A month after the Alaska Board of Fisheries made substantive changes to portions of the Kenai River Late-Run King Salmon Management Plan, two commercial setnet fishing organizations have filed emergency petitions seeking relief from and clarification of portions of the new regulations.
The Kenai Peninsula Fishermen’s Association, or KPFA, and the South K B-Beach Independent Fishermen’s Association, SOKI, filed petitions during the Board of Fisheries Statewide King and Tanner Crab and supplemental issues meeting in Anchorage.
The KPFA petition and amendment suggests that the Board of Fisheries limited public process and active participation by board members who did not have time to access all the documentation required to make an informed decision.
“This is an urgent matter as provisions of this modified plan require considerable expenditures estimated in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and in the tens of thousands to individuals who wish to participate,” according to the petition.
The petition also questions the goals, or numbers of king or sockeye salmon in the Kenai and Kasilof rivers area fisheries managers aim to meet, and whether the goals and management actions linked to those goals are based on sound scientific data.
“Managers will now have to consider three goals that are based only on highly subjective evaluations based on unproven methods that are in question,” according to the petition.
The SOKI petitions found here and here ask the board to address an “equitable opportunity to harvest sockeye” between the Kenai and Kasilof rivers which have seperate sockeye runs; the group also ask that the board consider the true “cost to participate” for East Side Setnet fishers as some have had difficulty finding setnet gear to match new size restrictions adopted by the Board of Fisheries during its Upper Cook Inlet meeting earlier this year.
“A considerable amount of time is necessary to hang this type of gear and with a June estimate of arrival it would be impossible to re-hang or re-tool the 1800 or so nets that are used by the 445 average eastside permit holders per year,” according to the petition. “Many of us have spares and as many has three per location to support a sudden destructive issue with your current net.”
Board of Fisheries policy requires that the board give consideration to emergency petitions during the meeting in which they are filed, said Board Chairman Karl Johnstone.
The consideration he gave, Johnstone said, was to contact Alaska Department of Fish and Game staff and request staff comments on the emergency petitions.
“I’ve been assured by staff that we’ll get our staff comments by next Thursday,” Johnstone said.
After those comments are disseminated among board members and opportunity would be provided within 24 hours will vote and decide if the board will take up any of the emergency petitions, Johnstone said.