is near.

The Bethel Test fishery numbers are showing many more chum and sockeye salmon than kings in the river. That’s one signal that fishing could begin soon. At a Kuskokwim River Salmon Management Working Group meeting Tuesday, subsistence fishers met with managers to figure out when the gillnet restrictions can be relaxed.

Reports of stress along the river in some cases were extreme. Working group member Fritz Charles reported on what he’s hearing about possible violence on the river.

“They’re starting an organization as we speak. If we keep going on like this, what we’re going on, lives could be lost,” said Charles.

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