Craig Medred: Unhappy fishermen in Cook Inlet

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By CRAIG MEDRED

KENAI – Friday found the beaches at the mouth of Alaska’s most fought-over river woefully short of dipnetters willing to help stop the possible “over-escapement” of sockeye salmon so feared by the commercial fishermen of Cook Inlet.

Meanwhile, the commercial fishermen themselves, or at least their official representatives, were meeting with a state court judge to demand a reversal of an Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s decision to close setnet fisheries to protect a struggling run of Chinook salmon.

Carl Bauman, the attorney representing them, wanted a temporary restraining order (TRO) imposed on Commissioner of Fish and Game Doug Vincent Lang because he has, according to Bauman’s court filings, “violated so many points of applicable federal and state laws (constitutional, statutory, regulatory, and case law)” that there is a need for “TRO and injunctive
relief to the Court to stop the continuing harm.”

Bauman’s went on to list all the bad things Vincent-Lang has done, the most interesting of them being the suggestion that Vincent-Lang and the state Board of Fisheries have violated the interstate commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution by allowing the dipnet fishery to help provide food security for ordinary Alaskans.

“Does the Board have the authority to establish a new and expanding fishery for Alaska-resident-only, personal-use (dipnetting) that is at odds with Alaska Statute 16.43, CFEC, which has decimated the interstate commerce and the commercial fishery that CFEC was established to protect,” Bauman’s TRO filing asked.

All this acronym-laced gobbledegook will here need some unpacking for the average reader…

Read this column in its entirety at CraigMedred.news.

25 COMMENTS

  1. Keep it up and the commercial fisherman will be gone soon enough. There won’t be any fish to catch.

    I remember as a kid salmon fishing on the Kenai and Russian rivers with my dad. More than once he landed a king nearly as long as he was tall.

    Those days are over. Since the commercial fishing people refuse to restrain themselves, they’ll kill their own golden goose.

    • MA – when you say commercial fisherman are you referring to the industrial commercial sportfishing guides who target the largest king salmon breeding stock on their spawning beds? Back when you were a kid the Kenai Kings were not in jeopardy & the Cook Inlet commercial salmon fishery was in its heyday. Of course, that was when the salmon fishery was managed by science, not politics!

      • How about instead of a bunch of federal money sucking gillnetters banging around in their little boats acting like tough Alaskans for a month or two before they head south again for the winter. How about we get rid of said gillnetters who ship 90 percent of their catch to Japan “because that’s top dollar”. How about we quit giving commercial fishermen breaks on dock fees, breaks at the pump, then federal money if they have a “bad season”. Half you guys are fishing on your free permits and now are trying to retire so you are putting those “free permits” on the market and complaining that the younger generation doesn’t want to work. Because they aren’t willing to spend 100 grand on your free permit.

      • I think it’s pretty clear who he meant “fishing for food”. It’s comical how the commercial fishermen over fish for 100 years then try to pass the blame to someone else. Start paying your own way in life gillnappers and get a real job please.

    • Masked,
      I too remember fishing with Dear Old Dad.
      We fished Kings in the Deshka not long after Statehood. We were issued a white card allowing each fisherman 1 King per year, including Jack’s.
      Now I see folks dipnetting 25 salmon a day?
      Seems like the fish have rebounded despite a commercial fishery.

    • Agree. The King run has been going down for a decade and the commercial fishermen appear oblivious to this fact. Stop being so greedy at the expense of the salmon runs. Based on the greed, it is doubtful the King run will ever make a comeback. Very sad. It reminds me of the old adage “Pigs get fed and hogs get slaughtered”. The greed will eventually push the commercial fishermen out of jobs.

  2. Thank you for linking to this, Suzanne.

    Craig Medred’s post is a must read for anyone participating in the Cook Inlet charter halibut fishery.

  3. Citizens need for food come before any industry in Alaska article 8 § 1,2,3,4,5,15 the resourses belong to the people not the state they did not create the fish, rivers or moose (nor do they pay any deductible when they jump in front of someone’s car) and as such the people have first right and the state is to manage under sustained yield principles so you commercial fisherman need to back off your industry is collapsing and you need to think of whats next for you and your financial needs instead of sending lawyers to fight the average citizens in need of food for their families

    • I totally agree the commercial fishing industry has hurt the fish in Alaska. They need to be cut in half for a start. In PWS myself and others have been pushed out of fishing spots because the commercial fleet says they have the right over me to fish in the space We we’re fishing in.

      • What a crybaby Mark. The gillnet fleet has certain areas in the Sound and they also have limited openers during the week. They will fish inside these areas during their openers and you aren’t being pushed out-why would you want to stick around when the fish are netted out. That’s right you just choose to leave. Try fishing your spot before their openers.
        What a whiner.

