Drift fleet battles tides, winds, questionable management

I read “Winding down” (Sept. 7 Peninsula Clarion) and in particular “Cook inlet drift fleet critical of new management restrictions.”

Last February the Alaska Board of Fish passed two board generated re-allocation proposals the last two hours of a two week long meeting. Then they brought out a retirement cake for Lance Nelson. Vice-chair Klubberton, former chairman of the Mat-Su Blue Ribbon Fisheries Committee, authored the proposal to take more area away from the drift fleet. Klubberton’s vision of a “Bristol Bay Style Fishery” is blatantly incongruent considering upper Cook Inlet tides and river terminals plugged with dip netters. The board of fish failed in their own protocol/mandate to consider the economic impact of the new restrictions which further limit access to red salmon as well as chums and copious pink salmon. A simple disclaimer read into a record is not acceptable.

The drift fleet already lost Area Two, once called the golden triangle from Kenai River, 60:32, to North Kalgin, and up to the Forelands. To quote an old politician, “a cruel hoax has been perpetrated against us!” The fleet is now restricted to little boxes with no fish present. While sockeyes stage in the middle of the inlet prior to entering the rivers, the fleet is restricted to narrow corridors along the east side. One percent of the fishery is regulating most of the fishery.

In February drifters asked for two 12-hour openings a week, which left over five days for fish to pass through. This would still function better than the board generated re-allocation proposal. So much for the mendacious Mr. Klubberton and his Bristol Bay Style Management. This is Cook Inlet, second biggest tides in the world. The fleet battles wind and tide and a questionable board process all of which have resulted in a greatly reduced area. The drift fleet cannot be held hostage to the lack of stewardship and production in the Mat-Su.