By Katie Sechrist and Joe Rutz
The salmon-rich waters of Cook Inlet in Southcentral Alaska have given rise to several unique fisheries over the past century. The Kenai River boasts some of the most active fisheries in the state. Thousands of recreational fishers flock to the crowded banks every year with their rods, reels, and dip nets, ready to take home their limit of salmon. Alaska’s recreational fisheries are a relatively new concept (the majority of the state’s historical fisheries being largely commercial) but have grown to become an integral part of the state’s income and fisheries management.
Many people who depend on salmon as a source of food also participate in the personal use fisheries. Personal use is described in the Alaska Department of Fish & Game’s Laws and Regulations as, “the taking, fishing for, or possession of finfish, shellfish, or other fishery resources, by Alaska residents for personal use and not for sale or barter, with gill or dip net, seine, fish wheel, long line, or other means defined by the Board of Fisheries [16.05.940 (26)].” Subsistence is similar to personal use fishing, but is dedicated to people living in more rural areas of the state who may have few or no other choices other than to subsist on the salmon and other fish they are able to harvest from local streams. Subsistence fishing is described by Fish & Game regulations as “the taking of, fishing for, or possession of fish, shellfish, or other fisheries resources by a resident domiciled in a rural area of the state for subsistence uses with gill net, seine, fish wheel, long line, or other means defined by the Board of Fisheries [Sec. 16.05.940 (31)]”.
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