Finfish issues on tap at Valdez Dec. 1-5

CDFU proposals urges repeal of mandatory inside waters commercial salmon fishery closures

Port of Cordova, Alaska by Cinthia Gibbens-Stimson/The Cordova Times

Over 50 proposals regarding Prince William Sound and Upper Copper and Susitna river finfish issues will be under consideration at the Alaska Board of Fisheries meeting in Valdez Dec. 1-5, including 10 specifically related to the Copper River commercial salmon fishery.

Proposal 28, from the gillnet division of Cordova District Fishermen United proposes the repeal of mandatory inside waters commercial salmon fishery closures under the Copper River King Salmon Management Plan.

CDFU contends that the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has demonstrated its ability to manage fisheries effectively and that therefore mandatory closures are unnecessary.

“ADF&G has opposed mandatory closures on sport fisheries as these closures are mandated even when the circumstances of a current year’s run strength and timing do not require them,” CDFU said. “This proposal does not suggest eliminating the inside closure tool as it is warranted, but rather suggests the elimination of this mandatory language.”

Proposals from the Fairbanks Fish and Game Advisory Committee include one to reduce the maximum depth of drift gill nets in the Copper River District commercial drift gillnet to 29 meshes through the end of May. The advisory committee contends that deep nets are harvesting too many king salmon in the May gillnet fishery, at the expense of dipnetters and sport anglers, and that escapement goals for the kings were not met in 2014, 2016 and 2017.

The Fairbanks advisory committee also submitted Proposal 32, to prohibit commercial salmon fishing in the Copper River District during May if the preseason forecast for Copper River kings is below the 20-year average, or 35,000 Chinooks. According to that proposal there is no biological justification for the “inevitable incidental harvest of thousands of kings in May” if the preseason forecast is below the 20-year average.

The Fairbanks advisory committee also added Proposal 33 to prohibit the sale of commercially caught kings if any restrictions on Copper River drainage subsistence fisheries are implemented.

The Alaska Board of Fisheries is encouraging the public to submit written comments on these and all other proposals through Nov. 17 in order for them to be included in the board’s workbook before the meeting. Details are at http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=process.comments

Comments submitted after Nov. 17 are limited to 10 single-sided or five double-sided pages in length from any individual or group, and will be inserted in board member workbooks at the start of the meeting and accepted throughout the meeting.

Written public comments may be submitted by hand delivery at any time during the meeting if 21 copies are provided. Individuals not in attendance can submit written comments by fax at 1-907-465-6094.

All portions of the meeting are open to the public and a live audio stream is intended to be available on the Board of Fisheries website at www.boardoffisheries.adfg.alaska.gov

Copies of advanced meeting materials, including the agenda and roadmap, are available from Boards Support Section, 1-907-465-4110, or online at http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=fisheriesboard.meetinginfo.