The Alaska Board of Fisheries will be meeting next week in Kodiak to consider a number of regulatory changes for commercial, sport and subsistence fishing. The board meets regularly around the state to consider proposals brought by individuals and organizations seeking to revise the rules codified by the Department of Fish and Game and enforced by wildlife troopers.A link to the document listing the proposals is here .
Appearing on the agenda is a proposal to legalize trolling for coho for the first time since 1965. Similar proposals have come before the board as recently as 2008 but failed. Proponents of trolling say the declining value of Kodiak’s salmon fishery requires allowing this gear type. But department staff say allowing trolling could cause treaty issues with Canada under the Pacific Salmon Treaty of 1985.
Another proposal would allow for more time for pink salmon fishing in Kodiak’s northwest district. Fish and Game staff are opposed, saying they fear for the health of late-run sockeye. They argue that new regulations would require monitoring that would be burdensome for managers.
Another proposal would allow set netters to catch coho salmon after August 15th. Daily reporting would be required and the fishery would be closed if a cumulative catch of 15,000 pinks and/or late-run sockeye were taken. Fish and Game staff are also opposed to this proposal.
A plan to prohibit Kodiak’s seine fleet from retaining chinook salmon until the Karluk and Ayakulik rivers have met their escapement goal for three consecutive years, will also be considered. But state fishery managers argue that current efforts to conserve kings closer to spawning grounds is a more effective strategy than any blanket ban on retention across management districts.
Of interest to sportfishermen is a proposal to open the American and Olds rivers to anglers fishing for hatchery kings upstream of the Chiniak Highway. The opening would be from August 1st and September 15th and has the support of department staff. That said, state biologists caution that the sportfishery would be managed by emergency order and shut down if wild coho escapement suffers.
Another proposal would allow subsistence users to catch sockeye salmon with dipnets at Settler’s Creek at Port Lions. Currently only gillnets and seine nets are legal. Also considered would be revising the reporting requirement of subsistence fishermen to log their catch before leaving the site rather than having to write down each individual fish as it is caught.
The board will also be asked to prohibit a holder of a salmon permit from skippering in one region and crewing in another. Critics of the current policy complain that a loophole allows individuals to fish in multiple districts.
Draggers will take note of a proposal to close Sitkalidak Strait and Marmot Bay to the trawl fleet. The move would be to conserve chinook salmon and crab species taken as bycatch by the trawl fleet and help these species to recover for subsistence fishing for halibut and other groundfish.
In all, there are 30 different proposals. The meeting begins Tuesday the 11th and runs to Friday the 14th at the Kodiak Harbor Convention Center.