ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) – The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has closed all gillnet fishing in the Kenai, Kasilof and East Forelands sections of the Upper Cook Inlet after low numbers of large king salmon.
It is the third year in a row that the department has closed the fishery, with Ken Coleman saying it is becoming a pressure on some of those setting gillnets for a living.
“We watch the fish jump, watch everyone have a good time doing what they’re doing, and we all lose money,” Coleman said.
This closure is having a collective impact on businesses as it is a chain reaction effect across the region.
“All of these things that we use as tools, buying groceries, fuel, all of these things are part of our business and then these industries don’t get any revenue from us, which is irreplaceable. It’s a very difficult situation,” Coleman said.
The Kenai River Late King Salmon Management Plan, used by Fish and Game, states that if the predicted escapement of large late king salmon is less than 15,000 fish, the department will close the commercial gillnet fishery in the sub. -upper district.
According to Fish and Game, as of July 15, the late passage of large Kenai River king salmon was estimated at 2,352 fish. The projected final escapement is less than 15,000 fish.
“We’re trying to find ways to make it work, and we’re hoping the Fish and Game commissioner will find a way or get out of the management plan to allow limited harvests.”
The department said projections show escapement numbers remain well below their respective minimums, for its seasonal management goals.
Adding that it does not appear that large late run king salmon will reach acceptable levels without significant restrictions on all fisheries exploiting this stock.
Fish and Game said if king salmon abundance improves, fisheries could reopen.
But Brian Marston, who is with the department and checks the number of breakaways at least once a day, said it doesn’t look like he’ll be opening anytime soon.
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