Bob Penney’s Kenai King Conservation Alliance (formed last May) has undergone a name change, just prior to filing an initiative to ban set netting in five areas of Alaska, including the Kenai Peninsula.
The Alaska Fisheries Conservation Alliance sent the paperwork to Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell yesterday, arguing that the ban would not affect 90 percent of the state, and allow the use of set nets for subsistence fishing.
The ban would apply to set net fishermen around Anchorage (including the Kenai Peninsula and Mat-Su), Fairbanks, Juneau, Valdez, and Ketchikan. The popular Kodiak fishery would be allowed to continue.
If the paperwork is approved, the AFCA will have 60 days to gather 30,000 signatures to get the issue before statewide voters on the August 2016 ballot.
Kenai City Manager Rick Koch presented Council Members with a copy of the AFCA’s goals last night, where Council Members expressed concern. Cm. Brian Gabriel said he felt the petition is short-sighted, given the 130 year local tradition of the industry…
Cm. Gabriel: “There’s a long, rich history and tradition here of set netting and Kenai was a fishing village, that’s where we started before oil.”
We asked Cm. Gabriel what impact the petition could have on the local area…
Cm. Gabriel: “Well, first thing I see is a bunch of displaced people, because you’ve got 400-some East Side Set Netters, and it’s 85 percent Alaska-resident held permits. In addition to that, you have a lot of crew members that are young kids in the community, that rely on those summer jobs and then the downstream part of it is you’ve got the processors that hire a lot of young people in the community to process the fish, so there’s a ton of job opportunities for anybody that wants to go to work.”