Kenai Borough mayor asks delegation to help restart economy on peninsula



Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce is looking toward summer and an eventual end to the shutdown of the coronavirus economy.

Pierce sent a letter to Sens. Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski, Congressman Don Young and Gov. Mike Dunleavy last week, requesting they ask the International Halibut Commission to restore the Southcentral 2020-2021 halibut sport fishing regulations to two halibut per person, per day, and seven days a week fishing allowed for charters, with multiple trips allowed per day.

Sports fishers used to be able to catch two halibut a day in the central Gulf of Alaska. Charter operators would take two groups of six a day — one in the morning, and one in the evening, for a total of 12 customers a day.

But in February, the International Halibut Commission cut the harvests in all areas in the Pacific Northwest to try to build up a dwindling fishery.

Area 3A (Central Gulf of Alaska) was set at one halibut per day for the coming season.

It’s not going to be enough to jumpstart the economy on the Kenai to just allow one halibut a day, Pierce said.

“The restoration of our economy following the COVID-19 pandemic is critical and affects all Alaskans,” Pierce wrote, reminding lawmakers that the halibut charters bring people to the stores, restaurants, hotels, and other businesses all over the peninsula and that tourism is one of the primary industries of the borough’s economy.

“All I’m asking them to do is, in light of the crisis we’re faced with, reconsider the rules, and delay them until 2021 or 2022,” he said.


  1. Mayor Charlie better hope that the Governor does not simply shut down both Charter boat and all other commercial fishing on Cook Inlet.
    Rumors are floating around that he is considering doing just that in Bristol Bay and in PWS. It is a little different in the Inlet because there are fewer social or close interactions among out of State stakeholders and processor employees. But the principal Is the same. Thousands of new people who have no clue about their “Rona” status and not being tested descending on the peninsula. Where are they going to be quarantined for the mandatory two weeks. All together? That would be smart. Not!
    The answer is not allowing one more halibut Mr. Mayor. The answer is to not keep a fishery open in the face of great risk to your people.

  2. Hey, didn’t the State just close Spring Bear hunting but then modified the order to exclude only non-resident hunters?
    The principal is in place with that decision. So, Mr. Mayor, it seems that resident Alaskans will fare very well this summer. Tourist related industries will take a hit as well Industrial Fishing, like Bristol Bay and Southeast. Suck it up and enjoy the solitude!

  3. First of all Mayor Charlie better educate himself. There were no changes to the private angler’s bag limit of two halibut per day. The commercial charter halibut fishery, along with the commercial halibut longline fishery however, did see significant changes based on resource abundance & economic considerations. It is unfortunate that every two bit, flunky politician is beginning to use the cover of Covid 19 to further their personal agendas.

    • “Under the proposal by Mayor Pierce there will still be a drop in Halibut catch of between 25%-35%. Out of state tourists account for about 55%-60% of the revenue and catch (charter). That is gone. The small business charters “may” survive if they can make up 20% of that. It is a win-win !” a thoughtful comment.

      SE is 1 per day. The KPB charters are limited to 5 days, one trip per day. You can go the the Homer Halibut Charter website and send letters to those you would like to see go bankrupt. They are real people, with lives and families, not to mention all the local B&B, restaurants, services in Seward, Homer and Ninilchik. It is time to worry about our neighbors and friends. Once the pandemic ends we must invite Alaskans to the KPB and help our economy.

  4. I’m sure the wonderful staff at all peninsula hospitals would like to see our leaders put their safety, as well as the fishing industry workers, above those of our eager politicians. Chances are pretty high that with an influx of out of state workers arriving to our great state, the virus numbers will increase as well. Hopefully, for all of us trying to quarantine to protect ourselves and others on the Kenai Peninsula, this will not be in vain.

  5. “…tourism is one of the primary industries of the borough’s economy.”
    The majority of charter boats and tourist shops are owned by outsiders, who reap the lions share of profits. All anyplace in Alaska gets are the scraps. What should Alaskan’s care about them?
    Do like some of the bush villages and totally ban anyone from outside. Let Alaskans fish all they want, but even then don’t be running around other people’s fishing ports Sell your fish if your commercial, fuel up, and have someone local shop for you. Stay on your boat, period!
    I’m 74 and hope to live a few years more. I don’t give a hoot about your precious economy, if it endangers my life.

    • A thriving economy on the Kenai Peninsula is essential to fund schools, hospitals, businesses, families, seniors, students, state workers, borough workers, city workers. It is paramount to get the Kenai Peninsula back to work. Seniors and the vulnerable will have to self isolate until a vaccine, treatments, therapies are found. All other segments of the population need to get on with their life, their business, raising and educating their families, paying taxes, practicing their religion, learning and earning.

      • Just whom do you think built Kenai’s economy? It sure wasn’t the Easter Bunny. It was your seniors. They worked all their lives, and left you something. Now you have the gall to kick them to the curb? To tell them just lay down, stay inside, Kenai doesn’t want you causing trouble?
        Kenai’s economy is vaporware. Outside fishermen take all their profits south and tourists spend very little in Alaska. It’s the retired seniors, and those on disability who stabilize Kenai’s economy. It’s their money that turns over ten times during your winter months.
        They’re the ones you run to for gas money in January. Their homes is where you couch-surf when you can’t pay rent.

        • Good lord, what a collection of self righteous old guys we have on here. If you don’t want to go out, then don’t go out. If you do, then use common sense and reasonable precautions. If Kenai is down to relying on seniors and those on disability for its local economy then we are in worse shape than I thought. Anyone out there trying to spark our economy right now has my vote, this thing has been blown so far out of proportion it is hard to believe.

