All concerned with Mat-Su and Upper Cook Inlet salmon fisheries and willing to participate in a dialogue with Alaska Department of FIsh and Game staff are invited to attend a public meeting.
DAY: Monday November 27, 2017
TIME: 5:30-7:30 PM
LOCATION: Fire Station 61
101 W Swanson Ave, Wasilla, AK 99654
(Corner of Swanson Avenue and Lucille Street in Wasilla)AGENDA: Introductions and then an opportunity for the department to summarize results of the Upper Cook Inlet commercial and Northern Cook Inlet sports fisheries, followed by an opportunity for Department staff to respond to a dozen questions that Mat-Su Borough Fish and Wildlife Commision members submitted last week.
Opportunities for comments by both Commision members and the public are scheduled near the end of the meeting. Invitations have been extended to all Mat-Su legislators and Assembly members.
ISSUE: Of particular concern to many Mat-Su Valley sport anglers was the limited and late opportunity for sport harvest of silver (coho) salmon this season, while the largest commercial drift coho harvests occurred earlier in the season during the last day of July and first week of August.
These large early drift harvests of coho salmon likely further retarded migration of coho into Mat-Su streams. Therefore while Department data indicates that the commercial drift gill net harvest of 186,000 coho was 63% greater than the recent 10-year average and the largest drift harvest of coho salmon since 2004, there is considerable doubt as to whether the Northern Cook Inlet sport fishery even achieved an average annual coho salmon harvest level in 2017.
Even though all 4 Northern Cook Inlet coho salmon spawning escapement goals were achieved or exceeded in 2017, the lack of reasonable inriver sport fish harvest opportunity throughout the early half of the season is a need that should be addressed. Since more sport angling for Mat-Su coho generally occurs in July and early August, lack of sufficient numbers of coho salmon in the fishery at that time can negatively affect a larger percentage of the economic and recreational benefits derived from the fishery. Come and learn what can be done about the situation. Meeting information taken from Andy Couch’s November 24, 2017 Frontiersman Newspaper column.In 2017 Commercial Nets Caught 294,002 Silver Salmon in Cook Inlet. Each season the Cook Inlet commercial fishing fleet scoops up thousands of northern bound silver salmon in their nets during the two weeks when most of the northern Cook Inlet bound coho salmon are migrating, it is devastating to our fishing and local economy. This will continue every year unless we act now and collectively tell them to stop.
Because of this tragic mismanagement, silver salmon returns to popular northern Cook Inlet fishing spots like Ship Creek, Little Susitna River, Jim Creek, Deshka River, Willow Creek, Sheep Creek, Montana Creek, Talkeetna River, Clear Creek and many other northern Cook Inlet fisheries are in danger of crashing. These are some of the most popular fishing spots in Alaska for locals and visitors alike. It is a shame that we don’t manage them better.
A plans have been put in place to keep this from happening which was designed to manage the Kenai River sockeye escapement and allow northern bound cohos to pass through. The Central District Drift Gillnet Fishery Management Plan was put in place to ensure “adequate escapement of salmon into the Northern District drainages, and to provide management guidelines to the department.”
They could easily catch Kenai River bound sockeye salmon AND avoid the intercept of northern bound silver salmon if they chose to follow this plan and move the driftnet fleet to the the expanded Kenai, expanded Kasilof, and Anchor Point sections (side of Cook Inlet where they know those sockeye are heading). However they refuse to follow these regulations and continually make excuses why they need to fish inlet wide in the Central District.
ACT NOW AND VOICE YOUR OPINION
Please use this simple form to express your concern and make a difference for upper Cook Inlet silver salmon fishing. Ask them to stop inlet wide drift gillnet fishing in the Central District and follow the intent of The Central District Drift Gillnet Fishery Management Plan.
When you send this form it will be copied to:
– Scott Kelly, Director of Division of Commercial Fisheries
– Sam Cotten, Alaska Department of Fish and Game Commissioner
– Tom Brookover, Director of Sport Fisheries
– Mark Neuman, Senator
– Shelley Hughes, Senator
– Mike Dunleavy, Senator
– David Wilson, Senator
– Bill Wielchowski, Senator
– David Eastman, Representative
– Les Gara, Representative
– DeLena Johnson, Representative
– Cathy Tilton, Representative
– George Rauscher, Representative
– Coleen Sullivan-Leonard, Representative