Emotions ran high Wednesday as the Alaska Board of Fisheries deliberated a board-member generated proposal that outlined a new plan to pair restrictions between commercial setnet fishermen and in-river fishers who harvest the struggling Kenai River king salmon stock. As it became clear during deliberations that the board would be making substantive changes to the way the commercial setnet fisheries occur in July and August, more members of the group stood and moved away from the board to the back of the hall leaving the vast majority of the audience seats empty.
Those looking for a reason to celebrate the Kenai River as the rising sun illuminated its turquoise waters Friday morning did not need to look far. Scores of pink and silver salmon swam in the lower river, rainbow trout navigated the middle, and spawning sockeye and king salmon rolled in its upper sections. Fishermen and recreational users enjoyed its bounty along its banks and in its flowing waters.
Marine research presented during the Tuesday morning session lacked consistent data on Cook Inlet chinook.
Editor's note: This story is part of the Clarion's continuing look at issues affecting Cook Inlet salmon fisheries.
Gov. Sean Parnell said his fiscal year 2014 budget would include $10 million as a "down payment" on a $30 million, five-year comprehensive Chinook Salmon Research Initiative during a Tuesday community meet and greet in Kenai.
The U.S. Small Business Administration announced the availability of long term, low interest loans for people affected by chinook salmon fishery disaster declaration. However, some local fishermen say they are uninterested in taking out loans to recover from last season. Businesses in affected areas in the Kenai Peninsula Borough, Lower Kuskokwim and Lower Yukon Rural Education Attendance Areas, the Matanuska Susitna Borough, and some neighboring areas, can apply for the loans until Aug. 21, 2013.
While scientists, managers and stakeholders gathered in Anchorage to identify gaps in the state's king salmon data at a symposium, the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly mulled their own perceived lack of data.
Upper Cook Inlet salmon are, from a user-group allocation perspective, the most hotly contested salmon in the state. Commercial fishermen, personal-use fishermen, sport fishermen, subsistence fishermen -- all have legitimate claims to the resource.
As hundreds of people were watching the start of the Iditarod in downtown Anchorage Saturday, a few blocks away the Alaska Board of Fisheries finished up its decision-making on fish policy that affects thousands.
Fish have been the lifeblood of the Kenai Peninsula since people first began arriving here.
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