A declining king salmon escapement projection on the Kenai River has restricted the commercial sockeye fishery to 36 hours until the Aug. 15 end of the season, 12 of which will be used today in a regularly-scheduled fishing period.
In an Aug. 5 notice, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced an Aug. 6 commercial sockeye window between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m. The release also announced the 36-hour sockeye fishing time restriction.
According to the Kenai River king salmon management plan, the commercial sockeye fishery may be limited to no more than 36 hours in August if the escapement projection is between 16,500 and 22,500 king salmon.
The Aug. 5 announcement stated that Kenai king salmon escapement projections have been declining every day since July 26. Fish and Game estimates the king salmon in-river run at 18,136 as of Aug. 4. The sockeye drift and setnet fleets will now have 24 hours of fishing time to be allotted among regular periods on Aug. 8, 9, 10, and 13.
Previously, Kenai River commercial manager Pat Shields said it was unclear whether the 36 hours of August fishing time would be counted from the date of restriction or from the first of the month. As of Aug. 5, the fleet had been in the water 45 hours this month in three 15-hour periods.
By opening the Aug. 6 period, Fish and Game and the Alaska Department of Law have concluded that the 36-hour restriction kicks in after the king salmon escapement projection is made, and prior fishing periods do not count against that limit. The restrictions come only weeks after Fish and Game loosened sport and commercial restrictions related to Kenai king salmon.
On July 24, with an upper in-river projection of more than 25,000 kings, setnetters were allowed additional fishing time and the sport fishery was opened to bait for kings. The sport fishery for kings closes on July 31.
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