The Alaska Board Of Fisheries declined an Agenda Change Request to take up the Kodiak salmon management plan out of cycle, submitted by United Cook Inlet Drift Association at a work session last week.
At issue is a pair of studies by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game that looked at how many fish from other districts are being harvested by the Kodiak fleet, which were released in December of 2016, when the meetings for the Kodiak Management Area were already underway.
The criteria for submitting an ACR is if substantial new information becomes available after the call for proposal period has closed.
The three-year studies found that some areas open to Kodiak seiners have more Cook Inlet sockeyes than those bound for local streams during certain times of year. During the three years of the studies, well over 1 million Cook Inlet sockeye were harvested in Kodiak.
ADF&G originally commissioned the studies at the request of the Olga Bay setnetters on the southwest end of Kodiak Island, according to UCIDA president David Martin.
“They thought it would prove that (the seiners) were catching a bunch of their fish, which it showed they did, but it showed they caught a bunch of Cook Inlet and Chignik fish, more than what they expected,” he said.
The studies did not look at all of the KMA, mainly at the cape outside Olga Bay and Cape Igvak on the mainland side of Shelikof Strait.
At Cape Igvak, after June 20, the studies showed seiners were predominately catching Cook Inlet fish, as much as 90 to 95 percent.
“They caught about a quarter million Cook Inlet sockeye last year at Igvak,” Martin said.
The fix is not likely to be easy or popular in Kodiak.
Martin said that there is a clear time frame, from about June 20 to July 25, after their early sockeye run and before the fall pink, chum and coho runs, when seiners should be restricted to the bays.
“They don’t need to be out on the capes to harvest their own local stocks. (Some of) these bays are bigger than Kachemak Bay,” Martin said.
“One thing we want to make clear is we want Kodiak to catch all their own local stocks; we just don’t want them to catch ours.”
Having the ACR denied was especially frustrating because the BOF accepted an ACR dealing with Aleutian crab with the same justification, Martin said.
Cristy Fry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.