ANOTHER WALKER ADMINISTRATION SLAM ON SOUTHCENTRAL ALASKANS
Weak king salmon runs in recent years led the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to drastically cut sport fishing in Southcentral Alaska, and limit some commercial king salmon fishing in upper Cook Inlet.
The emergency orders went out today and are in effect May 1 through July 13.
The measure is expected to take a toll on the summer economy of the Mat-Su, where sport fishing is a big draw both for guiding companies, which are small businesses, and for residents trying to put food on the table.
The measure comes just days after Gov. Bill Walker appointed a Kodiak commercial fishing representative to replace a sport fishing representative from Anchorage on the Alaska Board of Fisheries, another slap at Southcentral fishing enthusiasts and families trying to “eat local.”
DETAILS OF THE CLOSURES
King salmon sport fishing in the Susitna River drainage and Little Susitna River drainageis being cut, as is king salmon commercial fishing in the Northern district of the Upper Cook Inlet. Catch-and-release king salmon fishing will be allowed on the Deshka River drainage and Yentna River drainage.
In the Little Susitna River drainage, anglers can keep king salmon caught only on Friday through Mondays.
Commercial king salmon setnetters will also face closures in northern part of upper Cook Inlet, which will close May 28, and June 4, 11, and 18.
Reps. Mark Neuman, Cathy Tilton, David Eastman, DeLena Johnson, George Rauscher, Colleen Sullivan-Leonard, and Sen. Mike Shower, as well as Sen. Shelley Hughes and Sen. David Wilson signed letters that they sent to ADF&G Commissioner Sam Cotten, requesting him to delay and reconsider what they consider to be a devastating decision.
WHY NOT ALTERNATIVES?
According to the website Fight4Fish.com, the Palmer ADF&G office had suggested alternative measures to those up the food chain in the commissioner’s office, including:
- Closing the east side Parks Highway streams to king salmon fishing, including Talkeetna and Chulitna drainages. The Parks Highway streams would remain open to fishing for other species other than king salmon including the portions of the streams below the Parks Highway bridges.
- Keeping the Deshka River open to king salmon fishing but with no bait, artificial single hook restrictions, and an adjusted annual limit of two king salmon. Run assessment and possible closure decision would be made later, on June 12.
- Keeping the Little Susitna River open seven days a week with normal regulations except an adjusted annual limit of two king salmon. Run assessment and possible closure decisions to be made in June.
- Keeping Lake Creek on the Yentna River open to retention of king salmon four days a week with normal regulations except an adjusted annual limit of two king salmon. Run assessment and possible closure decisions to be made in June.
“The glaring question is then, why is their (Palmer ADF&G’s) carefully thought out proposal being overturned by the administration in Anchorage? What data does The Commissioner have that the area biologists and area managers do not?,” Fight4Fish’s website posted in response to the emergency order.
“This makes it very difficult not to think there is something else behind this radical decision to override the Palmer office proposal.”