Posted: November 24, 2013 – 10:31am | Updated: November 25, 2013 – 1:08pm
In recent years we have seen a troubling pattern of near record low returns of both early and late run Kenai River chinook salmon. We believe the declines in statewide chinook fisheries are largely due to marine survival issues, however, we also feel that part of our Kenai River decline can be linked to in-river harvest patterns, fishing on middle river mainstem spawning fish throughout July, insufficient spawning area protections, selective harvest of our larger age-class fish, and multiple years of over-harvest of the population due to biased high sonar counts.
History seems pretty clear that factors such as population growth, increased use, commercialization and development make it difficult for us to sustain indigenous wild chinook salmon populations. Unless we alter our behavior we will join the long list of streams dependent on hatchery-produced fish. We will not be able to sustain the high-density fishery that has developed on the Kenai unless we consider a more conservationist approach of protecting production to secure future run strength sustainability.
In order to provide for recovery and certainty in future Kenai River King salmon production, Kenai Area Fisherman’s Coalition, a private angler “Joe Fisherman” group, has forwarded proposal #219 to the Board of Fisheries (BOF) for consideration during their February Upper Cook Inlet (UCI) BOF meeting.
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