BOF approves NVE subsistence salmon proposals

A jar of fresh smoked sockeye bellies glistens in the summer sun before heading to the pressure cooker. Hidden under the layers of salmon are thin slices of serrano peppers for a little added bite. Salmon bellies are high in fat and oils, making this jar extra rich and considered by the makers as the coveted “Jar of Jars” for this season’s batch. Photo by Vivian Kennedy/The Cordova Times

Two subsistence salmon proposals from the Native Village of Eyak were approved with requested modifications during the recent meeting of the Alaska Board of Fisheries in Cordova, resulting in improved opportunities for a greater subsistence catch.

“The result of Proposal 28, which initially would have increased Prince William Sound subsistence limits, ended up providing a supplemental limit of pinks and chums equal to the household limit for salmon,” said John Whissel, director of NVE’s department of the environment and natural resources.

“So, a family of five who can now harvest 60 salmon (five of which may be kings) may also harvest 60 pinks or chums. This provides an opportunity for individuals who encounter pinks and chums while fishing for kings, reds or coho to retain them as required without losing opportunity on the target species. Further, it provides an opportunity to harvest these higher-volume, lower-value fish if they wish to do so without foregoing opportunity of higher value salmon.”

Proposal 29 would have allowed drift gillnet gear to be used in any commercial fishing opener. After discussion that proposal was modified to provide a subsistence area in the portion of Orca Inlet, which is now closed to commercial fishing during July, thus avoiding the hatchery kings at Fleming Spit and hatchery and wild coho in the same area.

“We proposed that the board open Orca Inlet right in town for subsistence fishing,” Whissel said. “It opened the non-commercial fishing area to subsistence fishing in July using gillnets for pinks and chums.”

NVE’s Proposal 28 noted that subsistence salmon harvest limits in the Copper River District subsistence fishery are half that of what is allowed for harvesting the same salmon stocks in the Glennallen subdistrict subsistence fishery. Further disparity exists in the ability of Glennallen subdistrict subsistence users to request a harvest limit increase of up to 500 salmon per household, the NVE proposal said. The goal was parity between the limits in these two fisheries, without reducing any harvest limits upriver.

Proposal 29 sought subsistence salmon fishing with drift gillnet gear concurrent with commercial fishing openers — and 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturdays — throughout Prince William Sound, an area where a harvestable surplus is available and underutilized by subsistence users.