***There is an important update to this story at: King Goal Reversed 5-2***
The late run Kenai King goal has been raised, after a tumultuous few years of debate.
Kenai River Sportsfishing Association authored proposal 209, which outlined an increase from the current goal of 15,000 – 30,000 to 20,000 – 40,000. The Board found a compromise and passed a new goal of 16,600 – 30,000.
Ricky Gease, Executive Director of KRSA, explained that returns less than 20,000 would be relative to the “lowest historical escapements where returns have been estimated.”
Gease: “There is something fundamentally different in the returns that we’re having now. And I think one of the things that we need is just to be clear on what we’re actually observing. There is a problem with king salmon; we need to figure out how to deal with it. And that’s hopefully what will happen out of the upcoming Board of Fisheries meeting is we’ll put a management plan in that is clear, is prescriptive, is paired, everybody takes part in the conservation measures that need to be taken.”
The goal was lowered last year based on a Department of Fish & Game recommendation, due to a new type of counting technology being used. KRSA said that recommendation “was based on subjective interpretations of the available data and inconsistent with similar interpretations in other areas of the state.”
Rob Williams, President of the Kenai Peninsula Fishermen’s Association, represents commercial fishermen. He said he’s more concerned about early run kings, which don’t face any commercial fishing pressure…
Williams: “You know, it’s one thing barely making the goal. It’s another thing when you’re not making the goal. I’m not going to beat up the in-river group. I think they’re going to try to figure something out. Maybe a little more protection.”
The Board starts their meetings at 8am today with early run king proposals.