Local meetings this week to familiarize fishers with new Cook Inlet EEZ regs

Federal management of the Cook Inlet EEZ is set to begin on May 30

Upper Cook Inlet Exclusive Economic Zone can be seen on this map provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (Image via fisheries.noaa.gov)

Upper Cook Inlet Exclusive Economic Zone can be seen on this map provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (Image via fisheries.noaa.gov)

A series of meetings hosted by the National Marine Fisheries Service intended to familiarize fishers with new commercial fishing regulations in the Cook Inlet Exclusive Economic Zone will be held in Kenai and Homer this week.

In Kenai, the informational meeting will be held on Wednesday, May 15, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Quality Inn.

In Homer, the informational meeting will be held Thursday, May 16, also from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., at Best Western Bidarka Inn.

Federal management of the Cook Inlet EEZ is set to begin on May 30, for a commercial fishing season scheduled to run June 20 to Aug. 15, after the service published their new rule in late-April. Under the new regulations, commercial drift gillnet fishers in the zone are subject to new requirements like obtaining a new federal permit, installing a vessel monitoring system, and others.

The rule also manages fisheries in the area for “total allowable catch,” rather than in pursuit of escapement goals like in state fisheries. If the total allowable catch limit is hit for any species of salmon, the fishery will automatically be closed.

Sport fishing will be allowed in the zone, with no federal permits, but fishers will need to comply with federal regulations and state regulations — including bag limits.

The meetings are intended to “assist stakeholders in complying with these new regulations,” the service wrote. An online webinar will also be held on Wednesday, May 22 via Google Meet.

For more information, including to view the whole text of the rule or join the webinar, visit fisheries.noaa.gov.

Reach reporter Jake Dye at jacob.dye@peninsulaclarion.com.

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