The Kenai Peninsula College Main Entrance on Aug. 18, 2022 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

The Kenai Peninsula College Main Entrance on Aug. 18, 2022 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Beyond counting fish

Salmon panel set for next KPC Showcase

Salmon will be the topic of the next Kenai Peninsula College Showcase, hosted in partnership with Trout Unlimited Alaska at the university on Wednesday, starting at 5 p.m.

Called “State of the Salmon” the event will feature both a presentation by Associate Professor Dr. Peter Westley from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and a panel discussion featuring Westley, Cook Inletkeeper Science Director Sue Mauger and Department of Fish and Game Biologist Adam Reimer.

Westley said Friday that the discussion would center on pressing issues facing salmon, as well as the ongoing research to understand those issues.

Some of the information shared, he said, would be to empower attendees to identify where they can find their own reliable information about what’s going on with salmon.

Contrast will be drawn between locations like Bristol Bay — which Westley said is experiencing record-breaking runs — to areas like the Yukon that are in collapse.

The University of Alaska, Westley said, is focused on research. That means he brings a perspective different from that of the biologists at Fish and Game, who focus on monitoring and ensuring sustainability.

Westley said that there are bright spots in the outlook for salmon in Alaska.

“If you contrast Alaska to where salmon are struggling in other places — Alaska still has a lot of our options on the table,” he said. “Our habitat remains in pretty good shape and we have made choices that other places haven’t that should be benefiting salmon. We still have the opportunity in front of us for salmon to thrive.”

But, he said, there are also challenges that folks need to be realistic about.

Part of Westley’s conversation, he said, is to examine how we measure the “value” of salmon beyond just the number of fish or the pounds harvested.

“How do we assess the fate of Alaska salmon and argue that it needs to go beyond just counting the number of fish?” he said.

The KPC Showcase and Trout Unlimited presentation of State of the Salmon will be held Wednesday in the KPC commons, starting at 5 p.m. For more information, visit “Kenai Peninsula College Showcase” on Facebook.

Reach reporter Jake Dye at

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