          • Some drilling rigs, a refinery, state financed road upgrades, a hospital, some government workers, and a bunch who commute to the N. slope and elsewhere.
            What did I miss?

      • A tourist trap dependent on summer tourists, who take over the town, which is on life support every winter.
        Friends who live beyond the paved road system have told me about locally owned……and I’ve seen the place in summer and winter.
        As I said, a tourist trap with very little industry other than that.

  6. One commercial vessel will probably catch as many as or more halibut than twenty or more sport/charter vessels. A commercial vessel operates a few thousand baited hooks for halibut and “by-catch” (non-targeted but very edible fish that are thrown away as trash, by “law”). A sports charter operates one hook per person for halibut and the sports fishermen are required to keep, as part of their daily catch limit, any halibut 27 inches long (last I heard) or bigger. If anyone needs to have their ‘catch’ limited to recover the resource, it’s the commercial operators. 80% plus, commercial halibut, salmon, herring, groundfish/rockfish, cod and black cod fishing vessels are owned by non-Alaskans/Americans and, for most, their ‘catch’ is taken out of Alaska to be processed by non-Alaskans and sold to foreign markets. Alaska receives no income from the out of state vessels or their crew (except for a few binges while visiting an Alaskan port), yet the group of non-resident fishermen fund lobbyists at the state and federal level to over-ride Alaskans (the halibut commission is federal) and enable feds to ensure the foreigners/non-residents continued dominance of Alaskan fisheries for them. There is where the real action should be taken. It all comes back to the nemesis of America/Alaskan fishermen, private and commercial. Foreigners and non-residents calling our shots in our fisheries. The left is happy to continue this practice. Lots of political “contributions” are thrown around. Again, American/Alaskan citizens get the shaft.

    • Hey Einstein – charter boats are a significant part of the commercial halibut fishing fleet nowadays.

      • Hi FFF,
        I believe the charter boats themselves are commercial. The ‘day’ fishermen/clients that hire them are required to fish under sports fishing rules and regulations, not commercial. Sports fishery is competitive with commercial for “fair share” of the resource. Maybe that’s how you developed your “theory of reality”.

        • Charter boats are registered as “commercial” because they are used in business and the fees are much higher, just like a pick up truck used for deliveries.

          Were not talking about cruise ships here, it is boats owned by small mom and pop business.

          • Your pickup truck analogy unfortunately shows you know as much about the commercial charter halibut fishery as Mayor Charlie. They have been under federal management for awhile now. A 6 passenger halibut charter permit will set you back 65k, the boats maybe 150k, the larger boats and bigger permits will cost you a lot more. They are very efficient at harvesting halibut. 1.8 million pounds in just the Gulf Coast coastal waters ( area 3A). Most of their clientele is from out of state. They are an industrial fishery. You would have to be smoking a ton of pot to compare them to a pickup truck hauling couches to the dump for twenty bucks.

      • Charter boats are registered as “commercial” because they are categorized as business and the license fees are much higher.

  7. The majority of charters on the KPB are owned by local Alaskans. The Mayor is encouraging Alaskans to come to the Kenai Peninsula.

  8. Pierce is just fishing for votes.

    He doesn’t even know what he’s talking about let alone who to ask to make the changes he wants.

    He’s just grandstanding, it’s what he does best.

    He thinks the issue will bring out the ‘grievance vote’….

  9. Every plane that leaves Alaska in the summer will have multiple groups of guys who have come north to fish. Each of those is taking home 50-100 pounds of processed fish. Charter fish should be counted in the commercial quota. It gets harder every year to catch enough fish to feed our family.

    • Amen – how about we start implementing Local Area Management Plans( LAPS ) in State waters. We can start in Kachemak Bay – no commercial halibut charters from Point Pogibshi to Anchor Point. Stop local halibut depletion.

  10. Sounds like a lot of “all for me, none for thee”. That’s not the Alaskan way. Everyone that legally sport fishes for any publicly owned fish has the same right to those fish. We don’t own the sea or the fish in it. Some folks think we do. Each and every fisherman that leaves Alaska with their 50-100 pounds of fish has shelled out thousands of dollars to do so. They fly into Alaska, stay in hotels, B&B’s, lodges, etc. They drive locally rented vehicles, eat Alaskan made and cooked food, buy moderately expensive charter boat tickets and pay about 200 percent more for a few days license to fish. They buy clothes, fishing gear, everything an Alaskan would buy because that’s what’s needed here. You should see the Bering Sea at night. Looking in any direction when offshore, it’s like a gigantic city of lights from the catcher/processor vessels. Every country in the world with a maritime fleet of fishing vessels can be found in the Bering Sea fishery. It’s unbelievable, the mass of boats of every size, each with nets, traps, trawls, hooks and pots that are scouring the ocean for most any edible species that can be found. If any fishery should be “owned” by any group of people, it’s the Bering Sea and Alaska should own it. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. As much as we would like to own it, it’s not going to happen. Alaskans living along the coastal areas from the Arctic Ocean to Annette Island (a southern most Alaskan island) just don’t realize how fortunate they are to have the northern Pacific bounty right at their doorstep. Those fisherfolk from elsewhere are buying their share of the Alaskan experience, for a hefty price. If that was available anywhere else, they wouldn’t come here. At least not as prolifically. We should be glad for what we have and be willing to share nature’s bounty (to a point). There are a lot more fish than halibut in the ocean. Did you know that halibut or any fish without scales or crustaceans are not considered kosher? I’m not Jewish. Just a bit of trivia.

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