Fish Testimony To Continue in Senate Resources

The Senate Resources Committee will continue to hear testimony today on Upper Cook Inlet salmon.


All week the Committee has been taking testimony, starting with Kenai City Manager Rick Koch…


Koch: “The harvest of Kenai River sockeye salmon during the personal use fishery has grown at an astounding rate. Comparing the average harvest for four years, beginning in 2000, compared with the latest four years, shows that the harvest has increased from 163,159 fish to 491,173, or an increase of over 300 percent in that ten year span.”


Private anglers and commercial fishermen testified…


Dwight Kramer: “Initiate legislation to move toward a professional board of fisheries. We envision this body to be made up of paid positions, selected for their scientific and socioeconomic expertise in the areas of fisheries management and research.”


Megan Smith: “After attending the 2014 Upper Cook Inlet meeting, we were left a lot of questions and a little less faith. Mid-board meeting generated proposals may be generated and voted on with little or no public, scientific or biological input. Unintended and unforeseen consequences result.”


Sportsfishing Association Executive Director Ricky Gease spoke about king salmon…


Gease: “It’s a statewide problem, there’s some sort of ocean productivity, we have booms and busts that happen in these king salmon cycles. 50 years ago, in 1964 when I was actually born, the Kenai River was closed for king salmon fishing. We had a boom in the late 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s, the top 10 records for king salmon on the Kenai were caught during that time frame. During that same time frame, we had all the ESA listings in the pacific northwest, Washington, Oregon, California, and now they’re booming and we’re in a bust cycle.”


And Robert Ruffner with the Kenai Watershed Forum joined them to discuss Kenai River habitat…


Ruffner: “On the Kenai Peninsula, we’ve got these invasive species, that you folks down there, we’ve all heard about them. We talked about that plant that is growing out there in the lake in Nikiski, elodea, and just how expensive all that stuff is to get rid of, once it pops in. So if we can not let those things spread around, that was my key message. Whether it’s pike or elodea or the different types of grasses that can really choke out salmon habitat, we just need to be more responsive and get on the ball and get rid of them sooner rather than later.”


The Committee is meeting again today at 3:30pm, when they’ll hear from the Alaska Department of Fish & Game.

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