Setnetting closes on the Kasilof River on June 25, 2021. (Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion)

Fish and Game issues emergency commercial opening

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game released an emergency order announcement opening commercial-use set and drift gillnet fishing on the Upper Cook Inlet for Wednesday.

According to announcement No. 17 on Tuesday, the order opens set gillnet fishing in the Kasilof section of the upper subdistrict within 600 feet of the mean high tide mark on the Kenai Peninsula shoreline from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Wednesday.

Similarly, on Wednesday between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m. set gillnet fishing will be allowed within 600 feet of the mean high tide mark on the Kenai Peninsula shoreline in the area of the Kenai section north of the latitude of the Blanchard Line and south of the latitude of the marker located south of the Kenai River mouth. This is otherwise known as the North Kalifornsky Beach statistical area.

Tuesday’s announcement also opens drift gillnetting in the expanded Kenai and expanded Kasilof sections of the central district from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Wednesday.

The agency stated that the additional time being allotted to set and drift gillnetters is intended to harvest more sockeye returning to the Kasilof River while also minimizing sockeye and king salmon harvest in the Kenai River.

In accordance to the Kenai River Late-Run King Salmon Management Plan, when the king sport fishery is restricted, so are gear restrictions for all upper subdistrict set gillnet fishermen from the beginning of the season through July 31.

These restrictions include using no more than two set gillnets per permit more than 35 fathoms in length and 29 meshes in depth, or no more than one set gillnet per permit more than 35 fathoms in length and 45 meshes in depth.

Set gillnets not more than 29 meshes in depth as part of this provision must be identified with a blue buoy on the end that is not less than 9.5 inches in diameter. Additionally, set gillnets must be 600 feet apart and 600 feet of the mean high tide mark.

According to the announcement, the Kasilof sockeye salmon run was an estimated 40% complete as of Monday. The minimum biological escapement goal of 140,000 sockeye on the Kasilof has already been achieved.

Reach reporter Camille Botello at camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com.

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