Big boats, motors a danger in dipnet fishery

As usual, another politician shoots off his mouth without gathering the facts. In your Clarion article Dec. 4, “Kenai reviews dipnet season,” Kenai City Manager Rick Koch stated “The (swamped boats) that I’m aware of shouldn’t have been in the water in the first place.” He went on to say, “what’s dangerous are boats that have no business being there in the first place with people driving them that have no idea what they are doing.”

I am a 74 year old man who grew up on a river that dumped into a large bay. I began operating a skiff when I was six years old. I learned at that time that the captain of a craft was responsible for the boat’s wake. My friends and I have been dipnetting on he Kenai River for sixteen years and until last season had never had a problem with wake from other boats. In the last few years I have seen 26-foot boats with twin 250hp engines and the thunder jet boats from up north enter the fishery.

Would Mr. Koch say that an 18-foot Klamath skiff is too small to fish in the fishery? My friend had an 18-foot Klamath and had told me he has taken on water from the wake of other boats. My boat was swamped with three people on board and only about 10 fish. Two of the people on board the skiff have been water men most of their lives, one was once a commercial fisherman.

After we received assistance from some thoughtful fishermen in a seine skiff and were towed to the Kenai dock by a fire rescue boat, I spoke with the Coast Guard, City Fire Rescue, and Park Service Rangers, who all agreed that someone will be killed if something is not done. After the incident, I spoke with the Kenai Police Chief, Soldotna Police Chief, Coast Guard, Alaska Fish and Wildlife Troopers, Alaska Fish and Game and submitted a proposal to the Board of Fish asking them to take necessary steps to stop the chaos on the river. Almost everyone with whom I spoke agreed that if something is not done someone will die.