Board of Fisheries Votes Down Cook Inlet Agenda Change Request

Sockeye running up the Kenai River to spawn. (Photo by Kentaro Yasui / Flickr)

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

The Alaska Board of Fisheries has rejected an agenda change request that would have moved up the discussion of a Cook Inlet claim on sockeye salmon in the Kodiak management area.

That’s according to Kodiak resident Duncan Fields, who was at the board’s work session Thursday and was involved in the local response the last time the issue came up in the 1980s.

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The next time the board is slated to review the issue is in 2020 in Kodiak, along with other Kodiak-related matters.

If the board had accepted the agenda change request, Fields says it would have considered the claim this year or next, most likely outside the Kodiak area.

He says the Board of Fisheries only grants agenda change requests if there’s new information, an error in regulation, or a conservation concern.

In this case, he says, the board’s vote was 7-0 against the request.

“The consensus of the board after discussion was that, yes, there were some conservation issues embedded in this issue, but as a conservation concern, it didn’t rise to the level of accepting the agenda change out of cycle.”

The Cook Inlet claim followed a genetic study the Department of Fish and Game released in 2016 showing fishermen are catching Cook Inlet fish in Kodiak waters.

Sometime after, the United Cook Inlet Drift Association asked the Board of Fisheries to consider a cap on commercial sockeye in the Kodiak area.

Since Kodiak bases its management plan on run health, local leaders said such a limit would be “disastrous” for the regional salmon fisheries.

Fields says local groups now have more time to prepare for when the claim comes before the Board of Fisheries.

Unless fishermen submit another agenda change request, that will be in the regular cycle time of January 2020.

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