The Kenai/Soldotna Fish and Game Advisory Council met Thursday to discuss their position on the final set of proposals to the Board of Fish and Board of Game. This was the fourth consecutive meeting of the council to discuss proposals, a process which began Jan. 9.
Proposals to the boards are considered for each region of Alaska on a three-year cycle. The Southcentral region will have proposals considered this year, then not again until 2026. Advisory committees make their official recommendations known to the board ahead of those sessions.
On Thursday, the council discussed 13 proposals to the Board of Fish and four to the Board of Game.
Proposals officially supported by the council include a simplification of decal requirements for sport fishing guide vessel registration, expansion of the state’s invasive species list and an expansion of opportunity for residents of Port Lions and Ouzinkie to hunt elk.
Proposal 162 to the Board of Fish would allow a Kenai River Special Management Area Department of National Resources decal to serve as proof of Alaska Department of Fish and Game guide vessel registration. The proposal comes from the department. The group supported the proposal because the existing need for two decals is redundant.
Monte Roberts, a member of the advisory council, said a guide can’t get the decal from the Department of National Resources without already having the other from the Department of Fish and Game. The group unanimously supported the proposal.
Proposal 209 was unanimously approved by the local council. It would remove eight elk hunt permits from pool of 170 that are currently randomly drawn by hunters for territories owned by the Ouzinkie Native Corporation and the Afognak Native Corporation. The eight permits would be released in a registration hunt for local residents.
The group decided to support the proposal because the number of permits being removed from circulation was small, and because the land is owned by the Native corporations, who had made an inital proposal to the same effect out of frustration that their members have not drawn permits in the last few years.
Several Board of Fish proposals were opposed by the group that related to the ability for guides to operate in personal use fisheries. Proposals 163 and 164 would either prohibit guides or introduce new reporting and registration requirements, while 165 would prohibit guides in subsistence fisheries.
Personal use fishing is open only to Alaska residents. The group said there wasn’t a reason to prohibit or limit the use of guides to residents who do not have a boat or who shouldn’t be driving one.
“Prohibiting guides takes away their opportunity,” Jerry Strieby said.
The three proposals were opposed either unanimously or with one dissenter. That dissenter was Vice Chair Paul Shadura, who said that the proposal came from the Copper River, where there is an issue of disproportionate harvest between personal use and subsistence fishers. He said that the proposer is trying to deal with an issue in his area, but these proposals were set to affect statewide — his opposing vote was to recognize that need.
Other proposals to the Board of Fish were opposed either unanimously or with up to two dissenters.
The group rejected in-season reporting for fisheries. They were against a closure for commercial fishing anywhere that sport fishing is closed. They decided against supporting a removal of the ban on Seine drums. They rejected an allowance for an angler with multiple permits to fish in more than one area per year. They didn’t recommend the creation of policy related to groundfish fishery resources. Finally, they voted down a requirement for the surrender of proceeds to the state of accidentally harvested wild king salmon by openers harvesting hatchery salmon.
For the Board of Game, a proposal was opposed that would create a special moose hunt for seniors because the group said there isn’t enough opportunity to create hunts for each special interest.
Another proposal was opposed that would close Dall sheep hunting for five years in Unit 19C, which is located near McGrath. The group said there was no identified biological concern, with sheep harvest numbers that far exceed those of a similar hunt on the Kenai Peninsula. They opposed it unanimously, saying that systems are in place to close harvest if necessary.
Official recommendations by advisory councils including the Kenai/Soldotna council will be taken into account when the proposals are officially reviewed by the Board of Fish and the Board of Game.
Proposals discussed by the local council will be discussed at the Board of Fish meeting in Anchorage from March 10 to 14. Board of Game proposals will be discussed at the Southcentral Region meeting of the Board of Game in Soldotna from March 17-22.
For more information about the advisory councils, the Boards of Fish and Game, and full lists of proposals, visit adfg.alaska.gov.
Reach reporter Jake Dye at firstname.lastname@example.org.