The Kodiak community will soon be able to express concern or support about proposed changes to fisheries regulations in the recently released Board of Fish 2019/2020 proposal book.
Each year, the Board of Fish meets to discuss fisheries regulations in a different Alaska region. Regulation changes in each region are considered every three years.
This year, the board will meet to discuss regulations regarding Kodiak, Cook Inlet and statewide king and Tanner crab fisheries.
“This is the only process for changing regulations associated with commercial fishing, sport fishing and subsistence fishing,” said Nathaniel Nichols, a shellfish and groundfish area management biologist at the Department of Fish and Game.
Out of the 284 proposals submitted, 36 are of Kodiak-related fisheries: four for sport fisheries and 32 for commercial salmon, herring and groundfish fisheries.
Anyone can submit a proposal, Nichols said.
"The individuals (who submit proposals) are generally in the industry, but there’s no reason they have to be. If you have strong feelings about Fish and Game regulations, you can submit a proposal,” he said.
For the Kodiak section of the proposal book, 17 members of the public submitted regulation changes as well as a handful of organizations such as the United Cook Inlet Drift Association, Northwest Setnetters Association, Department of Fish and Game, Alaska Jig Association and the Chignik Intertribal Coalition.
Most of the proposals were in regard to salmon fishery regulations.
One issue repeated in several of the proposals concerned Kodiak fishermen intercepting salmon bound for Upper Cook Inlet.
The United Cook Inlet Drift Association submitted two regulation changes regarding this issue.
One of their proposals would restrict salmon bound for Upper Cook Inlet from June 28 through July 25. The other would create a new a new Kodiak Area Management Plan for the seine fishery in regard to fish harvest limits and overall management direction.
Several other proposals submitted by individual members of the public also brought up the issue of salmon harvest interception
One person proposed changing management plans restricting the commercial seine fishery from June 1 to July 2 in certain areas, stating that “current management plans do not give enough protection to non-local Chinook stock.”
In one proposal the United Cook Inlet Drift Association stated the following in regard to Upper Cook Inlet salmon.
“The issue of Kodiak harvesting hundreds of thousands of Cook Inlet and other non-local stocks will continue, all leading to increased conflicts, inappropriate biological assessments (escapement goals), economic stress, perhaps inappropriate management plans and inappropriate use of emergency order authority.”
Salmon bycatch was another issue brought up in the proposals.
One person submitted four regulation changes regarding king salmon bycatch, with sockeye being the principal target on the the Ayakulik river.
One of his solutions would be to restrict commercial salmon fishing in different areas of the Ayakulik River at various times. He wrote that the current management strategy of non-retention is not enough to conserve king salmon populations.
Although salmon fishery regulations are a major amount of the proposals, groundfish and herring proposals were also submitted.
One of the important groundfish fisheries is cod. Four out of the six cod fisheries submissions proposed changes to jig and pot gear allocation:
One proposal would change the Kodiak Area State Waters Pacific guideline harvest levels — the number of fish a permit holder can harvest — to allocate 40% of the harvest to jig gear fleets and 60% of the harvest to pot gear fleets.
Another proposed to add unharvested jig-gear quota to the pot gear’s guideline harvest limits of the following year.
A third proposal suggested opening state-waters for pot gear fleets in May instead of the fall if jig gear fleets have not met their harvest limits.
Each of these proposals stated that the reason for the proposed changes is because jig gear fleets often do not meet their allocated guideline harvest levels.
The Board of Fish will review these proposals at the Kodiak finfish meeting from Jan. 11 to Jan. 14 to decide whether or not to change current regulations.
According to the proposal book, the board relies on written comments and oral testimony from the public.
Written comments can be sent by email, mail, fax or submitted online on the Fish and Game website.