A plan designed to repair the chinook salmon run on the Karluk River will impose new restrictions for seiners and trawlers fishing near the mouth of that river. During their meeting last week in Kodiak, the Alaska Board of Fisheries adopted an action plan designed for the conservation of kings which have seen dwindling returns in recent years.
The new regulation empowers state biologists to trigger restrictions when escapement numbers fall below pre-set targets. This would require commercial sockeye fishermen to immediately return any chinooks greater than 28 inches long that are caught in seine nets. The regulation will be in effect through August 1st. The restricted area is in state waters, three miles from shore and extends more than 30 miles on the western side of Kodiak Island.
But some critics complained the provisions did not include sportfishing charter boats which will be exempt from the non-retention rule to be imposed on seiners. And the board’s decision to tack on an amendment to completely ban trawling in an 18-square mile area around the mouth of the Karluk River led board member John Jensen of Petersburg to oppose the plan.
Jensen cast the lone dissenting vote.
Trawlers did score a victory after proposals to close Sitkalidak [sitka-lidik] Strait and Marmot Bay to the trawl feet were defeated. Also unsuccessful was a proposal to allow trolling for salmon for the first time since 1965.
Proposals that passed included allowing dip netting in Settler’s Creek near Port Lions. A sportfishing license would be required. Also of interest to sportfishermen, the American and Olds rivers will be open for kings from August 1st through September 15th.
The board also amended subsistence regulations so that fishermen are now required to log their catch when they are finished for the day. Regulations previously had required fishermen to log each individual fish after it was caught.
The board also added language to regulations banning the practice of fishing lodge owners feeding their paying customers with fish that had been caught for subsistence. This rule change follows similar tightening of restrictions imposed on lodges on the Nushagak River in Bristol Bay.
The Board of Fisheries revisits fishing regulations in each area of the state every three years. Groups and individuals can bring proposals for consideration. In all, more than 30 proposals were considered.