Working for Alaska's Salmon Future Today

Response to Craig Medred, Set net bycatch article

November 26th, 2013 | Posted by Alaska Salmon Alliance in Articles | Opinion

This letter was provided to the Alaska Salmon Alliance by its author prior to being printed in the Alaska Dispatch (to which it is addressed) or any other entity.  Thus, it has been reproduced in full here.

Dear Dispatch,

I am supremely disappointed in the article you ran on November 20th by Craig Medred.  It is riddled with misinformation and is very unprofessional.  I would hope a fisheries article would warrant a call to 1 or 2 fisheries biologists or at least a trip to the ADF&G web page (as much of this information is covered there).  Even the title ‘What exactly is the impact of setnet bycatch on Alaska’s Kenai River King salmon fishery?’  is inaccurate.  Legal historic harvest is NOT bycatch.  The Alaska Journal of Commerce covers this pretty well.

Furthermore, ADF&G came up with the exploitation rate of 13% it is not a ‘claim’ of the Kenai Peninsula Fishermen’s Association.  Here’s a link Then there is the eluded dishonesty of setnetters.  Any commercial catch that I keep for personal use or sell for cash IS reflected on my commercial fish ticket.  There is a spot on the bottom that I am legally and morally required to fill out.  My family and I do harvest a few fish that we process and eat over the winter.   ALL the fish I take (Reds, Kings or otherwise) are marked on my commercial ticket.

Not only is the word ‘bycatch’ repeatedly misused throughout the article, the statement ‘The incentive for setnetters to make bycatch disappear in this way is huge’ is insulting and false.  Setnetting is one of the most historically accurate inseason indicators for Kenai king salmon run strength.  Why would we want a lesser run to look weak?  Again no fact, simply slander.

The article then mentions saltwater rearing as a culprit for low returns, but fails to credit density dependent factors as mentioned in the Kenai Chinook Salmon Escapement goal report (Page 14).  Currently, there are no smolt studies on the Kenai River.  How can one claim ‘rivers appear to be producing adequate numbers of small salmon?’  No one is checking!

To my knowledge, the final king escapement numbers are not out.  However, in 2010 the Kenai King escapement was around 16,000.  The claim that 2013 was the first time the number of spawners has dropped below 20,000 is wrong.

Please look at a the Kenai King MSY chart.  We know from ADF&G data that 13,000-28,000 spawners is 90% of MSY.  It brings back highest future returns.  More kings, everyone is happy!! Hooray!

Finally, the Kenai king goal was not lowered.  It was converted to new units of measure.  It is like comparing apples to oranges.  ADF&G explain it to me as switching from MPH to KPH.  The units are different, but the speed (and the number of fish) is the same.

Many of these fish facts are covered on the ADF&G UCI Task Force page.  I have included it above.

I have yet to hear of the 42% mortality rate claimed in this article, and I have been paying attention.  Undoubtedly, this too is false.  All credibility has been lost.

I don’t know who I am more disappointed in, Mr. Medred for writing this and calling it an article or The Dispatch for printing it.

If you would like to study true biological research of kings in Alaska, there is a new study published on the kings of the Yukon/Kuskokwim, you should check it out.  At the very least read the Kenai Chinook Interim Escapement Goal Report.

These ARE tough times for the Alaskan families that live and love to work the beaches of Cook Inlet.  We have to fight misinformation spewing from special interests, lobbying groups and now ‘credible’ news sources.  This article represents neither the news nor the voices of the last frontier.

I am a wife, mother and fisherman living on the Kenai Peninsula.  As an Alaskan resident, I deserve better than this.

Thank you,

Megan Smith

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