Salmon Work Group Reestablishing to Defend Possible Cook Inlet Claims on Sockeye

logo-w-sunburstKayla Desroches/KMXT

The Kodiak Island Borough Assembly agreed to help fund the newly revitalized Salmon Work Group at its regular meeting Thursday night.

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The borough will set aside $7,500 for the work group, which seiner Oliver Holm is a member of.

Holm says the group’s formation is a response to an Alaska Department of Fish and Game genetic study which found many Kodiak area sockeye salmon may have come from Cook Inlet streams.

He says the Salmon Work Group addressed a similar issue in the 90s and while the group dissolved for a while, they’re back.

“To work collectively to address the potential attack on the Kodiak salmon fishery by various people in Cook Inlet that was triggered this time by a genetic stock identification report.”

It’s caused such concern among both Kodiak and Cook Inlet fishermen that Holm says the Alaska Board of Fisheries added the issue to its agenda for its October meeting.

He says some of the funds the Salmon Work Group raises may go toward hiring experts to make sure the genetic study is accurate. They may also need professional assistance to help members prepare for the Board of Fisheries meeting.

“During the summer, most all of us will be shortly going off fishing and fishing until the end of August, early September, so we need some help to get the ball rolling here, ‘cause it’ll be very difficult to do all that work after the fishing season, ‘cause the board of fish meeting will be coming up so soon.”

Assemblyman Scott Smiley made the same point at last night’s regular meeting in response to a proposed amendment that would have spread funding over two years.

“[They] have to start right away on getting the authorities to look at – people with genetic authority – to look at the salmon paper, and if we just try to redevelop their plan, it’s just gonna take time that we don’t have.”

Others in the room, like Assemblywoman Rebecca Skinner, said the fishermen should find the money elsewhere.

“If you look at the small amount, it makes me wonder, if this is so important, why these funds could not be raised from within the multiple groups that are working on this issue.”

Holm says some local groups have promised to commit money, and meanwhile, he hopes the City of Kodiak will match the borough’s funds.

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