Not all fisheries get spotlight

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has released its annual management report looking at all fisheries in Upper Cook Inlet.

While nearly everyone knows about the dismal salmon fishery, there are many fisheries happening in UCI that get much less attention.

Upper Cook Inlet consists of waters north of the latitude of Anchor Point, and is divided into Central and Northern districts with several sub-districts, and is managed by the Soldotna office of ADFG.

The combined districts cover considerable waters: the Central district is around 75 miles long and an average of 32 miles wide, and the Northern district is around 50 miles long and averages 20 miles wide, covering an area around 6,500 square miles.

The herring fishery in UCI is a tricky one to manage, because the glacial waters make aerial surveys unworkable for biomass estimates.

As a result, the Alaska Board of Fisheries has limited the gear type to set gillnets, the least efficient means of harvest.

Along with conservative guideline harvest levels, this has allowed for a low-level commercial harvest, generally in the Clam Gulch area.

Smelt, also known as eulachon or hooligan, is another little-known commercial fishery in UCI.

Caught only with dipnets in the area between the Chuitna and Little Susitna Rivers, and only in salt water, the fishery is limited to 100 tons and takes place between May 1 and June 30.

The fish are generally used as bait or marine mammal food.

Razor clams are another species subject to commercial harvest in UCI.

Dating back nearly 100 years, from 1919, the commercial harvest has fluctuated from no fishery to in excess of 500,000 pounds.

“The sporadic nature of the fishery was more a function of limited market opportunities than limited availability of resource,” the report states.

The eastern side of the Inlet, around Ninilchik to Clam Gulch, has been set aside solely for recreational clam harvest since 1959, although it has been closed in recent years due to a mass die-off.

The western side, concentrated around Polly Creek, is approved for human consumption by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, meaning the clams are tested for paralytic shellfish poisoning.

While there is no harvest limit on the west side, ADFG manages for a harvest of no more than 350,000 to 400,000 pounds.

While the current harvest is from hand digging, prior to 1990 dredges were allowed, although technology never produced a satisfactory machine.

Cristy Fry can be reached at realist468@gmail.com.

More in Opinion

Letters to the Editor

Honor lost Civil Rights leaders This week, the world lost two incredible… Continue reading

Candidate Point of View: Gary Stevens

It has been my pleasure to represent this district in the Alaska… Continue reading

John Cox. (Photo courtesy John Cox)
Candidate Point of View: John Cox

When you step into that voting booth on Aug. 18. and Nov.… Continue reading

Candidate Point of View: Greg Madden

Whether it’s Democrats or Republicans in control, we get more spending and… Continue reading

Point of View: Are We Okay? A Message from Alaska’s Hospitals and Nursing Homes on COVID-19

Over the past month, decision makers, stakeholders, and media have routinely inquired… Continue reading

Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor, Well it has been 9 months since my daughter Anesha… Continue reading

This undated file photo shows John Hancock’s signature on the Declaration of Independence, which was formally signed by 56 members of Congress beginning Aug. 2, 1776. (AP Photo, File)
                                FILE - This undated file photo shows John Hancock’s signature on the Declaration of Independence, which was formally signed by 56 members of Congress beginning Aug. 2, 1776. National Public Radio marked Independence Day on July 4th, 2017, by tweeting the entire declaration, but it seems some Twitter users didn’t recognize what they were reading. Some of the founders’ criticisms of King George III were met with angry responses from supporters of President Donald Trump, who seemed to believe the tweets were a reference to the current president. Others were under the impression NPR was trying to provoke Trump with the tweets. (AP Photo, File)
Point of View: Our republic

We recently celebrated the birthday of our nation, July 4, 1776, the… Continue reading

Homer Foundation logo.
Point of View: Pay it Forward — Communities take care of each other

As your community hospital, South Peninsula Hospital has been taking extreme measures… Continue reading

Letters to the Editor

Seeing is believing Dear Editor, Listening is not always hearing, but seeing… Continue reading

Most Read