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BREAKING Board of Fish votes to limit Kodiak salmon fishermen in two areas

Photo: ADFG.
Photo: ADFG.


This is a breaking story. KMXT will update with more information in future news stories.

KMXT’s Maggie Wall spoke with the chair of the Kodiak Salmon Workgroup, Duncan Fields, shortly after the Alaska Board of Fisheries voted to limit access to two traditional fisheries.

Kodiak salmon fishermen were dealt a major blow yesterday when the Alaska Board of Fisheries voted to limit fishing in areas that have been traditional fishing spots for commercial fishermen.

KMXT’s Maggie Wall has more.

Click arrow to listen to report, or continue below to read it.

Kodiak salmon fishermen were stunned at the decision by the Alaska Board of Fisheries yesterday to put new limits on fishermen in the Cape Igvak fishery as well as the Katmai Alinchak Section on the mainland, according to the head of a local salmon group.

Both measures are intended to allow more fish to pass in order to increase the harvests in other areas.

The Cape Igvak fishery catches fish bound for Chignik, which has been devastated in recent years. And the closure in the Katmai Alinchak Section is designed to allow Cook Inlet salmon to pass with the hopes that they will make it to the Susitna River drainage.

Kodiak Salmon Workgroup’s Chairman Duncan Fields did not mince words when speaking about the board’s decisions.

“We’re just stunned. I don’t know if we can really assess all the implications of what took place here today. What the board determined today was beyond the scope of even worst case scenario.


“So in essence, we believe that we’ve lost our Cape Igvak fishery for all intents and purposes. There is a possibility in some very unusual, high years in Chignik, there may be some fishing there, but that seems improbable at this point.


            As many as 150 Kodiak fishermen and others supporting local fishermen, testified during the public hearing. Many pointed out that the current Cape Igvak fishing plan does not allow Kodiak to fish until Chignik has reached a certain number of fish. And, that since fishing was so bad the past few years, Kodiak didn’t fish Cape Igvak at all during the most disastrous Chignik years.

“In addition to that, because of the way they’ve reconfigured the Cape Igvak Management Area, even if we’re a when we’re able to fish in Cape Igvak, because of the trigger caps on the sockeye, many of the traditional hook haul spots are eliminated through first of August in the Cape Igvak Management Area.

But the Cape Igvak fishery was not the only disappointment handed out by the Board of Fish.


“But in addition to that, they extended a management plan for over 40 miles on the Alaska Peninsula. Primarily with some misplaced idea that they’re going to save some Susitna sockeye.


“And it’s absurd to place the burden three or 400 miles away from the Susitna River on Kodiak fishermen by closing the Mainland Area. It’s likely that because their inability or their unwillingness to accommodate the geography and the Katmai Alinchak Section that most of those chums and pinks will not go harvest it. So it’s a waste of public resource because of their failure to understand or appreciate the geography and their unwillingness to take that into account for these management places.


“So, in summary, Kodiak is stunned. We’re deeply, deeply disappointed in the board and the board process.”

In terms of dollar value, Fields says with the combined cuts to the two fishing areas, Kodiak is looking at a loss of $2-3 million per year.

“In addition to what we’ve lost in Cape Igvak, now we have this huge loss in the middle Mainland Section. In the Katmai and Alinchak Section, and so the cumulative value of that loss which is primarily pinks and chums, as well as what they’ve lost at Cape Igvak, I think is still within that 2.5 to $3 million range. And that’s every year. That’s like a cash register 3 million loss, 3 million loss in perpetuity.


Several Fisheries Board members, and people in town to testify on behalf of Cook Inlet fishermen, cited a DNA study that said Kodiak fishermen caught Inlet bound salmon.

Fields disputes the findings and adds that the DNA tests don’t even apply to the areas that were closed.

“In addition to that, we have hundreds of pages of documentation relative to the genetic study, to say that you really can’t determine whether or not those fish over there are Susitna bound fish or not. It’s a very low percentage at best in the area they closed at the Katmai Alinchak Section had no genetic assessment in that area at all.


“And yet they closed that based on this assumption that the fish that are caught there are bound for Cook Inlet. And then the second assumption, that some percentage of those that are bound for Cook Inlet are going to go to Susitna draining, and that that percentage is significant enough to regulate a fishery three or 400 miles away.”


Fields also expressed concern that the Board of Fish didn’t seem swayed by the number of Kodiak fishermen who testified to how much closures would hurt the fishermen and the local economy.

“And so as a Kodiak fishing community that over 150 people testify for the Board of Fish and tell them, tell the board, what it would do to this community, yet they seem to turn a deaf ear to the community’s concerns.”


Fields said the changes to regulations will take affect with this summer’s salmon season.