        • Smarty I was there before they were. The boat came over 2 miles right to where I was fishing. Don’t assume your the smart one.

          • You clearly have no idea about commercial fishing. You got corked plain and simple. Tell it to the judge. Heheh!
            It’s a free ocean and gillnetters do have some unwritten rules about how much room to give other gillnetters however, there are no rules when it comes to pukers.
            As I said before, do your fishing in a gillnet area before their openers and quit whining.

        • You know nothing about fishing rights. Your related to the commercial fishing if I had to guess. You did not read or understand what occurred and I said so go back to school. By the way I have fished PWS for over 30 years. You go preach to different wind.

          • What are these fishing rights you speak of Mark? You still think you were somehow harmed here? I gillnetted in PWS for 25 years and have been retired for about 10.
            Quit whining!

    • Food for Families? I see lots of smokes and beer down there and all the expense to fish. Food for families? Cheaper to buy at the store. How many have said to me when they want to buy something you have for sale over the years? Need any fish? My Lord, what a scam!

  4. Mid-water trawling, particularly the pollock sac-roe fishery is what’s killing off king salmon in Alaska…indeed, all rivers that support kings. Kings swim with pollock when they are about the same size as the pollock. Maybe two or three years at sea. When the fishery is open, thousands of kings are scooped up with the pollock.
    Pollock wasn’t targeted until the collapse of the hake fishery down south in the early eighties. By the middle eighties, hake fishers were relocating to Alaska for pollock.
    That’s about the time we started seeing declines in king runs.
    These mid-water trawlers, not the bottom daggers, are/were catching thousands of pounds of salmon bycatch. What I saw in the early to mid nineties was thousands of mostly king salmon at delivery at processor’s docks…every vessel, every delivery. This went on every year. Mostly during the pollock sac-roe fishery.
    High sea interception must be stopped if we want to save our Kings.

    • Bill yank me? How much was your gillnetter permit when you bought it? How much did you sell it for? Or did you retire on a 401 k? How much federal and state assistance did you get in your 25 years of gillnetting?it’s a washed up way to make a living and it’s been dying for decades. Gillnetters just can’t seem to figure it out.

  5. How about this Ken. Instead of all these Anchorage people coming down to the Kenai in their 60K trucks towing their 80k camper and/or 20k 4wheelers to dipnet for survival. Why don’t we have the Commercial user group donate a percent of the catch to place in a food bank for pickup. That way all these poor starving anchorage people wont need to bring down their 100k toys and demand the river system be politically managed for massive over escapement and biological degradation. It’s a win-win, We can go back to sound biology, probably save the river system, feed Alaskans and keep the vital industry of Commercial Fishing alive.

    • Its still a SHARED resource, not managed for the exclusive benefit of commfish. Solution is fish farming, growing the pie rather than engaging in increasingly bitter fights over a dwindling resource. The more salmon raised onshore (RAS systems), the more commfish nets out of the water, the more salmon will make it into the streams. That way, you guys remain in the business of catching fish. If you want to quickly be out of the business of catching fish, keep doing what you are currently doing.

      Happily, you drifters are busily carving off the set netters, who will join with the other user groups to bring a solution to this problem. We will be able to say that even commfish agrees with this new direction. Well played, Sir. Well played. Cheers –

    • How about instead of a bunch of federal money sucking gillnetters banging around in their little boats acting like tough Alaskans for a month or two before they head south again for the winter. How about we get rid of said gillnetters who ship 90 percent of their catch to Japan “because that’s top dollar”. How about we quit giving commercial fishermen breaks on dock fees, breaks at the pump, then federal money if they have a “bad season”. Half you guys are fishing on your free permits and now are trying to retire so you are putting those “free permits” on the market and complaining that the younger generation doesn’t want to work. Because they aren’t willing to spend 100 grand on your free permit.

  6. The Peruvian coastal anchovy fisheries crashed in the 1970s after overfishing.
    The collapse of the cod fishery off Newfoundland, is a dramatic example of the consequences of overfishing.
    The sole fisheries in the Irish Sea, the west English Channel, and other locations have become overfished to the point of virtual collapse,
    Overfishing of the critically endangered Pacific bluefin tuna has resulted in the few still caught selling for astronomical prices.
    New England lobster, Cape Cod cod. East coast shrimp: just a few more over-fished by who? Fishermen of course. Its the greediest of fishermen who habitually destroy their own livelihood.
    Then they want us taxpayers to foot the bill for hatcheries?

  7. Put live video cameras on trawler fleet
    And you guys will see the big problem. Our management allowed trawler fleet to fish inside the sound. They destroy thousands of rockfish and other bycatch. When it comes to kings its not gillnet or dipnetters at fault its the trawler fleet and they are not observed.

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