Big changes are coming to the Kenai River this summer.
The Alaska Board of Fisheries on Wednesday approved new ways to protect precariously low numbers of late-run Kenai kings that members say splits the burden between sport anglers and commercial setnet fishermen.
The decision to tweak the Kenai River late-run king salmon plan, one of the most anticipated actions of a two-week session at Anchorage's Egan Center, came in a 6-1 vote and adds several new tools to existing rules.
The Alaska Board of Fisheries, which is meeting in Anchorage Jan. 31 through Feb. 13, is wrestling with a number of issues related to salmon management, including the best way to manage king salmon on the Kenai River.
The new Dutch Harbor state-waters Pacific cod fishery will officially open next week. That’s as the federal Pacific cod season comes to a close Tuesday. The Department of Fish and Game is closing the federal Pacific cod season in the Bering Sea-Aleutian Islands area for catcher vessels under 60 feet fishing with hook-and-line or pot gear. That means the parallel state-waters fishery for boats 58 feet and under fishing with pot gear is also closing. Both fisheries end at noon on Tuesday. With that fishery at its quota, the new Dutch Harbor subdistrict, or DHS, is clear to open on Feb.
Freezing the historical record for the Kodiak-area pot cod fishery is up for discussion this week in Seattle. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council has a discussion about the pot cod fleet on its agenda this week at its Seattle meeting, although it's not scheduled to take any action at that meeting.
Commercial and sport fishermen bitterly divided over the allocation of diminishing Kenai Peninsula king salmon returns will take their concerns to the Alaska Board of Fisheries, which began two weeks of meetings Friday.
Anglers want restrictions on commercial fishing to protect the livelihood of guides, hotels and other businesses that cater to fishermen seeking to catch a king with a rod and reel.
King salmon are the lynchpin of the Cook Inlet fishery. Other runs of other salmon species are far more abundant, but the health of king salmon affects all users.
Alaska is currently experiencing historic low runs of king salmon returning to major systems throughout the state. It affects Alaskans who have fished for kings for years in these rivers and creeks, and the visitors thousands of businesses depend on every summer.
King salmon are the lynchpin of the Cook Inlet fishery. Other runs of other salmon species are far more abundant, but the health of king salmon affects all users. Alaska is currently experiencing historic low runs of king salmon returning to major systems throughout the state. It affects Alaskans who have fished for kings for years in these rivers and creeks, and the visitors thousands of businesses depend on every summer.
State fisheries research biologists are forecasting a run of 6.1 million sockeye salmon into Upper Cook Inlet in 2013, with a harvest of 4.3 million reds. That's good news for harvesters in all user groups, who landed 3.5 million sockeyes this year, compared to the preseason harvest forecast of 4.9 million fish. And that forecasted harvest is 0.6 million fish above the 20-year average harvest of 3.7 million reds by all user groups.
In a chilly building across Cook Inlet from the white pyramid of Mount Redoubt rest a few dozen plastic-lined cardboard totes filled to the brim with an amber liquid. Each chest-high cube holds about a ton of fish oil extracted this summer from the heads of salmon. It's a product that would have been lost to the Kenai River if Pat Simpson had not recovered it.
NMFS said it will implement a catch sharing plan for the 2014 commercial and charter halibut fisheries in Southeast Alaska and the Central Gulf of Alaska. The catch sharing plan was recommended by the North Pacific Management Council to replace the existing guideline harvest level management plan, which had been criticized for not preventing fishing overages when charter fishing had increased in the region in the late 1990s.
An unfortunate nap caused the destruction of a fishing boat and fuel spill the night of Halloween, but no injuries were reported to the crew of the crabber that crashed ashore within sight of Dutch Harbor. The crab boat Arctic Hunter ran aground outside of Unalaska last week after the captain fell asleep at the wheel, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.
Kodiak will not take Alaska’s halibut title for a second year. With 97 percent of the halibut quota in the central Gulf used, Homer has landed 4.39 million pounds of halibut to Kodiak’s 3.38 million. The halibut season ends Nov. 15, and just under 339,000 pounds of halibut quota remains in the central Gulf of Alaska. Statewide, 20.53 million pounds of the state’s 21.81 million-pound quota have been taken. After Homer and Kodiak, the state’s biggest halibut ports are Seward (2.74 million pounds), Dutch Harbor (1.43 million pounds) and Sitka, (1.17 million pounds).
The thousands of cargo ships that sail through Unimak Pass will soon meet nasty fall storms. As a port of refuge, Unalaska is where they will go in emergencies -- and the city's new emergency mooring buoy is where they'll tie up. But as KUCB’s Ben Matheson reports, the buoy is going to need some support of its own.
A decision by a successful salmon processor who opted to sell his business and move into the Pacific cod fishery is being hailed as a boost for Adak's economy by the Aleut Enterprise LLC and the city of Adak. Aleut Fisheries, a wholly owned subsidiary of Aleut Enterprise LLC, has signed 20-year lease with John Lowrance, president of Adak Cod Cooperative, to operate the Adak seafood processing facility.
The one-boat-at-a-time bait herring fishery around Kodiak Island opened today (Friday) at 10 a.m. The guideline harvest level in the two open districts is 99 tons for the South Afognak District and 180 tons in the Uganik District. The districts will remain open until further notice and be closed by emergency order by Fish and Game or when they reach their respective GHL. In an announcement today, Fish and Game says the Eastside District could open if there is interest in harvesting its 175 ton GHL.