I sincerely hope Kodiak realizes just how important the Alaska Board of Fish meeting taking place at the Kodiak Convention Center this weekend is to our local economy. Our neighbors to the Southwest and Northeast — Chignik and Cook Inlet — are proposing changes to the commercial salmon fisheries to limit our catches with potentially devastating impact for our fleet and our salmon economy.
Chignik has been having poor catches the last few years and accuses Kodiak of taking their fish at Cape Igvak and preventing their run recovery. But Kodiak doesn’t even get a Cape Igvak opening until 300,000 Chignik reds are counted through the Chignik weir. At every Board of Fish finfish cycle Chignik makes similar proposals. The Cape Igvak openings are important to Kodiak, where our salmon fleet has fished for many years. The institutional memory of the Board of Fish is short, or certainly they would dismiss Chignik’s proposals as repetitive and absurd.
Cook Inlet believes the incidental catches of Cook Inlet bound reds are targeted by Kodiak fishers and are unfair takes of their fish. Cook inlet reds do get caught incidentally as Kodiak fishes its local mixed stocks. This incidental catch is accounted for in the mixed stock salmon fishery plans already in place. If the draconian catch restrictions Cook Inlet is proposing are put into law, Kodiak could not harvest its own local stocks, while at the same time Cook Inlet fishers would gain little.
Both Chignik and Cook Inlet need to “look to their own house” to solve their salmon fishery problems. The Cape Igvak Management Plan and the Mixed Stock Fisheries Policies of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game have been working well for many years and treat all fishers with fairness while protecting our collective fisheries. The Board of Fish meetings are open to the public.