Cook Inlet razor clams are among the items on the Board of Fisheries menu this year.
Fishermen and other stakeholders are asking the board to consider 162 proposals to change subsistence, commercial, personal-use and sport regulations in fisheries throughout the state during the 2014-2015 meeting cycle. The majority of the proposals this year will address Southeast Alaska fisheries, including both finfish and shellfish there, but a handful address Cook Inlet issues.
Cook Inlet razor clams will be up for discussion at the statewide Dungeness crab, shrimp and miscellaneous shellfish and supplemental issues meeting. So far, there are 34 proposals for discussion at that meeting, which will be held in Anchorage March 17-20, 2015. Southeast Alaska crab, shrimp and miscellaneous shellfish will be discussed in a separate meeting, Jan. 21-27, 2015, in Wrangell.
Of the five Cook Inlet razor clam proposals to be discussed at the meeting, four would limit or close the eastern Cook Inlet razor clam fishery. The fifth proposal would establish bag and possession limits for razor clams in West Cook Inlet.
Those were submitted by individuals or the Homer Advisory Committee, and each proposal cites concerns with abundance and emergency orders limiting the harvest in recent years as justification for reducing the take.
Other items on the statewide agenda at the meeting include changes to Prince William Sound’s shrimp fisheries and a repeal of the prohibition on felted soles while sport fishing in fresh water.
At that meeting, the board also will consider a proposal to reduce the length of drift nets, limit the number of nets fished per setnet permit, reduce the days available to dipnetters and prohibit motors on the Kenai. That was submitted by an individual, Pavel R. Vitek, who wrote that it could help ensure more salmon escape to the rivers. Vitek also submitted a proposal to modify the length of set and drift gillnets based on preseason sockeye forecasts.
The Seward Charterboat Association has submitted proposals for Prince William Sound asking the board to require sport fishermen to keep the first two king salmon they catch in saltwater, rather than practice catch and release but later keep one, and to reduce lingcod catches both by commercial and sport fishermen. Those are up for discussion at the Prince William Sound and Upper Copper/Upper Susitna finfish meeting in Cordova, Dec. 3-8.
Some proposals that were implemented in Cook Inlet during the Lower and Upper Cook Inlet board meetings in 2013 and 2014 will now be discussed for other regions — such as enabling ADFG managers to prohibit barbless hooks for king fishing in the Upper Copper/Upper Susitna area.
Additional Cook Inlet proposals
could be added in October
The board also will meet in Juneau Oct. 15-16 to discuss agenda change requests, or ACRs.
Those were due Aug. 18, and BOF Executive Director Glenn Haight wrote in an Aug. 19 email that about 28 were submitted. A breakdown by region or subject was not available as of that day, but Haight said they would likely be out in the near future.
An ACR typically asks the board to consider an issue out of cycle. In October, the board will decide whether or not to take up each request, and then add it to one of the regularly scheduled meetings — usually the supplemental issues meeting in March.
ADFG Biologist Pat Shields said the department had not submitted any agenda change requests for Cook Inlet fisheries, but that he thought stakeholders had submitted some, given that the 2014 fishery was the first year after a board meeting with a lot of changes to area salmon management plans.
Cook Inlet ACRs would likely wind up on the board’s agenda for the Anchorage meeting in March, although the board will decide whether to hear each item — and when to hear it — at the October meeting.
Typically, the board also discusses other items at its October meeting, including setting the location of future meetings and hearing escapement goal reports for the fisheries being discussed in the coming year.
The board’s schedule for the coming year is as follows:
• Work Session, Oct. 15-16, Juneau;
• Prince William Sound and Upper Copper/Upper Susitna Finfish, Dec. 3-8, Cordova;
• Southeast and Yakutat Crab, Shrimp and Miscellaneous Shellfish, Jan. 21-27, 2015, Wrangell;
• Southeast and Yakutat Finfish, Feb. 23-March 3, 2015, Sitka; and
• Statewide Dungeness Crab, Shrimp, Miscellaneous Shellfish and Supplemental Issues, March 17-20, 2015, Anchorage.
Molly Dischner is a reporter for the Alaska Journal of Commerce. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.